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4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2013 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/02/2014   
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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 Data used in the compilation of these statistics 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 Australian Government Department of Education, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and the Standing Council for School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC).

3 In addition to statistics, Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0) contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Appendix and a Glossary that provide information on the data sources, counting rules, terminology, classifications and other aspects associated with these statistics. All 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).


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

4 The scope of 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 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 school education at those establishments.

6 Statistics for the non-government series relate to all in-scope establishments not administered by the state/territory departments of education.

7 Data for the non-government series are reported by schools through the Schools Service Point, which is managed by the Australian Government Department of Education to assist in administering the Schools Assistance Act 2008. This data is then collated by the Department and a subset is provided to the ABS for the National Schools Statistics Collection.

8 Education services in Jervis Bay Territory are provided by the Australian Capital Territory Education Directorate. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for Jervis Bay Territory are included with those for the Australian Capital Territory.

9 Education services in the Territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Territory of Christmas Island are provided by the Department of Education Western Australia. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for these Territories are included with those for Western Australia.

10 Education services in Norfolk Island are provided by the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for Norfolk Island are included with those for New South Wales.

11 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.

12 Part-time student data by age are only available from 2006 onwards.


CENSUS DATE

13 The census date for the collection, for all states and territories, and all affiliations, is the first Friday in August each year. For 2013 the census date was 2 August.


AGE REFERENCE DATE

14 The age reference date for students is 1 July.


DATA COMPARABILITY

15 Occasionally, jurisdictions make changes in the administration of their education system that can impact on the coherence of the statistics produced in this publication over time. The following paragraphs (in reverse chronological order), note the most significant changes of this nature.

16 In recent years, Tasmania has alternated between a single and multiple entity college structure. In the most recent change, from July 2013 the Tasmanian Polytechnic ceased to exist and was replaced by TasTAFE as the new single entity for Tasmania’s public sector post-compulsory vocational education and training. As a result of this change some Year 11 and 12 students previously studying at the Polytechnic are no longer within scope of the NSSC. This reversed the 2012 move which saw Tasmania reporting eight separate colleges in the NSSC rather than the one Tasmanian Academy (see also paragraph 28).

17 In 2012 the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development was 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.

18 In 2012 the Queensland Department of Education and Training noted continuing improvements in the response to identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status in government schools, along with a considerable reduction in the number of “not stated” responses. This may affect comparisons of students by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status with previous years.

19 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 the 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.

20 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.

21 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.

22 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 transition Year 7 formally 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.

23 In 2011, the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training developed procedures for strengthening the identification and classification of 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 students 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 which may affect comparisons of staff data with previous years.

24 From time to time, schools are amalgamated in different states and territories. 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. the merger of a primary and a secondary school to form a combined school means that the amalgamated school's enrolment size would be reported as a sum of the enrolments). Where amalgamations have occurred it may affect comparisons of school counts and characteristics with previous years. For more information on specific amalgamations in individual jurisdictions, please refer to the relevant state or territory department website.

25 In 2010 the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development implemented programs to improve the quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status reporting in government schools. This has resulted in a decrease of “not-stated” responses, and may affect comparisons of students by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status with previous years.

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

27 In 2010 the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development changed the prescribed minimum full-time load required to obtain the South Australian Certificate of Education (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.

28 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.

29 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.

30 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:

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

31 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.

32 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. The introduction also resulted in a significant difference in enrolments from 2012 to 2013 for Years 5 and 6 as the half-cohort moved to Year 6 in 2013.

33 In 2006 Western Australia raised the school leaving age to 16 years.

34 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.

35 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.

36 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 turn five by 30 June in the year they intend to commence Pre-year 1. This resulted in a cohort two-thirds of normal size entering the school system in 2002.


METHODOLOGY

37 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.

38 The Australian Government Department of Education 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.

39 In 2010 and 2011, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory provided student 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.

40 In 2012 and 2013, Tasmania provided unit record level data.


SCHOOLS OVER TIME

41 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

42 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 things such as 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.

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

44 There is no Australia-wide standard method of allocating students and classes to a particular 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 the relevant education authorities, but otherwise appear against the ungraded category in either the primary or secondary level of school education.

45 The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used in the calculation of some rates in this publication. It is used 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.

46 The ERP is a quarterly estimate of the population of Australia, based on data from the quinquennial ABS Census of Population and Housing, and is updated using information on births, deaths, and overseas and internal migration provided by state, territory and Australian government departments. For more information, see: ABS Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).


