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4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/02/2011   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication contains statistics on students, schools, and staff involved in the provision or administration of primary and secondary education, in government and non-government schools, for all Australian states and territories.

2 These data are sourced from the (non-finance) National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC), which is a joint undertaking of the various state and territory departments of education, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA).

3 The scope of the collection is bound by the definitions of students, schools and staff outlined in the ABS Notes, Instructions and Tabulations (NIT) document which is available on request. See also the Glossary of this publication.


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

4 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. The statistics in this publication do not include establishments, students or staff engaged in school level education conducted by other institutions, in particular Technical and Further Education (TAFE) establishments.

5 Statistics for the government series relate to all establishments administered by the departments of education under the directors-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.

6 Statistics for the non-government series relate to all in-scope establishments not administered by the departments of education in the states and territories.

7 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 Australian Capital Territory.

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


DATA COMPARABILITY

9 In 2010, Victoria implemented programs to increase identification of the Indigenous status of students and decrease the use of not-stated Indigenous status. This may affect comparisons of students by Indigenous status from 2010 to previous years.

10 In 2010, South Australia revised the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) which changed the prescribed minimum full-time load from previous years. In 2010 the revised SACE was introduced to Stage 1 (Year 11) and will be introduced at Stage 2 (Year 12) in 2011. This may affect comparisons of full-time and part-time student breakdowns with previous years.

11 In 2009, Tasmanian education underwent a significant restructure of education post-year 10. This reform, entitled Tasmania Tomorrow, created three new statutory organisations (the Tasmanian Academy, the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Skills Institute) from the merger of state government colleges (years 11 and 12) and TAFE Tasmania. As a result, in 2009 four of Tasmania's eight government colleges, along with TAFE Tasmania, were restructured and brought under the authority of the Tasmanian Academy and the Tasmanian Polytechnic. The four remaining colleges continued under the authority of the Tasmanian Department of Education (TDE) and will transition to the new structure by 2012. Census data from the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Academy were combined with TDE data to provide the NSSC submission for Tasmanian government schools. TDE undertook a process of data collection, cleaning, reconciliation and application of scope to ensure that the data provided to the NSSC fully complied with collection definitions.

12 In 2008 year 7 became the first year of secondary education in the Northern Territory where previously it was the last year of primary education. Changes will affect comparisons with of student numbers by grade and school level from 2008 to years prior to 2008. This will also affect the calculation of apparent retention rates. The base year level for calculating the apparent retention rate will use year 7 instead of year 8 for the first time for apparent retention rates:

  • 7/8 to 9 in 2010;
  • 7/8 to 10 in 2011;
  • 7/8 to 11 in 2012; and
  • 7/8 to 12 in 2013.

13 In 2008 the school leaving age in Western Australia was raised from 16 years to 17 years, unless the person was in alternative training or in approved employment. Care should be taken when drawing on numbers for student data as the changes will affect comparisons with previous years.

14 In 2007, following four years of trials in a small sample of schools, a formal Pre-year 1 (Preparatory) was introduced in Queensland. In 2008, 95% of the expected cohort was enrolled in Pre-year 1. In 2007, the first year of the new system, only around two thirds of the expected cohort were enrolled. In 2010 the two thirds cohort is in Year 3.

15 In 2006 the school leaving age in Western Australia was raised to 16. This may affect comparisons of measures of secondary engagement post 2006 with years prior to 2006.

16 In 2003 the majority of students in a small number of Western Australian colleges fell out-of-scope of the NSSC and were reclassified as belonging to the vocational education and training sector. The removal of these students in 2003 may affect comparisons of breakdowns of students by grade and apparent retention rates with previous years.

17 In 2002 Pre-year 1 in Western Australia was extended to five days a week bringing these students within the scope of the NSSC. This may affect comparisons of Pre-year 1 students and total numbers of students with previous years.

18 In 2002 the age at which children may commence Pre-year 1 was changed in Western Australia. From 2002 children must be turning five by 30 June in the year they intended to commence Pre-year 1. Prior to 2002 students could commence Pre-year 1 if they were turning five at any time in the year they intended to commence Pre-year 1.This resulted in a two thirds cohort entering the school system in 2002. In 2010 this cohort is in Year 8.

