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Question Time

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at The Wheeler Centre

Public vs Private Education

‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest’, Benjamin Franklin said, and it seems most people agree that education is important. Unfortunately, we disagree on the details: what constitutes a good education? And who should pay for it?

Education reform has featured in the ambitions of all prime ministers in this last decade of revolving-door leadership. Most recently, Malcolm Turnbull has proposed a radical plan of turning over funding of public education from the federal government to the states.

Last year, University of Queensland published a widely publicised study, showing that private school education does not give students an academic edge over their public school counterparts. So, why do governments keep pouring money into them? And why do parents continue to make sacrifices to educate their kids privately? Is an education about more than academic results and, if so, what do private schools offer that public schools don’t? How much of this is about marketing and perception?

We’ll unpack these questions, and more, in a full hour of audience Q&A. Hosted by Madeleine Morris with Monash University education researcher, David Zyngier; former Camberwell High principal, Elida Brereton; and Lucy Clark, author of Beautiful Failures.


Portrait of Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris is a Melbourne-based reporter for ABC television’s 7.30. She was formerly a presenter for the BBC in London and reported from dozens of countries before returning to her native Australia. She is the author of Guilt-Free Bottle-Feeding: Why Your Formula-Fed Baby Can Grow Up To Be Happy, Healthy and Smart, published by Finch. 

Portrait of David Zyngier

David Zyngier

David Zyngier is a senior lecturer in curriculum and pedagogy at Monash University. Previously, he was a teacher and school principal. 

His research has attracted significant funding and covers teacher pedagogies and beliefs and how they impact the learning and achievement of children from disadvantaged and marginalised communities. From 2016–2018, David will use the expertise and experience of Australia’s excellence in civics and citizenship education to assist in the development of a national Civics Education framework in Thailand as the country moves forward to full democracy.

Portrait of Lucy Clark

Lucy Clark

Lucy Clark is a journalist and editor with 31 years’ experience in newspapers and magazines in Sydney, London and New York. She was most recently the editor of the news and opinion website the Hoopla, and has worked as a literary editor, features writer and opinion columnist. She is now a senior editor at Guardian Australia. Her book Beautiful Failures: How the Quest for Success is Harming Our Kids was released 2016.

Portrait of Elida Brereton

Elida Brereton

Elida Brereton is a teacher, school principal and educational consultant and leader. Brereton has spent 43 years as teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal in the Victorian government school system, with nearly 18 years as Principal – at Brentwood Secondary College (1993–1994) and at Camberwell High School (1994–2010).

She's a Fellow of the Australia Council of Educational Leaders, former National President and Fellow of the Australian College of Educators, Honorary Life Member of the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria and a Life Member of the Victorian State Secondary Principals' Association.

Question Time

When you think ‘question time’, perhaps you picture rowdy politicians cussing each other out. But in our regular series, we’re putting the dignity back into proceedings … along with a generous amount of time. It’s one full hour of pure Q&A between you, our audience, moderator Madeleine Morris, and a panel of experts in the evening’s chosen field of inquiry. Get informed about the key issues of our time. BYO hot potatoes and burning questions.

Hosted by Madeleine Morris.


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