RATES USED IN THIS PUBLICATION

47 This publication contains a number of rates relating to the proportion of students proceeding through the school system. To produce an actual measurement of, for example, the proportion of students who progressed at the expected rate from one grade to the next over one year, analysis on the status of every student between years would be required to determine whether they progressed as expected, progressed but transferred to another jurisdiction or school of different affiliation, repeated or left school entirely. At present, conducting such analysis of all individuals through linking student enrolment information between different years and across jurisdictions is not able to be undertaken.

48 Instead, a methodology is used to calculate rates based on total reported cohort populations in a selected jurisdiction at a selected year either as a percentage of the total population (ERP) or as a percentage of the population for the cohort in an earlier year. For example in NSW in 2011, there were 45,262 students aged 15 and ERP indicated there were 46,358 persons aged 15. In 2012, in NSW there were 41,195 students aged 16 and ERP indicated there were 46,741 persons aged 16. This equates to an Apparent Continuation Rate (ACR) of 100*(41,195/46,741)/(45,262/46,358) or 90.3%. Rates calculated by this methodology are known as 'apparent' rates. Accordingly, the term 'apparent' is used to refer to all rates in the publication where they are not the 'actual' rate that would result from direct measurement.

49 There are a number of reasons why apparent rates may generate results that differ from actual rates. These reasons include, but are not limited to:
  • 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)
  • students who attend school in a state/territory different to that in which they live
  • a different reference period used in calculating ERP (30 June) verses that used as the reference in the school system (1 August)
  • the children of diplomats, short term international exchange students and possible other anomalies, where students are counted in one statistic (school attendance) but not in another (ERP), and
  • other sources of inconsistency between data sources that may lead to non-sampling error.

50 Other factors that may affect comparability of rates are:
  • the availability of alternative education and training pathways such as vocational education and training, and
  • the minimum workload for a full-time student that would ensure that the student could complete a given grade in a year.

51 It's also important to note data comparability issues can be significant when rates utilise data from composite sources. For example an ACR will use a numerator from the National Schools Statistics Collection and a denominator of Estimated Resident Population (an aggregate derived data series compiled from the Census of Population and Housing, the Census Post Enumeration Survey and administrative data to measure components of population change over time). When developing an indicator using data from different sources, significant data comparability issues can emerge that will affect the accuracy of the indicator. In many cases these differences can have apparently implausible or unexpected effects - for example producing an estimate significantly greater than 100% of the population with a particular attribute (such as the number of students of a specific age continuing to the next year of school). These effects are particularly apparent where a cohort is small and the phenomena being measured applies to close to 100% of the population.

52 The formulae and methodology used for the calculation of School Participation Rates, Apparent Continuation Rates and Apparent Progression Rates 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.


APPARENT RETENTION RATE (ARR)

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

54 The grade of commencement of secondary school varies across 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 from which the rate is calculated. These variations are incorporated into the calculation of rates at the Australia level. For more information, see: Data Comparability section.

55 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 to 9 in 2010
  • Years 7/8 to 10 in 2011
  • Years 7/8 to 11 in 2012
  • Years 7/8 to 12 in 2013

56 In small populations, relatively small changes in student numbers can create large movements in apparent retention rates. These populations might include smaller jurisdictions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and subcategories of the non-government affiliation. Changes in such factors outlined in paragraph 49 may be more noticeable in these populations.


APPARENT CONTINUATION RATE (ACR)

57 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.

58 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.

59 For example, an ACR at the Australia level 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.

60 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.

61 Unlike the ARR, the ACR is not able to provide breakdowns by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, or affiliation. For more information, see: Appendix 3: Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education, 2009 (cat. no. 4221.0).


APPARENT PROGRESSION RATE (APR)

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

63 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.

64 For example, an APR at the Australia level 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.

65 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status or affiliation. For more information, see: Appendix 3: Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education, 2009 (cat. no. 4221.0).


SCHOOL PARTICIPATION RATE (SPR)

66 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 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 ACT schools who are not usual residents of the ACT, 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 ACT rates than the NSW rates. This is referred to as cross-border enrolment.

67 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.

68 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 aggregate 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. As previously noted, NSSC counts may also include students not counted in ERP, such as the children of foreign diplomats.


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

69 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

70 The Schools, Australia, Preliminary publication (cat. no. 4220.0) was discontinued in 2010.

71 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to Schools, Australia readers are:
72 Additional information can be found in publications produced by ABS offices in each state and territory including the Census of Population and Housing, various publications of the Australian Government Department of Education, the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC), the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the education chapter of the annual Report on Government Services (RoGS), and reports of national partnerships and agreements under the Council of Australian Governments such as the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA). Information is also available 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.

73 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

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

75 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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