Products – The Centre for Independent Studies

Pain without gain: Why school closures are bad policy

Blaise Joseph, Glenn Fahey
24 May 2020 | PP28
Pain without gain: Why school closures are bad policy

The decision by state and territory governments to strongly advise parents to keep their children at home and essentially close schools went against the health, economic, and educational evidence. There was little health benefit, while there were substantial economic and educational costs.

Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT, New South Wales, and Queensland are in a group with the longest government school closures, ranging from 6 to 9 weeks. South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory are in a group with much shorter closures, ranging between only 1 and 2 weeks.

The negative educational impact is larger for students from disadvantaged social backgrounds. In Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT, and New South Wales disadvantaged students face between 2 and 3 weeks of lost learning in numeracy and between 1 and 2 weeks of lost learning in reading. In Queensland, disadvantaged students face around 2 weeks of lost learning in numeracy and 1 week of lost learning in reading. In South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory disadvantaged students are likely to be only marginally affected.

Digital education is beneficial only as a supplement to normal face-to-face teaching, so students learning entirely from home are unlikely to experience the benefits.

The learning lost due to Australian school closures is not irretrievable, but it does require state and territory governments to help students who have fallen behind catch up with their peers.

Latest Publications

The MMT Hoax
Tony Makin, Gene Tunny
27 May 2021 | PP41

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a supposedly new macroeconomic paradigm, but it is essentially a reprise of 1930s Keynesian economics. Its central premise — that countries which can borrow in their own currencies should not worry about government deficits and can finance as much government spending as they want — is deeply flawed, yet it has political appeal and has…

Does high-rise development damage neighbourhood character?
Peter Tulip, Zachary Lanigan
29 April 2021 | PP40

Local residents often oppose new apartment buildings on the grounds that they would harm neighbourhood character. This paper suggests these concerns are overstated. The paper examines several examples of high-rise development in Sydney: Chatswood, Forest Lodge, Green Square, Liverpool and Turrella. If these developments harmed neighbourhood character, as local residents often claim, nearby house prices should fall. But that does…

Make every drop count, and count every drop: Vanishing groundwater needs proper monitoring and management
Grahame Campbell
22 April 2021 | PP39

Aquifer groundwater is a crucial and valuable resource for Australia, but is poorly managed and monitored to the point of being neglected in some areas. This neglect is a risk for the future of Australia’s $60 billion agriculture production and industry that relies on the resource in an arid country. About 30% of Australia’s total water consumption comes from groundwater,…

Resisting China’s Economic Coercion: Why America should support Australia
Alan Dupont
08 April 2021 | PP38

China’s unprecedented trade campaign against Australia is a case study in economic coercion for geopolitical purposes. Its aim is twofold: to bend Canberra to Beijing’s will and to decouple it from the US alliance system. Australia has withstood such pressure to date, but needs American support. This paper argues that the Biden Administration should lead in helping Australia and other…

Australians’ Attitudes to Social Media: Connection or Curse?
Monica Wilkie
29 March 2021 | PP37

Social media appears in the news cycle, almost daily, and the majority of the coverage is negative. Politicians from all sides, and bureaucratic agencies have been warning about the apparent danger social media pose to journalism, democracy, business, and civil society. But Australians are far more optimistic about social media than the alarmist narrative. The CIS commissioned YouGov to poll…