New study shows location leaves Eyre Peninsula students at disadvantage

Lower Eyre Peninsula students are at a disadvantage according to research that suggests a school’s location is a key predictor of NAPLAN results.

The Macquarie University study used mapping software to analyse every school’s year five NAPLAN results from 2008 to 2016 and found outcomes aligned to the socioeconomic advantage of a suburb.

The study's lead author Crichton Smith described the results as “confronting” and said the location-based divide had increased since NAPLAN began.

“It doesn’t matter who owns the school, it’s where the school is located that matters,” he said.

“Port Lincoln is a town of 10,000-20,000 people, and as you can see, the NAPLAN results for schools has not been improving.

“This hopefully places Port Lincoln schools' results in a broader context, and highlights some of the educational difficulties being faced by these towns.”

Only one school on the lower Eyre Peninsula scored above the national average in 2016.

Port Lincoln acting education director Chris Roberts said schools were working hard to maximise learning by implementing plans to lift performances in literacy and numeracy.

Study co-author professor Nick Parr said significant differences were found between towns of different sizes, with below average results increasing as schools became more remote.

“The results reflect a widening spatial divide within Australia’s cities in terms of socioeconomic characteristics, such as parents’ education levels, incomes, and occupations,” he said.

Australian towns with populations between 10,000 and 19,000 saw a decrease from 24 per cent in 2008 scoring above the national average to only 9 per cent in 2016.

Schools scoring below the national average have increased from 40 per cent in 2008 to 54 per cent in 2016.

Mr Smith said those living outside of cities or in disadvantaged areas were “increasingly missing out”.

“Education quality should not be limited by a school’s location,” he said.

“With 10 years of NAPLAN results now available, it is difficult to see a policy solution to bridge a gap that is so wide, and growing.”