Socioeconomic status & your child's education

Posted By Irena Sikorska  

Why do students in some schools consistently out-perform students in other schools, year after year?


Ask five parents and five teachers that question and they'll likely give you very different answers. 


We all know that good schools have quality teachers, a strong leadership team, sound policies which are administered consistently, and effective methods of communication, both with students and their parents.  


But that's not the full story.


Some factors which impact on a child's performance at school are outside the control of the principal and the teachers. Socioeconomic status, both of the family and of the school itself, plays a significant role in a child's educational outcomes. This has been extensively supported by research, in Australia and overseas.


Socioeconomic status typically refers to the educational level of the parents, their occupations and their income. 


In Perth, there is a very strong relationship between the socioeconomic status of students at a school and their test scores, as measured by NAPLAN and ATAR. In other words, students at schools with a high socioeonomic index (as measured by ICSEA, available on the My School website) do better on NAPLAN and ATAR tests.


So should parents try as far as possible to enrol their child in a school with a high socioeconomic index? Does it mean their child will do better?


Yes. And, no, not necessarily.


It's true that if your child attends a school with a high ICSEA then their chances of doing well at school are better than if they attend a school with a low ICSEA. However, as high as possible isn't necessarily the best option for your child.


Test measurements give you information about your child's educational performance. But they are not the only measure, either of performance or of a child's skills and knowledge. 


Try to find a balance that works for your child. Always consider first and foremost who your child is, what their life and occupational aspirations are, and whether they need any extra support or activities. Choose a school which you believe is the best fit for your child. You might find that a school with a slightly above average ICSEA (over 1000) has many positive attributes which you assess are important for your child.


If you have any further questions about choosing the right school for your child, contact us to book an individual consultation in the comfort of your own home.