Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1997  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/06/1997   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Education >> Participation: Government and non-government schools

Participation in Education: Government and non-government schools

The proportion of students attending non-government schools has increased from 22% in 1974 to 29% in 1995.

Australia has a dual school system of government and non-government (independent) schools. In 1995, 74% of schools were government schools and the remaining 26% were non-government (18% Catholic, 1% Anglican, and 7% other schools). Although these proportions have remained relatively stable since the late 1940s, the proportion of students attending independent schools has been gradually increasing, rising from 22% in 1974 to 29% in 1995 (20% Catholic, 3% Anglican and 7% other schools). The other 71% of students attended government schools.

SCHOOL STUDENTS

1985
1995
1995
Level of education
%
%
'000

Non-government
25.8
29.0
901.5
    Primary
23.7
25.8
472.4
    Secondary
28.8
33.6
429.1
Government
74.2
71.0
2,207.9
    Primary
76.3
74.2
1,361.3
    Secondary
71.2
66.4
846.6
All schools
100.0
100.0
3,109.3

Source: Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).


Australian schools system

The ages that children attend primary and secondary school vary between the States. In all States children start school at age 5 or 6 and compulsory schooling ends at age 15 or 16. In Queensland and the Northern Territory secondary schooling finishes at age 16 or 17. In all the other States secondary schooling finishes at age 17 or 18. Each State and Territory also has a pre-school sector which is separate from the primary system and is not included in this review.

Government schools are those which are administered by the State or Territory governments.

Non-government (or independent) schools are those which are administered by a religious, community or private organisation. Non-government schools may have a specific religious affiliation or be inter-denominational, non-denominational, or have no religious affiliation.

Student/teacher ratios are the number of full-time students per full-time equivalent (FTE) teacher. This ratio is not an indicator of class size, but does gauge the level of teaching resources per student and teacher load.

Year 12 apparent retention rates are the proportion of full-time students who all began secondary school in the same year and continued through to year 12. However retention rates should be interpreted carefully since some factors affecting them are not taken into account. These include: students repeating years; students moving schools, students migrating overseas or interstate; overseas students; and differing State enrolment policies.


Participation
In 1995 there were 3.1 million school students, 901,500 of whom attended independent schools and 2.2 million, government schools. A smaller proportion of primary (26%) than secondary (34%) students attended independent schools.

Both primary and secondary independent schools have been taking an increasing number of students but the increase has been greater at the secondary school level. Between 1985 and 1995 the number of primary school students attending independent schools increased by 9% while the number attending secondary schools increased by 17%.

At each age from 5 to 11, the proportion of students attending independent schools was much the same (about 26%). However among secondary students the proportion attending independent schools increased with age from 30% at age 12 and 33% at age 13, to 37% at age 17.

Government schools tended to be larger than independent schools. At the primary school level there was a median of 214 students per government school and 195 students per independent school. The difference in school sizes was larger at the secondary level. Government secondary schools had a median size of 718 students while independent secondary schools had a median of 553 students.

PROPORTION OF STUDENTS WHO WENT TO NON-GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS


Source: Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).


Student/teacher ratios
Student/teacher ratios are not a reflection of class size. Rather, they are a measure of teaching resources per student and teacher load. Declines in student/teacher ratios over time indicate that teaching resources per student have increased.

Student/teacher ratios have dropped in both government and independent schools since 1974, from 20 and 22 students per teacher respectively, to 15 students per teacher in both systems in 1995.

In government schools (both primary and secondary), all of the decline occurred between 1974 and 1985. Over the last decade the number of students per teacher have remained at 18 in primary schools and 12 in secondary schools.

For independent schools most of the decline also occurred between 1974 and 1985. Over the last 10 years, the number of students in independent primary schools fell slightly from 20 to 19 and in independent secondary schools from 14 to 13.

STUDENT/TEACHER RATIOS


    (a) In 1984 the National Schools Statistics Collection was fully implemented. Care should be taken when comparing current data with data from before 1984.
    (b) Since 1988 specialist teachers have been separately identified from teachers.
    Source: Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).

STUDENT/TEACHER RATIOS


Source: Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).


Apparent retention rates
Comparisons of Year 12 retention rates over time indicate that children have been staying at school longer than did students a decade ago (see Education - national summary table). Year 12 retention rates do not account for movements of students between schools. There is a net movement of students in their final years of schooling, from government to independent schools. This can be inferred from the different age patterns of participation. This movement artificially increases the apparent retention rates of the independent schools and decreases those of the government schools.

In 1985 government secondary schools had an apparent Year 12 retention rate of 40% and independent schools had a rate of 66%. Apparent retention rates peaked in 1992, at 74% for government schools and 85% for independent schools. This may be related to the economic recession and the lack of jobs available for young people at that time (see Australian Social Trends 1995, Youth unemployment). Government youth and higher education policies which encouraged young people to continue their education may also have played a part1. However since 1992, following the easing of the recession, apparent retention rates have fallen, particularly for government schools. In 1995 government schools had an apparent retention rate of 67% compared to 83% for independent schools.

