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4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/03/2009   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication contains statistics on government and non-government schools, students and staff as at August 2008.

2 These statistics were obtained from the annual non-finance National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) which is a collaborative arrangement between state, territory and Australian Government education authorities and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The NSSC uses a set of concepts, definitions and classifications developed jointly by these agencies. For more detailed information about the structure and scope of the NSSC refer to the Glossary.


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

3 The statistics in this publication relate to establishments which have, as their major activity, the administration and/or provision of full-time day primary, secondary or special education, or primary or secondary distance education. Major activity is based on the activity of students or, where this is not appropriate, for example in administrative offices, on the activity of staff. Therefore, the statistics presented do not include establishments, students or staff engaged in school level education conducted by other institutions, in particular Technical and Further Education (TAFE) establishments.

4 Statistics for the government series relate to all establishments administered by the Department of Education under the Director-General of Education (or equivalent) in each state and territory, students attending those establishments, and all staff engaged in the administration or provision of government school education at those establishments. Statistics for the non-government series relate to all in-scope establishments not administered by the Department of Education in these states and territories.

5 Emergency and casual relief teaching staff employed on a casual basis are not included in this collection, as they replace permanent teaching staff absent for short periods of time. These permanent teaching staff are already counted in this collection.

6 Education services in Jervis Bay Territory are provided by the Australian Capital Territory Department of Education and Training, through Australian government funding. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for Jervis Bay Territory are included in statistics for the ACT.


CHANGES IN SCOPE AND COVERAGE OVER TIME

7 The WA Department of Education and Training advised of two changes to the structure of WA schooling from 2002. Pre-year 1 was extended to five days a week, bringing these students within the scope of the NSSC. The other change was to the age at which children may commence Pre-year 1. Prior to 2002, children were eligible to attend Pre-year 1 in WA if they turned five any time during the year. In 2002, only those who had turned five by 30 June 2002 were eligible for Pre-year 1. This resulted in a half cohort entering the school system in 2002. In 2008, this half cohort is in Year 6. In 2006 the leaving age was raised to 16 and in 2008 this was further amended to 17 years OR in alternative training OR in approved employment.

8 The WA Department of Education and Training also advised that, from 2003, the majority of students in a small number of WA colleges are no longer in the scope of the NSSC and have been classified as belonging to the vocational education and training sector. The removal of these students in 2003 to 2008 has affected a number of series. It has, for example, contributed to a fall in apparent retention rates in WA when compared with earlier years.

9 The Qld Department of Education, Training and the Arts advised of a change to the structure of Qld schooling from 2007. A year of formal Pre-Year 1 schooling, called a Preparatory year, has been introduced following successful trials in a small number of schools over the previous 4 years. In 2007, only a half cohort was enrolled in Pre-Year1. The 2008 data shows around 95% of the expected cohort attended Pre-Year 1, while the half cohort from 2007 were now in Year 1.

10 Changes in the admissions policy for Tasmanian schools in 1993, resulted in an upward change in the age profile of students commencing school in that year, and subsequent years, relative to the years prior to 1993. The changed age profile moved progressively through the grades, and, from 2005 onwards, represented as a significant increase in the participation rate of 18 year olds.


CENSUS DATE

11 The census date for the collection, for all states and territories, is the first Friday in August each year. For 2008, this was 1 August. The age reference date was 1 July for all states and territories.


METHODOLOGY

12 The statistics were compiled from collections conducted in cooperation with the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), by the state and territory Departments of Education (government series), and by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) (non-government series).

13 The methodologies employed in compiling the government sector aggregates, on which the statistics in this publication are based, vary between the different state and territory Departments of Education. They range from accessing central administrative records to direct collection of data from establishments.

14 DEEWR collects data directly from establishments in the non-government sector for all states and territories. The non-government sector statistics in this publication are a summary of results from that collection.


INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS

15 In interpreting the figures in this publication, users should be aware that comparability of statistics between states and territories and between government and non-government schools in any one state or territory is affected by differences in the organisation of grades, policy on student intake and advancement, flows from secondary to vocational education, and the recruitment and employment of teachers. Similarly, the relatively small populations in some states and territories can promote apparently large movements in rates and ratios, which may be based on relatively small movements in absolute numbers.

16 There is no Australia-wide standard method of allocating students and classes to a certain year of school education (grade). A number of schools (other than special schools) do not maintain a formal grade structure. Students at these schools have been allocated to equivalent grades where possible by relevant education authorities, but otherwise appear against the ungraded category in either the primary or secondary level of school education.

