Principal hits back at HSC ‘gaming’ claims

A private school principal has responded to claims that wealthy students are more likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities in order to get special treatment in exams, saying they are “insulting” and “inaccurate”.

On Thursday, NSW Secondary Principals Council (NSWSPC) president, Chris Presland, pointed to MySchool data which showed The King’s School in North Parramatta having 98.9 full-time equivalent non-teaching staff compared to just 10.7 at his school, St Clair High School.

“The reality is that the staff at a school like The Kings are working to put together submissions for all kinds of things like specialist support and so on, whereas at my school, of those 10 staff, there is the general assistant, farm assistant and finance office,” he explained.
However, The King’s School principal, Tim Hawkes, told The Educator that as his school is both a boarding and day school which sits on 300 acres and has dozens of buildings to maintain, the school was justified in having the resources it does.
“To fulfil our duty of care, we need a large number of boarding staff, kitchen staff, laundry staff, cleaning staff, medical staff, maintenance staff, grounds staff - and the list could go on,” Hawkes said.
Hawkes said that like many educators, he believes there needs to be “fairness and consistency in applying the disability rules” for HSC students.
“For Mr Presland to suggest King's is exploiting inappropriate loopholes is as insulting as it is inaccurate, and to imply that King's has an army engaged in finding disability loopholes is ludicrous,” he said.
“It betrays an intelligence blighted by bias – which is a shame because the point he is making, i.e., that some schools may know how to work the system better than others, is, in my view, a fair one.
“Educators need to do better than fire cheap shots at each other in debates like this.”