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4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2012 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/02/2013   
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Re-issue: Clause 17 has been amended to clarify circumstances regarding Year 7 in Western Australia and Queensland.

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 National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) (non-finance), 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 Standing Council for School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC).

    3. Schools, Australia contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Appendices and a Glossary that provide information on the data sources, counting rules, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics. All aggregate data are collected and reported to standard classifications as stated in the NSSC Data Collection Manual (DCM) and NSSC Notes, Instructions and Tabulations (NIT) manual (both available from the ABS on request). All unit record level data are collected and reported to classifications which align with those used for aggregate data.


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 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.
    7. Data for the non-government series are reported by schools through the Schools Service Point, which is managed by DEEWR to assist in administering the Schools Assistance Act 2008. This data is then collated by DEEWR and a subset is provided to the ABS for the NSSC.
    8. Education services in Jervis Bay Territory are provided by the Australian Capital Territory Education Directorate, through Australian government funding. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for Jervis Bay Territory are included with those for the Australian Capital Territory.
    9. 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.
    10. Part-time student data by age is only available from 2006 onwards.

DATA COMPARABILITY

11. In 2012 the Tasmanian Department of Education returned to reporting eight separate colleges in the NSSC rather than the one Tasmanian Academy (see also para. 22).

    12. In 2012 the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development continued programs, first implemented in 2010, to improve the quality of Indigenous status reporting in government schools. This has resulted in a decrease of “not-stated” responses, and may affect comparisons of students by Indigenous status with previous years. The Department was also able to pro-rate the full-time equivalent (FTE) staff working at combined schools, or at more than one school, at the school level, rather than at the state level as was previously done. This resulted in a more accurate apportionment of staff FTE.

    13. In 2012 the Queensland Department of Education and Training noted continuing improvements in the response to identification of Indigenous status in government schools, and that there has been a considerable reduction in the number of “not stated” responses. This may affect comparisons of students by Indigenous status with previous years.

    14. From 2011 onwards, the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development has identified and removed re-entry students from the government NSSC counts. These students were undertaking Year 11 and 12 subjects, but were not completing Year 12 certification South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). The profile of these students was typically part-time and mature age. This may affect comparisons of total students and students by age and attendance status with previous years.

    15. In 2011 the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development changed the measure of a student’s workload. The workload for Year 11 and 12 students is now measured in hours where previously it was measured by the number of SACE subjects being studied. This may affect comparisons of full-time equivalent values and breakdowns of full-time and part-time students with previous years.

    16. In 2011 the Western Australian Department of Education introduced a new system for managing administrative data that has improved data quality for identifying and resolving potential administrative counting errors. This may affect comparisons with previous years.

    17. In Western Australia and Queensland, Year 7 is being piloted in some secondary schools, commencing in 2011 for Western Australia, and in 2012 for Queensland. The ABS has been advised that, for reporting purposes, Year 7 will remain at the primary level for all schools until such time as the respective states decide whether to formally transition Year 7 to the secondary level. As students may commence non-government schooling in the first Year of secondary school, this may affect comparisons between students in primary and secondary levels of education in Western Australia from 2011 onwards, and in Queensland from 2012 onwards.

    18. In 2011, the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training resolved an issue identifying part-time students. The result was a slight increase in the 2011 part-time student count, similar to the levels in 2009 and earlier. This may affect comparisons of part-time from 2010 with other years. The Department was also better able to identify and remove staff working in the early childhood sector from NSSC counts of staff for government data. This may affect comparisons of staff data with previous years.

    19. A number of states and territories have on-going programs which may result in school amalgamations. Through these amalgamations, two or more schools merge to make one school. In this scenario the amalgamation would cause a reduction in the school counts collected in the NSSC. It may also result in a changed profile of school characteristics (e.g. if a primary and a secondary school amalgamated two schools would become one and it would be reported as a combined school, an amalgamated school’s enrolment size would be reported as the sum of the enrolments). Where amalgamations have occurred it may affect comparisons of schools counts and characteristics with previous years. For more information on specific programs on management of schools please refer to the relevant state or territory department website.

    20. In 2010 a number of part-time, mature-age, ungraded secondary students in government schools in Western Australia were deemed to be in-scope, after having been out of scope for 2009, and in-scope for 2008. This may affect comparisons involving these students for these years.

    21. In 2010 the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development changed the prescribed minimum full-time load required to obtain the SACE. These changes were introduced to Stage 1 (Year 11) in 2010, and introduced to Stage 2 (Year 12) in 2011. This may affect comparisons of full-time and part-time student breakdowns with previous years.

    22. In 2009 Tasmanian education underwent a significant restructure of post-Year 10 education, creating two new statutory authorities, the Tasmanian Academy and the Tasmanian Polytechnic, from the merger of state government colleges (Years 11 and 12) and TAFE Tasmania. Students attending former in-scope campuses of the new Tasmanian Academy and the Polytechnic were combined with Tasmanian Department of Education data for the NSSC.

    23. In 2009 improvements were made to the student enrolment data collection process for government schools in the Northern Territory. This enabled better identification of duplicate student records, which were then removed. This change will affect comparisons of all data showing numbers of students for the Northern Territory and Australia with previous years.

    24. 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. This change affects comparisons of student numbers by grade and school level in 2008 with those for earlier years. 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
        7/8 to 12 in 2013.

    25. 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 these changes affect comparisons with previous years.

    26. In 2007 Queensland introduced a formal Pre-year 1 (Preparatory). In that year, around two-thirds of the expected cohort was enrolled. In 2008, 95% of the expected cohort was enrolled in Pre-year 1.

