1 This publication contains statistics of government and non-government schools, students and staff as at August 2006.
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 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 Since 1989, staff have been categorised in the collection according to their major function. This means that some staff who were previously included in teaching staff are now not included. Users are advised to be aware of this when comparing teaching staff figures published prior to 1989 with those for later years. Also, executive staff have been included in non-school staff since 1989.
8 Since 1990, students attending special schools have not been identified separately, and have been allocated to either the primary or secondary level of school education. From 1990, staff in special schools have also not been identified separately, and have been allocated to either the primary or secondary level of school education.
9 As a result of changed reporting methodology in 1995, non-government school staff who are not based at a particular school, but who are mainly active in schools, are now included in the published figures.
10 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 2006, this half cohort is in Year 4.
11 The WA Department of Education and Training 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 2006 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.
12 From 2003 to 2006 a trial of full-time Pre-year 1 education was undertaken in Qld prior to the expected implementation of full state coverage. In 2003, 833 students in 39 schools attended Pre-year 1, while in 2004, the trial had been expanded to 1,514 students in 67 schools. In 2006, 3,208 full-time students in 122 schools were included in the final year of the trial. These Pre-year 1 students are within the scope of the NSSC.
13 The census date for the collection, for all states and territories, is the first Friday in August each year. For 2006 this was 5 August. The age reference date was 1 July for all states and territories.
14 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 the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training (non-government series).
15 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.
16 The Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training 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
17 The ABS has published school education statistics for many years. However, prior to the implementation of the NSSC, the data were not necessarily comparable between states and territories. With the implementation of the NSSC concepts, the definitions, classifications and coverage were revised. The new government schools series was implemented in 1981 and the non-government schools series in 1984. Therefore, particular care should be exercised when comparing data in this publication with that prior to 1981 and 1984 for the government and non-government schools series respectively, and between the two series from 1981 to 1983. 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.
18 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.
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 20), the total number of full-time students in Year 12 in 2006 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 2001 and Year 8 in Qld, SA, WA and the NT in 2002 (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. In tables 21 and 22 the base year becomes Year 10 and the retention year remains at Year 12. In table 23 the base year is Year 7/8 but the retention years are Years 9, 10, 11 and 12.
21 Apparent retention rates can also be derived for all students (full-time plus part-time) using the same method as described in paragraph 20 above. The apparent retention rate of all secondary students (full-time plus part-time) in table 24 has a base year of Year 10 and a retention year of Year 12.
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. These and other factors affecting the interpretation of apparent retention rates have been addressed, where possible, in the ABS's review of apparent retention rates. Such quality concerns have been documented in Appendices in the Schools, Australia 2004 and 2005 publications.
23 The latest findings of the review were released in a 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.
24 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.
FTE STUDENT/TEACHING STAFF RATIOS
25 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.
26 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, Science and Training. 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
27 As well as the statistics included in this publication, the ABS has more detailed statistics from the non-finance NSSC available. These can be obtained from Data Cubes (in Excel spreadsheet format), at a later date, on the ABS web site at <http//www.abs.gov.au>. For further assistance regarding schools statistics, please contact Leo Stinson on (02) 6252 7793.
RELATED PUBLICATIONS AND PRODUCTS
28 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to users are:
29 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, Science and Training, 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.
- Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0) - issued annually, latest issue May 2006 released on 13 December 2006.
- Education and Training Indicators, Australia (cat. no. 4230.0) - issued irregularly, last released in December 2002 - this replaces Education and Training in Australia (cat. no. 4224.0) - last released in January 1999.
- 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.
30 The ABS Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) and the State Year Books also contain commentary and data on education. 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:</http//www.abs.gov.au/ncets/>.
31 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 </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.