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Public schools learn lesson about values education

Promoting values-based education is winning back disillusioned parents and students from independent and Catholic schools to the public education system, according to a new report.

The Values Education Study, which presents the findings of 12 case studies in Australian schools, found literacy and retention rates have improved after the introduction of values-based classes and programs.

The study was commissioned by federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson following unanimous support from state and territory education ministers at a meeting of the Ministerial Council on Education, Science and Training in July, 2002.

Presenting the findings at the first ever National Values in Education Forum in Melbourne last week, Dr Nelson acknowledged that more than 70% of schools at the conference were public schools.

"Kids being able to read, write, count and communicate when they leave school have always been priorities," he said.

"But increasingly, as parents we are concerned to know education is being delivered within a values-based framework."

The case studies included Cabramatta High, in Sydney's west, where values-based classes delivered a "significant increase" in students participating in extra-curricular activities, including a 300% jump in auditions for the school choir and a 90% attendance rate for parents and students at a Beyond Year 10 information evening, compared with just 10% the previous year.

The study said positive outcomes also extend to a development that bucked national trends -- students leaving private schools to return to the public sector.

Values lure students back to public system (The Australian 3/5/04)

Values Education Study - Final Report (PDF) | Executive Summary
Values Education Website
Values Education - Making a difference in our schools and society (Dr Brendan Nelson Media Release 29/4/04)

3 May 2004