BIG PICTURE THINKING: Star of the Sea principal Nathan Wilson says teacher-student ratios at his school are no cause for concern.
BIG PICTURE THINKING: Star of the Sea principal Nathan Wilson says teacher-student ratios at his school are no cause for concern. Alistair Brightman

Statistics just part of school story, principal says

IF YOU want to know about a school, visit its classrooms.

That is what Nathan Wilson, Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School's principal believes.

Responding to reports that his school had the highest number of students per teacher on the Fraser Coast, Mr Wilson told the Chronicle the figures did not hurt student performance.

Star of the Sea had 17.4 students per teacher, according to 2018 national data from the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.

The data only took full-time equivalent teaching staff into account, not teacher aides or non-teaching staff.

Mr Wilson said non-teaching staff played a significant role in the school, in and out of the classroom.

He also said the school was committed to "building teacher capacity”.

Mr Wilson said the school took a "holistic” approach to teaching, and class size was not a major focus.

Star of the Sea has a number of specialist teachers on staff, in areas such as science and music. The school is also able to access professional services, such as speech therapy, when needed.

Mr Wilson said while every school would benefit from more teachers, in his five years as principal, he had not observed class sizes to be a problem.

Star of the Sea receives federal funding for one full-time teacher per 25 students in Prep to Year 3, and 30 students for Years 4 to 6.

The school has about 330 students across 14 classes.

Mr Wilson said as an independent Catholic school, Star of the Sea focused on partnering with parents in its values-based approach to education.

Ensuring learning was fun was another priority, Mr Wilson said. He pointed out a large class was not necessarily a problem if the students were engaged and motivated to learn.

According to the ACARA data, every Fraser Coast school fell well below 20 students per teacher last year and returned better results than regions of a similar size, including Bundaberg.