    27. In 2006 Western Australia raised the school leaving age to 16. This may affect comparisons of measures of secondary engagement post 2006 with earlier years.

    28. 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 part of 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.

    29. 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.

    30. In 2002 Western Australia changed the age at which children may commence Pre-year 1. Prior to 2002, students could commence Pre-year 1 if they were turning five at any time during the year. From 2002, children must be turning five by 30 June in the year they intended to commence Pre-year 1. This resulted in a two-thirds cohort entering the school system in 2002. In 2012 this cohort is in Year 10.


    CENSUS DATE

    31. The census date for the collection, for all states and territories, and all affiliations, is the first Friday in August each year. For 2012 the census date was 3 August.


    AGE REFERENCE DATE

    32. The age reference date for students is 1 July of the collection year.


    METHODOLOGY

    33. 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.

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

    35. In 2010 and 2011, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory provided unit record level data for these statistics. This followed studies conducted by the ABS demonstrating 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.

    36. In 2012, Tasmania provided unit record level data.

    SCHOOLS OVER TIME

    37. The number of schools in a particular year may vary due to administrative changes which alter the composition of schools. For example, 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 of the establishment. Each scenario may affect the number of schools reported year to year.


    INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS

    38. When interpreting the figures in this publication, users should be aware that the comparability of statistics between states and territories, and between government and non-government schools in any one state or territory, may be 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.

    39. Relatively small changes in the absolute numbers of a population can create large movements in rates and ratios. These populations might include smaller jurisdictions, Indigenous students, and subcategories of the non-government affiliation and cross tabulated characteristics.

    40. 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. Where possible, students at these schools have been allocated to equivalent grades by relevant education authorities, but otherwise appear against the ungraded category in either the primary or secondary level of school education.

    41. The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used in the calculation of some measures of secondary engagement in this publication. It is used to attempt to account for movements in population, such as migration. Where ERP is used it is used as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the population.

    42. 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 Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2012 (cat. no. 3101.0) for further details.


    APPARENT RETENTION RATE (ARR)

    43. This provides an indicative measure of the number of school students who have stayed in school, as at a designated year and Year of education. It is expressed as a percentage of the respective cohort group against the cohort that those students would be expected to have come from, assuming an expected rate of progression of one grade a year.

    44. The grade of commencement of secondary school varies between states and territories and over time. Rates that use the grade of commencement of secondary school as the base grade may use a different base grade for each state and territory, depending on the schooling structure in each state and territory. These data are comparable as the cohorts are retrospective to the grade and year the rate is calculated from. These variations are incorporated into calculation of rates at the Australia level. See Data Comparability for more information.

    45. In 2008, the structure of schooling in the Northern Territory changed with Year 7 becoming the first year of secondary schooling, whereas previously it was Year 8. As the first grade of secondary education is used as the base for the calculation of Apparent Retention Rates (ARRs), Year 8 is the base for the cohort commencing secondary school in 2008. For cohorts commencing secondary school post 2008, Year 7 is the base. This may affect comparisons with previous rates. Year 7 is the base for ARRS for:


      Years 7/8-9 in 2010

      Years 7/8-10 in 2011

      Years 7/8-11 in 2012.


    46. Although apparent retention rates allow comparisons 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 progressing at a faster or slower than expected rate of one grade a year

      students 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).


    47. Other factors that may affect comparability of rates are:

      the availability of alternative education and training pathways vocational education and training

      the minimum workload for a full-time student that would ensure that the student could complete a given grade in a year.


    48. In small populations, relatively small changes in student numbers can create 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)

    49. This is a measure of the number of school students of a particular age expressed as a proportion of the ERP of the same age. It indicates the proportion of the population by age who are at school. In some jurisdictions, such as the Australian Capital Territory, some rates exceed 100%. This is mainly due to the enrolment of students in Australian Capital Territory schools who are not residents of the Australian Capital Territory, but who live in surrounding New South Wales regions. As a result of the relative sizes of the populations this has a larger effect on the Australian Capital Territory rates then the New South Wales rates. This is referred to as cross-border enrolment.

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

    51. Non-participation in school education is not calculated for inclusion into this publication as it cannot be accurately calculated by the difference between NSSC student counts and ERP, as 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)

    52. This is a measure of the proportion of an age group of students (full-time and part-time) who have continued from one calendar 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.

    53. 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.

    54. 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.

    55. 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.

    56. 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, 2009 (cat. no. 4221.0).


    APPARENT PROGRESSION RATE (APR)

    57. 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.

    58. 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.

    59. 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.

    60. The APR is adjusted to factor in changes in the population. Other factors unaccounted for in the ARR similarly affect the APR. Unlike the ARR, the APR cannot provide breakdowns by Indigenous status or affiliation. For more information See, Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education, 2009 (cat. no. 4221.0).
      CALCULATIONS

      61. 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

      62. FTE student/teaching staff ratios are calculated by dividing the FTE student figure by the FTE teaching staff figure. 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

      63. Note that in 2010, the Schools, Australia, Preliminary publication (cat. no. 4220.0) was discontinued.

      64. Other ABS publications which may be of interest to Schools, Australia users are: 65. Additional information can be found in publications produced by ABS offices in each state and territory, various publications of DEEWR, Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA), Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, the education chapter of the annual Report on Government Services (RoGS), in annual reports of the various state and territory departments of education, and in annual reports of the various non-government affiliated offices or licensing authorities.

      66. Education & Training has a theme page on the ABS web site for the dissemination of information: <http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/c311215.nsf/web/Education+and+Training>.

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

      68. 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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