1338.1 - NSW State and Regional Indicators, Dec 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/01/2011  Final
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Data cubes with detailed statistics are available on the Downloads page.


Educational opportunities and attainment contribute positively to employment and community outcomes. Education is received through three formal sectors - schooling, vocational education and training, and higher education. Non-formal education also takes place outside of these institutions and is a life-long process; for example, on-the-job training in the workplace and self-directed learning.


There were 1.1 million full-time school students in NSW in 2009. Of those, 56% (or 619,000 persons) were primary school students, and the remaining 44% (492,000 persons) were secondary school students. Of all full-time students in NSW, 375,000 (or 34%) were in non-government schools. The actual number of full-time students in non-government schools does not differ significantly between Primary and Secondary schools, however, students in non-government schools make up a larger proportion of all students in Secondary schools than Primary schools (38% versus 30%) due to there being less students overall in Secondary schools. The overall apparent retention rate of all full-time students from year 7 to year 12 was 71%. The retention rate was higher amongst females (77%) than males (66%), and amongst non-government students (80%) compared to government students (66%).

FULL-TIME SCHOOL STUDENTS, By grade and school type – NSW 2009
Graph: FULL-TIME SCHOOL STUDENTS, By grade and school type – NSW 2009

Generally, Local Government Areas (LGAs) with a large number of usually resident 5-19 year-olds (the closest approximation of school ages for which figures are available from Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 3235.0)) also had a large number of full-time equivalent (FTE) enrolments for both government and non-government schools. For example, Blacktown had the largest Estimated Resident Population (ERP) of 5-19year olds (68,000 persons) and also had the largest number of FTE enrolments (54,000). However some LGAs had more FTE students than the usually resident population of 5-19 year olds, indicating that students were travelling to schools outside of their home LGA. Some examples of these LGAs were North Sydney with a ratio of 2.35 FTE enrolments for every usually resident 5-19 year old, Hunters Hill (ratio of 1.41) , Burwood (ratio of 1.41) and Marrickville (ratio of 1.24). Some rural LGAs also had very low ratios of FTE enrolments compared to their ERP, such as Conargo (ratio of 0.22) and Jerilderie (ratio of 0.24), indicating residents were leaving their home area to go to school.


Of the 1.1 million full time students in NSW in 2009, 4.2% (46,500 persons) identified as Indigenous. Whilst the majority of full-time Indigenous students (87%) are enrolled in Government schools, the number of Indigenous full-time students enrolled in non-government schools has increased 9.6% since 2008 (although given the comparatively low enrolments, this only equates to an extra 500 Indigenous students). The apparent retention rate of Indigenous students from year 7 to year 12 was 37%, compared with 73% for non-Indigenous students. The apparent retention rate for Indigenous students from year 7 to 10 is much higher, at 88% (versus 98% for non-Indigenous students).

LGAs in NSW with a high proportion of FTE Indigenous students enrolled in government schools were Brewarrina (96%), Central Darling (74%) and Coonamble (60%) while the highest proportion of FTE Indigenous enrolments in non-government schools were found in Bourke and Walgett (both 54%).


Since 2008, all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 have sat national literacy and numeracy tests every year (prior to this each state had a set of tests that were equivalised to national standards). There are five separate tests covering four domains of literacy (reading; writing; grammar and punctuation; and spelling) and a numeracy test. The tests are designed so that scores are directly comparable across time. Scores are divided into 10 bands that represent increasing levels of achievement. Students are deemed to be either above, at or below the national minimum standard based on which band their test scores fall into. The band which represents the minimum standard is higher in each grade to reflect greater expectations in performance as students progress through schooling. NSW generally has high participation rates in the tests, for example, in 2008 and 2009 the participation rate for students in years 3, 5 and 7 was between 97%-98%, which tails off slightly to between 94%-95% in year 9. Although, it should be noted that it will be several more years before any comprehensive analysis of trends in the data can be done.

One of the benefits of the standardised testing is that it can highlight groups or areas which are not performing as well as others. For example, in NSW, across all grades and domains, a greater proportion of Indigenous students were below the national minimum standard than non-Indigenous students.