Apparent retention rates differ between independent schools. In 1995 Catholic schools had a rate of 75% which was only slightly higher than the government rate while Anglican schools had a rate of 99%.

YEAR 12 APPARENT RETENTION RATES


Source: Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).


Students attending non-government schools
Independent schools include Catholic schools, grammar schools and a range of denominational, inter-denominational and non-religious schools. In 1995 there were 2,500 independent schools and 901,500 independent school students.

Most independent schools had a religious affiliation. Although Census data shows that fewer individuals were identifying with a religious denomination, the number of students attending independent schools was, nevertheless, increasing. Schools with a religious affiliation tended to attract students of the same denomination (see Australian Social Trends 1994, Religion and education). However, Catholic schools educated more students than the number of Catholic school-age children (according to the 1991 Census). In contrast, Anglican schools attracted fewer enrolments than there were Anglican school-age children.

Most independent schools were Catholic. Catholic schools tended to be larger than other independent schools in both the primary and secondary sectors. Students attending Catholic schools were also proportionately less likely to be going to combined primary/secondary schools than were students attending other independent schools. Most of the smaller affiliations tended to have combined schools. These differences between Catholic and other independent schools were almost as marked as the differences between independent and government schools.

The number of students attending schools of all affiliations increased over the period 1985 to 1995. In particular, students attending Baptist schools increased from 5,800 to 13,400 and Lutheran from 11,900 to 20,100. The category of schools which included non-religious schools as well as those affiliated to Pentecostal and other newer denominations, also grew quickly. This group almost doubled in size from 56,300 students to 105,900 students.

There was a slightly higher proportion of girls in independent schools in 1995, than in government schools (50% compared to 49%). However Anglican schools had fewer girls (47%) than boys.

As was the case for government schools, independent secondary schools had fewer students per teacher (13) than independent primary schools (19). Of the various independent schools, Catholic and Lutheran schools had the highest numbers of students per teacher of both primary and secondary schools. Uniting Church schools had the lowest number of students per teacher (14) of primary schools and Seventh Day Adventist schools had the lowest (11) among secondary schools.

STUDENTS(a) ATTENDING NON-GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS, 1995

Primary
Secondary
Combined
Total
Total
Affiliation
%
%
%
%
'000

Anglican
1.3
3.1
25.2
9.9
89.1
Baptist
0.3
0.5
3.6
1.5
13.4
Catholic
90.2
88.5
24.6
67.5
607.2
Jewish
0.4
0.2
2.2
1.0
8.9
Lutheran
2.8
2.5
1.3
2.2
20.1
Presbyterian
0.1
0.1
2.5
0.9
8.4
Seventh Day Adventist
0.8
0.8
0.6
0.7
6.7
Uniting Church
0.1
0.0
13.0
4.5
40.2
Other
3.8
4.3
26.8
11.8
105.9
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
899.9
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total
354.8
239.6
305.5
899.9
. .

(a) Excludes students attending special schools.

Source: Department of Employment, Education and Training, Non-Government Schools Bulletin (unpublished data).

STUDENT/TEACHER RATIOS(a) AT NON-GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS, 1995

Primary
Secondary
Total
Affiliation
ratio
ratio
ratio

Anglican
14.8
11.7
12.6
Baptist
18.0
11.9
14.4
Catholic
20.3
13.7
16.8
Jewish
18.1
11.3
14.6
Lutheran
19.0
13.3
16.1
Presbyterian
14.8
11.3
12.1
Seventh Day Adventist
18.1
11.0
14.5
Uniting Church
14.2
11.3
12.1
Other
17.0
11.7
13.9
Total
19.1
12.8
15.5

(a) Excludes students and teachers in non-government special schools.

Source: Department of Employment, Education and Training, Non-Government Schools Bulletin (unpublished data).


Non-government single-sex schools
There has been some debate over whether single-sex or co-educational schools improve further education and career prospects for girls or boys2. Traditionally single-sex schools, which are more prevalent among independent schools, have attracted students from a higher socio-economic status than co-educational ones. This has made studies of the effects of single-sex and co-educational schools on student performances difficult to interpret3.

The proportion of students from independent schools attending single-sex schools, has dropped from 31% in 1985 to 24% in 1995. In secondary schools, 55% of boys and 54% of girls went to single-sex schools, in 1985. However by 1995 the proportion attending single-sex secondary schools had dropped to 41% of boys and 45% of girls.

STUDENTS(a) ATTENDING NON-GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS

1985
1995


Primary
Secondary
Total
Primary
Secondary
Total
School type
%
%
%
%
%
%

Single-sex
8.6
54.8
30.7
6.9
43.3
24.2
    Male
6.1
27.3
16.2
3.6
20.7
11.7
    Female
2.6
27.5
14.5
3.3
22.6
12.5
Co-educational
91.4
45.2
69.3
93.1
56.7
75.8
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total
403.1
367.9
770.9
471.6
428.3
899.9

(a) Excludes students in non-government special schools.