19 In 1993 changes in the admissions policy for Tasmanian schools resulted in an upward change in the age profile of students commencing school in that year relative to years prior to 1993. The change in age profile commencing school has continued in all subsequent years since. 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

20 The census date for the collection, for all states and territories, and all affiliations, is the first Friday in August each year. For 2010 the census data was 6 August.


AGE REFERENCE DATE

21 The age reference date is 1 July for all in-scope students.


METHODOLOGY

22 These statistics are compiled from collections conducted in cooperation with the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA), by state and territory departments of education (government series), and by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) (non-government series).

23 The methodologies employed in compiling the government sector data vary between the different state and territory departments of education. Data may be accessed from central administrative records or collected directly from education establishments.

24 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.

25 In 2010 Tasmania and Australia Capital Territory provided unit record level data for these statistics. This followed studies conducted by the ABS that demonstrated that no break in series would occur by using unit record level data. The collection methods for the relevant departments were similar to those used for their aggregate submissions in previous years.


SCHOOLS OVER TIME

26 The number of schools in a particular year may vary due to decisions affecting structural changes in the composition of schooling. A number of schools of the same level may amalgamate into a multi-campus school, for example primary schools and secondary schools may merge to create Pre-year 1 to 12 schools, secondary schools may split to create middle schools and senior secondary schools, or schools may fall in or out of scope based on changes in the major activity at the establishment. Each scenario may affect the number of schools reported year to year.


INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS

27 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.

28 Additionally, relatively small populations in some states and territories or at certain dissaggregations can promote apparently large movements in rates and ratios, which may be based on relatively small movements in absolute numbers. This may be particularly true for Indigenous student data.

29 There is no Australia-wide standard method of allocating students and classes to a certain year or grade of school education. 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.

30 The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used in the calculation of some measures of secondary engagement in this publication. It is used as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the population. The ERP is an estimate of the population of Australia, based on data from the quinquennial ABS Census of Population and Housing, and is updated annually using information on births, deaths and internal migration provided by state and federal government departments. See ABS Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories (cat. no. 3201.0) for further details.


APPARENT RETENTION RATE (ARR)

31 This is a measure of the number of school students in a designated year of education expressed as a percentage of their respective cohort group in a base year. In this publication, the base year is the commencement of secondary school and rates have been calculated for those who continued to Years 9, 10, 11 and 12.The base year, or year of commencement, varies between jurisdictions (states and territories), and over time. These variations are incorporated into calculation of ARRs at the Australia level. See Data Comparability for more information.

32 In 2008 Northern Territory changed the structure of schooling and the commencement of secondary schooling was changed from year 8 to year 7. In 2008 the cohort entering year 8 were entering their first year of secondary education, despite it being the second year of secondary education in the new system. For the purposes of calculating the retention rates, the first year of secondary study for a cohort is taken as the base year. This means that for the 2009 year 7/8 to 9 apparent retention rates that year 8 is the base year. The 2010 apparent retention rates for year 7/8 to 9 is the first year that the base cohort for apparent retention rates will change to year 7 in the NT. This may affect comparisons with previous rates.

33 Although apparent retention rates allow comparisons of retention by affiliation and indigenous status, 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 including students:
  • repeating a year of education;
  • changing between full-time or part-time study;
  • migration (interstate/international);
  • inter-sector (affiliation) transfer;
  • enrolment policies (which contribute to different age/grade structures between states and territories); and
  • alternative pathways not in scope for the collection, such as vocational education training.

34 Particularly in small populations, relatively small changes in student numbers can create apparently large movements in apparent retention rates. These populations might include smaller jurisdictions, Indigenous students, and subcategories of the non-government affiliation. Changes in such factors outlined in the previous paragraph may be more noticeable in these populations.


SCHOOL PARTICIPATION RATE (SPR)

35 This is a measure of the number of school students of a particular age expressed as a proportion of the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) of the same age. It indicates the proportion of the population by age (as at June 30) who are at school.