17 This publication uses Estimated Resident Population (ERP) data in the calculation of school participation rates, which is preliminary data due to the timing of release of both the Schools and ERP data. The school participation rates series is revised every five years using final data, after intercensal adjustments have been made to the ERP following the quinqennial Population Census.

18 NOTE: Non-participation in school education cannot be accurately derived for any state or territory by the subtraction of school participation rates from %100. Population data is estimated, and is based on usual residence within a defined state or territory boundary, while school data may include students who cross those boundaries to attend school.


Caution

19 Tables 1, 2, 4 and 5 include counts of the number of schools in a time series format. The number of schools in a particular year can be affected by structural change in the composition of schooling rather than necessarily a change in the number of sites delivering full-time school education. For example, if several schools amalgamated into one large and complex multi-campus school or if a primary school and a secondary school combined into one school, the statistics would show a decrease in the number of schools.


APPARENT RETENTION RATES

20 To calculate the apparent retention rate of full-time students at the Australia level (as shown in table 22), the total number of full-time students in Year 12 in 2008 is divided by the number of full-time students in the base year, which is Year 7 in NSW, Vic., Tas. and the ACT in 2003 and Year 8 in Qld, SA, WA and the NT in 2004 (since those years represent the commencement of the secondary school system in the respective state or territory). The resultant figure is converted to a percentage.

21 NOTE: The change to the structure of schooling in the NT in 2008 will not begin to effect the calculation of apparent retention rates until the 2008 year 7 students enter Year 9 in 2010.

22 Care should be exercised in the interpretation of apparent retention rates as the method of calculation does not take into account a range of factors. At the Australia level these include students repeating a year of education, migration and other net changes to the school population. At lower levels of disaggregation, additional factors affecting the data, such as enrolment policies (which contribute to different age/grade structures between states and territories), inter-sector transfer and interstate movements of students, have not been taken into account.

23 Particularly in small jurisdictions, relatively small changes in student numbers can create apparently large movements in retention rates. In addition, the rates in the smaller jurisdictions may be noticeably affected by changes in such factors as the proportion of ungraded and/or mature aged students from year to year. The inclusion or exclusion of part-time students can also have a significant effect on apparent retention rates, especially in SA, Tas. and the NT which have relatively large proportions of part-time students.


APPARENT CONTINUATION RATES

24 Apparent continuation rates (ACR's) are a measure of the proportion of a population age cohort participating in school education in a base year (eg 2008) expressed as a percentage of the same cohort that were participating in school education a year previously (2007).

25 When producing an ACR for the sum of an item, such as 'Persons' or 'Australia', weights have been introduced to allow for the different levels that each component item contributes to the total.

26 The interpretation of apparent continuation rates is also affected (to a lesser extent) by the same range of factors that are unaccounted for in the apparent retention rates series (see paragraphs 21 and 22).


APPARENT PROGRESSION RATES

27 Apparent progression rates (APR's) are a measure of the proportion of an age/grade cohort that move from one grade to the next grade between two school censuses.

28 The interpretation of apparent progression rates is also affected (to a lesser extent) by the same range of factors that are unaccounted for in the apparent retention rates series (see paragraphs 21 and 22).


FTE STUDENT/TEACHING STAFF RATIOS

29 FTE student/teaching staff ratios are calculated by dividing the number of FTE students by the number of FTE teaching staff. Student/teaching staff ratios should not be used as a measure of class size. They do not take account of teacher aides and other non-teaching staff who may also assist in the delivery of school education.


GENERAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT

30 This publication draws extensively on information provided freely by state and territory departments with responsibility for school education and the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). Their continued cooperation enables the ABS to publish a wide range of education statistics. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act, 1905.


DATA AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

31 As well as the statistics included in this publication, the ABS has more detailed statistics from the non-finance NSSC available. Data requests on an ad-hoc basis are available on application as charged fee for service. For further assistance regarding schools statistics, please contact Leo Stinson on (02) 6252 7793.


RELATED PUBLICATIONS AND PRODUCTS

32 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to users are:

  • Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0) - issued annually, latest issue May 2008 released on 26 November 2008.
  • Education and Training Experience, Australia (cat. no. 6278.0) - issued irregularly, latest issue 2005 released in May 2006.
  • Deriving Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education from the National Schools Statistics Collection (cat. no. 1351.0.55.016) - research paper, released in December 2006.

33 Additional information can be found in publications produced by ABS offices in each state and territory, various publications of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, the education chapter of the annual Report on Government Services, and in annual reports of the state and territory Departments of Education.

34 The National Centre for Education and Training Statistics (NCETS) has a theme page on the ABS web site for the dissemination of information on education and training:<URL:/http//www.abs.gov.au/ncets/>.

35 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site <URL:/http//www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.


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