The National Chair of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), Mrs Karen Spiller, urged parents to look beyond My School data when evaluating schools. Her comments came as My School 2016 was released by ACARA this week.

‘My School offers parents insight into school performance on NAPLAN tests up to Year 9, but there are a host of parental concerns that the site does not address, and was not designed to address,’ said Mrs Spiller, who is Principal of St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School in Brisbane.

‘It is clear what makes for a quality education in an independent school in the eyes of our community, what they rate as the top strengths of their child’s independent school or why they would recommend their child’s independent school to others,’ said Mrs Spiller.

‘When parents are asked about what determines their satisfaction with their children’s school, top of the list is their children’s welfare, that is, whether their children are happy and safe. This accords with a global study conducted last year for Fisher-Price(1), which found a shift in mothers’ aspirations for their children: today’s parents, first and foremost, want their children to be happy.’

Mrs Spiller, one of my peers is correct. The top factors that have emerged from our survey of parents conducted in term 4 2015 show clearly why they choose The Knox School. They are

1. Quality of teaching (95%)
2. Focus on student wellbeing (92%)
3. Balanced education (88%)
4. Quality education at reasonable expense (88%)
5. The school’s values (88%)

Mrs Spiller said the Fisher-Price survey showed parents value the development of their children’s emotional intelligence, including their capacity for resilience and the ability to communicate and collaborate.

‘Australian schools are world leaders in applying programs to develop emotional intelligence,’ said Mrs Spiller. ‘However, these programs cannot be assessed by visiting the My School site.’

The Knox School has developed a strong and positive student culture where student’s emotional intelligence comes to the fore. We have data to support this view. In 2015, Middle School students’ data was gathered by independent third party professionals that showed that Knox Middle School students had exceptionally positive levels of resilience, mental health and well-being, hope and optimism. As an experienced educator, I know that it is in these years students are more likely to suffer from self-doubt, pessimism, issues of connectedness and risky behaviours.

This data set coupled with strong NAPLAN results provides Knox School parents with excellent value for their children.

AHISA is a professional association of 420 Principals of independent schools. Its members lead schools that collectively account for over 11 per cent of total Australian school enrolments and 20 per cent of Year 12 enrolments.
(1) Findings of the Fisher-Price survey are available at