Source: Department of Employment, Education and Training, Non-Government Schools Bulletin (unpublished data).


Socio-economic status of students
Independent schools select and attract students from different socio-economic backgrounds to those in government schools. Generally the higher the income quintile of the household, the greater the likelihood that at least one child from the household was attending an independent school. Among households with school-age children, 22% of those in the lowest quintile (the 20% of households with the lowest incomes) and 14% of those in the second quintile had children attending an independent school. In comparison 41% of those in the highest quintile had children attending independent schools.

The amounts paid in school fees and contributions are substantially higher for children attending independent schools than government schools, especially for secondary students. In 1993-94 households with children in government schools paid an average of $2.00 per week per child for those in primary school and $4.81 per week for those in secondary school. In contrast the fees and contributions paid for students attending independent schools averaged $24.78 per week for primary school students and $75.78 for secondary school students. Households in the highest quintile paid higher independent school fees and contributions than those in the lowest quintile. However households in all quintiles paid similar government school fees and contributions.

HOUSEHOLDS WITH AT LEAST ONE CHILD ATTENDING A NON-GOVERNMENT SCHOOL, 1993-94


Source: 1993–94 Household Expenditure Survey (unpublished data).

AVERAGE SCHOOL FEES PER STUDENT PER WEEK(a), 1993-94

Income quintile of households with school age children

Lowest quintile
Second quintile
Highest quintile
Total
School child attended
$
$
$
$

Government
Primary
1.66
1.58
2.10
2.00
Secondary
4.88
3.97
4.69
4.81
Non-government
Primary
23.62
14.40
40.76
24.78
Secondary
64.21
63.19
98.48
75.78
Total
14.64
9.76
39.31
21.28

(a) Averaged over the whole year.

Source: 1993-94 Household Expenditure Survey (unpublished data).


Further education and work
The outcomes for students attending government and independent schools in terms of whether they go on to further study or have better employment prospects, is of interest. Differences are observable but it is important to note that the reasons do not necessarily reflect differences in the schools themselves. This is because students attending some independent schools come from families in which the parents have been well educated or from families with high incomes. It is to be expected that children from these families will themselves be more likely to undertake further study or find work opportunities.

In 1995 there were 275,000 people aged 15-24 who had left school in 1994. The majority of these (54%) attended tertiary education in 1995. However those who had attended independent schools were more likely to be in a tertiary institution than those who attended government schools (74% compared to 46%). 43% of school leavers who attended independent schools, were in higher education compared to 19% of government school leavers. The proportions of independent and government school leavers attending TAFE were similar (27% and 25% respectively).

Of those not attending a tertiary institution, 72% of independent school leavers were employed compared to 56% of government school leavers. A smaller proportion of independent than government school leavers were unemployed (24% compared to 33%).

In 1995, there were 1.5 million people aged 15-24 who were not attending any educational institutions. Those who had attended independent schools were more likely to have post-school qualifications than those who had attended government schools (55% compared to 36%).

Of those who had attended an independent school, 19% had a bachelor degree or higher qualification compared to 7% of those who had attended a government school. Also, a higher proportion of ex-independent school students had attained a skilled or basic vocational qualification than those who had attended government schools.

PERSONS AGED 15-24 WHO LEFT SCHOOL IN 1994

Type of school last attended

Government
Non-government
Total
Whether attending a tertiary institution in 1995
%
%
%

Attending(a)
46.4
73.9
53.8
    Higher education
18.9
43.3
25.5
    TAFE
24.7
26.8
25.2
Not attending
53.6
26.1
46.2
    Employed
29.9
18.8
26.9
    Unemployed
17.8
6.2*
14.7
    Not in the labour force
6.0
1.1*
4.7
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
Total
200.9
73.8
274.7

(a) Includes other tertiary institutions.

Source: Transition from Education to Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0).

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT OF ALL PEOPLE AGED 15-24 WHO HAD LEFT SCHOOL AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, 1995

Type of school last attended

Government
Non-government
Total
Attainment
%
%
%

With post-school qualifications
35.8
54.9
40.0
    Bachelor degree or higher
7.2
18.9
9.8
    Undergraduate diploma
1.1
2.5
1.4
    Associate diploma
5.8
8.5
6.4
    Skilled vocational qualifications
10.9
13.4
11.5
    Basic vocational qualifications
10.8
11.6
10.9
Without post-school qualifications
64.2
45.1
60.0
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
Total
1,154.5
324.3
1,479.1

Source: Transition From Education to Work, Australia (unpublished data).


Endnotes
1 Department of Employment, Education and Training 1993, National Report on Australia's Higher Education Sector, AGPS, Canberra.

2 Smith, I. 'The co-educational/single-sex schooling debate', Forum of Education, Vol.49, no.1, April 1994, pp. 15–31.

3 Commonwealth Schools Commission 1987, The National Policy for the Education of Girls in Australian Schools, Commonwealth Schools Commission, Canberra.

Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.