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Are Australian schools becoming more polarised? A local case study

Project Member(s): Ho, C.

Start year: 2014

Summary: This research project examines how inequalities are deepening between Australian public schools, and the consequences this has for school communities. As debates on the Gonski reforms have highlighted, education inequality is worsening, as government policies have created a `market¿ in schools. Schools are increasingly divided along lines of wealth and ethnicity, with talk of `white flight¿ and `ghetto schools¿. My project aims to determine the processes driving this polarisation, with particular attention on how parents may use `school choice¿ to self-segregate. The project provides a case study of a suburb in Sydney¿s inner-west, focusing on two public schools which, although geographically close, have become dramatically polarised over the last decade. MySchool website data show that one school¿s families have become wealthier, while the other¿s have become poorer. While one has become much more `white¿, the other has become predominantly `ethnic¿. How have these inequalities become so stark and what impacts are felt by school communities? A close local study enables attention to details of the processes of polarisation.


Ho, C & butler, R 2016, 'Why do parents take such different approaches to their kids’ education?', The Conversation.

Ho, C & Vincent, E 2016, 'Gentrification is dividing Australian schools', The Conversation.

Ho, C, Vincent, E & Butler, R 2015, 'Everyday and cosmo-multiculturalisms: doing diversity in gentrifying school communities', Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 658-675.
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Keywords: education, inequality, ethnicity, schools

FOR Codes: School/Institution Community and Environment, Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified, Sociology of Education, Education and Training Systems Policies and Development, Race and Ethnic Relations