Student teacher ratios don’t dictate quality

By Dr Lee-Anne Perry AM, Executive Director, Queensland Catholic Education Commission

Readers of many Queensland newspapers might be somewhat surprised this week, and rightly so, by claims that the state’s ‘best resourced’ schools are in places including Alpha, Babinda, Quilpie and Normanton.

Calculating the basic ratio of full-time student numbers divided by teacher numbers to create an index of resourcing tells us nothing about the quality of teaching and learning happening in the classrooms of each school.

It tells us nothing about the needs of the students and what is being done to meet those needs.

Academic research has repeatedly pointed to teacher quality as a far greater influence on student outcomes than class size.

A simple student to teacher ratio also does not take account of the many different learning models in place in 21st Century schools, nor does it take account of the differences between school communities.

Claims that a country school with 22 students is ‘better resourced’ than schools with hundreds of students do not ring true.

As a community let’s stop creating meaningless comparisons that contribute to division and work together at building up all our school communities to be places where young people’s lives are enriched through quality teaching and learning.