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Free Schools

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  23 reviews
The bestselling author of Sweet Poison shows us how to get the better of an education system that is costing a fortune in fees, yet failing to deliver.

David Gillespie has six kids. When it came time to select high schools, he thought it worth doing some investigation to assess the level of advantage his kids would enjoy if he spent the required $1.3 million to send the
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 1st 2014 by Macmillan Australia
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Jacki (Julia Flyte)
This is a book about the Australian school system, so if you don't live in Australia, you're unlikely to be terribly interested in it. Nevertheless the author presents a lot of information about global best practice in education and the things that don't matter a jot, much of which is applicable to other countries.

For example, if you were choosing a school for your child - and assuming that you could afford it - would you not be attracted to a single sex school with high fees but offering gorgeo
May 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an easy-to-read guide to parents on what to look for when selecting a school. It covers the history of education in Australia and explains how we ended up with the two tier system of government funded schools (all schools are government funded). It would be tremendous to read as a parent, but it also makes fascinating reading as a teacher. It is a summary of the research to date on what works and what is just a waste of money, and is relayed in a charming style.
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a good read, reminding me of the inequities of our different tiers of schooling.

I fail to understand why government funding is proportionately different across the tiers. I'm not happy about funding independent schools, after all, parents make a choice about sending their kids to them, so why should public schools miss out on per student funding? However, I recognise it makes some sense.

I do believe however, that all schools should receive the same amount per student, with extra allocat
A fascinating read. As always, the author communicates the concepts and research clearly, and even does so entertainingly. It was both disheartening to read about the problems with the Australian education system, and enlightening to read research-based, step-by-step instructions on choosing a good school, regardless of fees. I think it will be really helpful one day when we're choosing schools for our (as yet non-existent) children.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved the first half of the book explaining how the Australian school system evolved from colonisation. Interesting advice in the second half. Well-written and -researched.
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-read
yet another book I've read on this subject to help me get my ahead around exactly what I value in terms of education! Given I'm in the midst of school open day tours, interviews, and generally immersed in all things "choosing a school" this book provided a sound and reassuring perspective that private schools are no better than public in terms of educational outcomes for students or teacher quality, but that you certainly are paying for better resources (green grassy sports fields, sports stadiu ...more
Adam Woods
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A frank and fascinating look at the school system in Australia - or, more specifically, what works and what doesn’t.

The value of this book is not only in its tireless use of studies from around the world but also in its actionable tips to help you choose the right school for your son or daughter.

In short, we are spun a yarn. What we are told matters, really doesn’t. But what does matter then? Good teachers, good parenting and good variation in educational activities. And I buy that.

Education in
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: improving, oz, rl, parenting
Very useful. David Gillespie writes in a straightforward, very readable way - so despite there being lots of information to digest, it's a quick read. This is written for parents, not policy wonks.

The first part of the book includes a potted history of education in Australia, which was fascinating; I realised how very little I had known about this. The second part of the book focuses on what makes a good school. The answer is (1) good teachers and (2) a strong principal. Everything else is subs
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a readable book that claims to distill the research on what matters in choosing a school into one short book. My only criticism is that I expected footnotes and a long list of references to research papers to support the author's claims. There were minimal bibliographic references so I'm still left wondering whether the author's conclusions are based on solid evidence.

That said, I'm a teacher and my background reading of a lot of educational research does generally support the author's
Miriam Raphael
Mar 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Really interesting to read about how the education system started in Australia and the history of the government/independent school divide. Had no idea about history of the teachers union so that was also fascinating. Despite a load of stats (a MASSIVE load) David remains reasonably entertaining throughout the book. I still don't feel terribly confident that I can find a govt high school that meets his criteria but it does give me something to go on.
Ruby  Doomsday
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Easy guide on the education system in Australia. Pro-public system, and acknowledges all normal fears, ideals and desires of parents wanting the best education for their children. It re enforced the fact that public schools are enough and the need for fantastic teachers.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
So interesting! I highly recommend this to my teacher friends.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very interesting read on the Australian School system.
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
loved it...just what I needed to read as #1 heads to high school next year
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is essential reading for teachers as well as parents. I don't agree with everything he says, but he's spot on for most of it.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
good read
Alison Matthews
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Found this book to be relevant to the current education system in Australia.
Suggested considerations when choosing a school was well informed and useful.
Libby Newman
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A good explanation of Australian schools system
Mary Malin Lamond
Great insight into the Australian education system and what to look for in a school (public or private).
Helen Hanna
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Maybe a few assumptions underpinning this, but apart from that, excellent ideas for choosing schools.
Fiona Dobrzynski
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Although I admire Gillespie and enjoyed this book, never once does he acknowledge that parents may have other reasons than education or status for sending their children to a religious school. You can mention any weird philosophy or idea except God, in public schools, and not everybody wants Evolution shoved down their kids' throats. Christian schools acknowledge Evolution but teach Creation also.
I went all public myself, which was fine academically, and I got into Melbourne University, but fou
Jun 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: education-school
Recommended for parents, this book simplifies a lot of educational research to show which factors you should consider when choosing a school. Interesting as a parent, but also as a teacher, although my inside knowledge meant I found some of the generalisations and overall recommendations a bit simplistic.
Sarah Bull
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David Gillespie is a recovering corporate lawyer, former co-founder of a successful software company and investor in several software startups.

He is also the father of six young children (including one set of twins). With such a lot of extra time on his hands, and 40 extra kilos on his waistline, he set out to investigate why he, like so many in his generation, was fat.

He deciphered the latest med

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