Scrap My School site: Piccoli

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli wants the controversial My School website scrapped, arguing it is a waste of money that could be better spent on improving teacher quality.

Mr Piccoli said the publishing of NAPLAN results on My School was directly responsible for putting students under unnecessary and inappropriate stress.

My School was updated this week with the latest NAPLAN data, showing the performance of students who sat reading, writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation and numeracy tests.

Mr Piccoli said it was the publication of these results, not the tests themselves, that was damaging and the website was “of no real value”.

“The bottom line is My School has negative impacts, it is used as a marketing tool for schools and the money spent on My School could be better used,” he said.

In 2012, when in opposition, now federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said a Coalition government would axe the publication of individual school results on My School.

A spokesman from his office yesterday said My School would be retained but “as promised, we will look to ensure it is a useful tool for parents and educators”.

The spokesman said the federal government would review My School and NAPLAN as part of its election commitment.

Mr Piccoli said he supported the continuation of NAPLAN testing but he wanted an end to the publication of its results because of the “unintended consequences” it created.

“I’ve been told a story of a kid in year 3 throwing up on the morning of the NAPLAN test because of the anxiety surrounding the tests,” Mr Piccoli said.

“This stress never happened when we did Basic Skills testing in NSW because it was simply a diagnostic tool, it wasn’t publicised.”

NSW introduced the Basic Skills test in 1989, which tested students in years 3 and 5 in literacy and numeracy and reported to parents as well as schools.

Julia Gillard introduced My School in 2010.

At the time, it was widely criticised amid warnings it could unfairly harm schools.

One of the most unpopular features of the site, the index measuring socio-educational advantage, was this year revised to ensure comparisons between similar schools were more accurate.

Mr Piccoli said the website was hugely expensive to maintain, costing taxpayers “millions and millions of dollars” and he would spend the money elsewhere.

“My School costs a lot of money and I think if we put that money into training teachers, that would be a better way of spending.”