This item was published in the ‘NT Sun’ on June 19 2018


Our Northern Territory Public Education System is often disparaged. It is held to be of lesser worth than its interstate counterparts. That is an unfortunate and inaccurate conception.

One of the challenges I faced as a school principal was that of parents coming from interstate assuming that NT Government schools were inferior to those they were leaving behind. In fact, NT public education more than holds its own. School leaders and teachers deserve thanks for the job they do. They work hard in urban, town and rural settings, supporting students across all social and cultural contexts.

I think at times when enrolling children from interstate, school leaders tend to be defensive of ‘have to’ parents. Parent have to enrol their children in NT. Schools because of work transfer. They may be apprehensive about the NT and what education offers. They don’t really ‘want to’ enrol in our schools.

We don’t need to justify our system to newcomers, or apologise for what our schools offer. They are up there with the best in Australia. This needs to be communicated to parents. Children being enrolled also deserve this reassurance. Visiting the Department of Education website and those maintained by our schools, confirms the many good things happening within the public education sector.

I can visit this topic as a parent as well as being a retired NT school principal. We came to the Territory in the 1970’s with our three young children. We lived and worked (and they were schooled) in remote communities, then town schools (Alyangula and Nhululunbuy) before we transferred into Darwin. Their primary, secondary and tertiary education was largely completed within the Northern Territory. They have in no way been reduced because of this experience, going on to become significant societal and economic contributors. The positive educational outcomes experienced by our children have been reduplicated for many thousands of other Territory families.

I believe public schools are sometimes discounted because they offer ‘free’ education. Private schools place a far heavier financial burden on parents. This can be a factor in shaping the attitude that ‘private education is better because we have to pay’. Government schools and their teachers provide quality education for a diverse group of multicultural students of all ages and ability levels.

The Territory encourages parent and community participation in establishing school policy through school councils or boards. This enables members to contribute to further enhancing public education.

Our Public School educational system is up there with the best. Our educators do not deserve put downs.


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