Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Richard Berlach


Society appears to be exhibiting an innate belief that the private school system provides a better education, a moral education and the opportunity to secure a place in the workforce more so than its counterpart, the public school system (Australian Council of Educational Research, 1980). A 1.5% shill of Australian school students from the public school system to the private school system each year has been reported (Kemp, 1997). Previous research indicates that parents are choosing the private system as they perceive an educational advantage over public schools (Australian Council of Educational Research, 1980). The purpose of this study is to explore possible relationships between two dependant variables: academic ability; and moral reasoning, in year five students. The study was conducted in the Perth metropolitan area with the sample being purposefully selected by the independent variables of the study; namely, the school system, gender of the subjects, and socio-economic status (SES) of the school neighbourhood. The SES was defined according to !he latest available census data (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1998). Dependant variable data was collected using two tests, the Moral Judgement Test (MJT) and the NFER-NELSON Non-Verbal Reasoning 8 & 9 instrument. Two schools from a high SES neighbourhood, one private, one public and two schools from a low SES neighbourhood, one private, one public, were selected. A total of 80 students completed the sample with 59% being boys and 41% girls. The study was constructed as a 3 x 2 x 2 factorial design with descriptive and inferential statistics being used to identify significant differences among variables. Analysis of the data was conducted using a MANOVA, utilising the SPSS 10 (Coakcs & Steed, 2001) package. The alpha level for all tests was .05. The results reported one significant difference between SES and Academic Ability. There were no significant differences among the other variables. The Academic Ability and SES results corroborated previous research. The findings for the remaining variables did not find support in previous research. Implications and recommendations for further studies arc considered.