Punching Above Their Weight: Sydney’s Struggle Street Schools That Perform Really Well

The federal government’s MySchool website is a treasure trove of data about schools and how they perform. Like it or not, it’s a statistical fact that rich suburbs’ schools perform better and that educated parents have kids who, in turn, do well at school. You can see a pretty strong correlation here with Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) and mean NAPLAN score:

Socio-economic advantage is not the end of the story though. There’s still plenty of variation. Some schools perform way better with the children they’re given than others. This article seeks to recognise the fantastic work of those educators and institutions.

But before we get too excited, remember that NAPLAN is just about maths and literacy. It doesn’t tell you which students are going to build the next global restaurant chain or write the next Hollywood blockbuster.  There is much more to a child’s development, and some schools have educational philosophies that aren’t conducive to strong NAPLAN results. It’s possible that some of these schools are just “teach the test” hothouses.

Regardless, maths and literacy are the foundations upon which many other skills can be learnt. We may celebrate the tech founder who drops out of university to create a billion dollar business, but you can be pretty sure that person didn’t drop out because they couldn’t read or write.

 1. Canley Vale High School

What makes Canley Vale really a standout is that on our ranking it actually beat out all the other selective schools too. That means that they did more with the local children than selective schools can do with a hand-picked intake. Something is definitely going right in this very poor south western Sydney suburb. The average income per week is just $495, yet this school ranks in the top 25% for NAPLAN across the country.

 2. Cabramatta High School

Nearby to Canley Vale is Cabramatta High School, our second top performer. The majority of the students are from a Vietnamese or Chinese background. 68% of students from here come from economic backgrounds in the bottom quarter of the state, yet the school still produce results around the state average.

3. Fairvale High School

Our next best performer is also from Sydney’s South West. If you look carefully at the faces, you may see a familiar pattern:

The high cultural priority that Asian families place on education may be showing up here. This may be why high schools in immigrant areas beat primary schools. It’s a tough call for immigrant primary school children to outperform their peers while also learning a new language.

4. Chifley College Shalvey Campus

Despite 26% being from an indigenous background, 25% being from a non-English speaking background and 83% of their students in the bottom quarter of the state socio-educationally, this public high school manages to achieve NAPLAN results in line with national averages.

5. Sydney Distance Education High School

We tried to make this article about what schools that outperform, though it seems having Asian kids extends the pressure to perform into the home. Also Asian parents may be particularly keen on conventional measures of academic achievement over most extra-curricular pursuits that we don’t cover here.

So we also looked for the school that performs the best with an English speaking population and this one came top. Although the name sounds like it might be for isolated, remote families, it actually supports on children with special needs, like the pregnant or disabled. Their NAPLAN scores show that they are certainly coming through for their students.

Microburbs Report – Family Score

The Family Score panel of each microburbs report includes the performance of all classes of local schools, along with catchment boundaries and travel times. We also have available a full report for Australian suburbs, which we can send you instantly:

 
For press enquiries about this article, please call Microburbs Founder Luke Metcalfe on 0414 183 210.

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Luke Metcalfe
Founder and CEO at Microburbs. Data geek and tech entrepreneur of 15 years. Passionate about driving efficiency in the real estate market by informing buyers with the objective information they need. Best known for NationMaster, an international statistics site, and NetComber, a domain name forensics tool he sold in 2014.

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