36 In some jurisdictions, such as the Australian Capital Territory, some rates exceed 100%. This is mainly due to the enrolment of students in ACT schools who are not residents of the ACT, but live in surrounding New South Wales regions. Because of the relative sizes of the populations this has a larger effect on the ACT rates then the NSW rates. This is referred to as cross-border enrolments.

37 There are some students from overseas who enter Australia on a short-term visa (less than 12 months) and are not considered Australian residents for ERP, although they are counted in the NSSC. The effect of these students is likely to be negligible.

38 Non-participation in school education cannot be accurately calculated by the difference between NSSC student counts and ERP, expressed as a percentage. ERP data is an estimate only. In addition ERP data 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.


APPARENT CONTINUATION RATE (ACR)

39 This is a measure of the proportion of an age group of students (full-time and part-time) that have continued from one year to the next. It can be expressed as the school participation rate of a population age cohort in one year as a percentage of the school participation rate of the same population age cohort in the previous year.

40 In calculating the ACR for the sum of a variable (such as 'sex' or 'jurisdiction'), weights have been introduced to allow for the different proportions that each component item contributes to the total.

41 For example, an ACR for 'Australia' is produced by weighting the proportion of students in each state/territory in the overall composition of 'Australia'. If students in jurisdiction X comprise 24% of all students in Australia in a given cohort, and students in jurisdiction Y comprise 2.4% of the same cohort, then the ACR of jurisdiction X students will be weighted 10 times more heavily than the ACR of jurisdiction Y students when it comes to averaging each jurisdiction's ACR to calculate the 'Australia' total.

42 The ACR includes both full-time and part-time students, and is adjusted to factor for changes in the population. Other factors unaccounted for in the ARR similarly affect the ACR.

43 Unlike the ARR, the ACR is not able to provide breakdowns by Indigenous status or Affiliation. For more information See, Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education (cat. no. 4221.0).


APPARENT PROGRESSION RATE (APR)

44 This is a measure of the proportion of a cohort of full-time students that moves from one grade to the next grade at an expected rate of one grade per year.

45 In calculating the APR for the sum of a variable (such as 'sex' or 'jurisdiction'), weights have been introduced to allow for the different proportions that each component item contributes to the total.

46 For example, an APR for 'Australia' is produced by weighting the proportion of students in each state/territory in the overall composition of 'Australia'. If students in jurisdiction X comprise 24% of all students in Australia in a given cohort, and students in jurisdiction Y comprise 2.4% of the same cohort, then the APR of jurisdiction X students will be weighted 10 times more heavily than the APR of jurisdiction Y students when it comes to averaging each jurisdiction's APR to calculate the 'Australia' total.

47 The APR is adjusted to factor for changes in the population. Other factors unaccounted for in the ARR similarly affect the APR. Unlike the ARR, the APR is not able to provide breakdowns by Indigenous status or Affiliation. For more information See, Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education (cat. no. 4221.0) .


CALCULATIONS

48 The formulae used for the calculation of School Participation Rates, Apparent Continuation Rates and Apparent Progression Rates (labelled Apparent Grade Progression Rates in the paper) are available in the Research Paper: Deriving Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education from the National Schools Statistics Collection (cat. no. 1351.0.55.016) published in December 2006.


FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT (FTE) STUDENT/TEACHING STAFF RATIOS

49 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 are an indicator of the level of staffing resources used and 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.


RELATED PUBLICATIONS AND PRODUCTS

50 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to users are:
51 Additional information can be found in publications produced by ABS offices in each state and territory, various publications of DEEWR, MCEECDYA, ACARA, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, the education chapter of the annual Report on Government Services, in annual reports of the various state and territory departments of education, and in annual reports of the various non-government affiliated offices or licencing authorities.

52 Education & Training has a theme page on the ABS web site for the dissemination of information: <http://www.abs.gov.au/ncets>.

53 Statistics available through the ABS are listed on the website at <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/webpages/statistics?opendocument>.

54 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which outlines upcoming releases <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/webpages/ABS+Release+Advice>.


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