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Argument/ Statistical Analysis

Argument/ Statistical Analysis

Standardizing the Argument

Major Premises

  1. Three new private schools have been approved by the ACT government. These include two Christian and one Islamic school which are to be built in ACT.

  2. No announcement regarding the approvals was made by the government.

  3. The Australian Education Union and Save Our Schools Lobby are furious that no public announcement by the government was made regarding the approvals.

  4. Joy Burch, the ACT Education Minister gave the green light in December 2012

  5. Allowed to establish a school includes the Brindabella Christian College which is to establish its campus at the old Charnwood High School, the Canberra Christian College run by the Seventh Day Adventist, which is to establish a school in the new Molonglo suburb of Wright, while the At Taqwa Islamic School is to be established at Gungahlin.

  6. The approvals could be found on the website of the Education Directorate.

  7. Flynn Primary was closed despite public outcry

  8. The projected population growth in Belconnen to 2021 was estimated at only 0.3 per cent a year, compared with the ACT average of 1.4 per cent.

  9. There were nearly 2000 excess places in government schools in north-west Belconnen.

  10. The latest ACT school census indicated that North Belconnen enrolments had shown continued growth — up by 135 students this year.

Major sub conclusions

  1. The fact that vast sums of public money will be used to subsidize these private creations means that the public must be informed of the ACT government’s decisions (1, 2, 3)

  2. The decision would draw enrolments from existing schools in Belconnen, add to excess capacity and threaten the future of some schools (5, 7, 8, 9)

  3. Approval of a new school in Belconnen defies all logic (7, 8)

  4. It contradicts the government’s own long-term policy to reduce excess school capacity in the region (7, 8, 9)

  5. It was insulting to the public to approve a private school in Belconnen after the distressing closure of Flynn Primary School in 2006 (1, 5, 7)

  6. Cannibalisation is the only possible outcome (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8)

  7. Members of the public should have a genuine say as to whether this is the way they want the ACT to go (1, 2, 3)

  8. Brindabella Christian School campus in Charnwood would be within a few hundred metres of Charnwood-Dunlop and St Thomas Aquinas Primary schools (5)

  9. No case for another private school in Belconnen (7, 8, 9)

  10. Taqwa Islamic School’s application indicated Belconnen or Gungahlin as potential sites (5)

Major conclusions

  1. Public outcry, as private schools are approved.

  2. The ACT government has approved three new private schools — two Christian and one Islamic — to be built in the ACT despite vehement protests from public education groups that they threaten the viability of government schools and could »cannibalise» enrolments.

Evaluating the argument and truth claims

  • The article seems to provide reasonable claims and statistics. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that the premises are not actually true.

  • The reasoning is quite deductive but not inductively strong because of a number of reasons namely;

  • Premises 1, 2, 3, 7 with sub conclusions 11, 13, 15, and 16 make the conclusion very likely

    • Would the approval of the private schools draw enrolment from other schools?

  • Is posting the approvals at the website of Education Directorate equivalent to public announcement?

  • Is the projected population growth in Belconnen to 2021 0.3 per cent a year or 1.4 per cent as provided by ACT?

  • The argument is quite strong with the supporting premises strongly outweighing the opposing premises and thus making the conclusion very likely.

Unsupported claims

  • Sub conclusion 16; cannibalization is the only possible outcome, is not substantiated by anything except for the belief that the private school approval would draw enrolment from other schools as well as increase the excess capacity.

  • Sub conclusion 12 – would private schools approval draw enrolment from the existing public schools?

Refuting the argument

  • The argument can be refuted as the premises do not provide adequate logical support for sub conclusion 12, and therefore the conclusion.

Analysis of the inductive reasoning

  • The argument is quite strong and thus the conclusion is likely as a result of most of the premises stated. In addition, the statistics as earlier reported largely support the premises and the conclusion. However, the statistics as provided by ACT, support the opposing premises. For instance, premise 8 states that the projected population growth in Belconnen to 2021 was estimated at only 0.3 per cent a year, compared with the ACT average of 1.4 per cent. Premise 10 further states that the latest ACT school census indicated that North Belconnen enrolments had shown continued growth — up by 135 students this year. The contradicting statistics suggest that there could be bias in reporting statistics especially by organizations with vested interests.

  • In this report, the conclusion made is actually supported by premises and sub conclusion which are quite adequately reliable to draw such conclusion. However, lack of substantial statistics to validate the supporting premises is of concern. For instance, the claim that approval of private schools would draw enrolment from the existing public schools is quite unreliable if there are no statistics to support it. Therefore, this report could be improved if reliable and validated statistics were given regarding the population growth rate, the number of student enrolment yearly in the respective regions and a judgment whether the ACT government have vested interests with regard to the approval of the three private schools.


Canberra times, (2013). Outcry as private schools approved, 8th May.