Graph: STUDENTS PERFORMING BELOW THE NATIONAL MINIMUM STANDARD(a), By grade and selected characteristics, NSW 2009

Preliminary results for 2010 in NSW indicated that in most cases, the mean scores for students in 2010 were not significantly different from those achieved in 2008 or 2009. The exceptions to this were: the Year 3 mean score for reading (significantly higher in 2010 than in 2008); the Year 3 mean score for writing (significantly higher in 2010 than in 2009); the Year 3 mean score for spelling (significantly lower in 2010 than 2009); and the Year 5 mean score for numeracy (significantly higher in 2010 than 2008).

Testing can also highlight students achieving well in excess of the minimum standard. One of the NSW State Plan measures is to increase the percentage of students in the top two performing bands across all grades and tests. In 2010, 48% of all Year 3 students achieved results in the top two bands for reading as did 36% of students for numeracy. For Year 7 students the percentages were 32% for reading and 31% for numeracy.

STUDENTS PERFORMING IN THE TOP TWO BANDS(a), By selected characteristics, NSW
Graph: STUDENTS PERFORMING IN THE TOP TWO BANDS(a), By selected characteristics, NSW


According to the 2009 Survey of Education and Work, 13% more persons aged 15-24 years are participating in education at a higher education institution than in the previous year. Overall, 62% of persons aged 15-24 years are enrolled in an educational institution (including schools). Of those not participating in education, 75% were employed and a further 13% were unemployed (the remaining 12% were not in the labour force). The proportion of unemployed 15-24 year olds (13%) was higher than in 2008 (9%).

In 2009 over half of all persons in NSW aged 15-64 years (57%) held a non-school qualification and a further 21% had completed either Year 11 or 12. As at May 2009, over 1.1 million people (25% of 15-64 year olds) in NSW held a Bachelor's degree or higher qualification and a further 700,000 (15%of 15-64 year olds) held a Certificate III or IV qualification.

In 2008, 333,000 persons were enrolled in universities in NSW of whom 77,000, or almost one-quarter (23%), were overseas students. Over one-quarter of domestic students (26%) were enrolled in post-graduate courses, compared to 40% of overseas students. Over half (52%) of all overseas students were enrolled in a course related to management and commerce, compared with 23% of domestic students. The most popular field of study for domestic students was society and culture (29% of enrolments) which was also the second most popular (9% of enrolments) for overseas students. These percentages are broadly similar to those found in 2004.

HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS, By field of study and student type(a), NSW — 2008
Graph: HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS, By field of study and student type(a), NSW — 2008


In the year ending December 2009, 85,000 students commenced training as an apprentice or trainee in NSW. Of these commencements, 25% were in the occupational field of study of Clerical and administrative workers and a further 23% were in the field of Technicians and trade workers. Students in these fields of study also made up 18% and 38% respectively of students still in training as at December 2009 (139,000 persons in total), and 24% and 26% respectively of completions (48,300 persons in total) during 2009.

There were over half a million (550,000) Vocational Education and Training (VET) students in 2009, representing a similar number to previous years. The large majority (86%) of VET students undertook their study part-time. The most popular field of education for VET students was Management and commerce (22% of students) and Engineering and related technologies (13%). Just over one-half (54%) of VET students were aged 25 years or over.

Data cubes with detailed statistics are available on the Downloads page.


ABS Survey of Education and Work

Adult Learning, Australia (cat. no. 4229.0)

Adult Literacy and Life Skills (cat. no. 4228.0)

Childhood Education and Care, Australia (cat. no. 4402.0)

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; Students, Selected Higher Education Statistics.

MCEECDYA; National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy - Achievement in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy

National Centre for Vocational Educational Research Ltd.; National VET Provider Collection

National Centre for Vocational Educational Research Ltd.; Apprentices and Trainee Collection

National Indigenous Preschool Census; National Preschool Census

NSW Department of Education and Training; Government Schools Census

Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 3235.0)

Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0)