5900.0.00.001 - School output measures in the Australian National Accounts: experimental estimates, 2007-08 to 2017-18  
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Nirmala Narayan (Economic Statistics Research Section)1 2


This paper describes new experimental indexes for the volume of output of Australian schools.

The output of school education services in Australia is substantial. In 2016/17, educational services provided by schools (primary, secondary, pre-schools and special needs education) contributed 52% of education industry output.3 The vast majority of this output was produced by primary and secondary schools, which constitute the scope of the ‘school education’ services in this paper. The total number of enrolments in school education (primary and secondary) was 3.9 million in 2018, with 65.7% of students enrolled in public schools.4

The ABS currently estimates the volume of school activity by weighting together changes in Full Time Equivalent (FTE) student numbers for preschools, primary, secondary and special schools sourced from Schools, Australia (ABS Cat.no. 4221.0). The weights are derived from Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables (ABS Cat.no. 5209.0.55.001) and are updated periodically.

The new experimental method offers two enhancements to this approach. First, the weights were derived from directly observed data, which can be updated annually and applied directly to enrolments data to implicitly capture some aspects of quality variation and change. Second, the calculation of volume measures has been undertaken at a lower level of disaggregation than is currently used in the National Accounts. This enables the production of estimates for public and private schools, and schools in different states and territories. These enhancements have the potential to materially improve the output volumes and current price estimates for education statistics in the National Accounts.

The experimental indexes in this paper are based on a range of datasets, including data from the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA).5 ABS data is also used, including data from: Schools, Australia (ABS Cat. no. 4221.0); unpublished data relating to Government Finance Statistics, Australia (ABS Cat. no. 5512.0) and data from the Economic Activity Survey (EAS) which is published as part of Australian Industry (ABS Cat. no. 8155.0) estimates.

The ABS invites feedback on the experimental methods proposed in this paper. For further discussion of these methods please contact the ABS at economic.research@abs.gov.au.


1 I am extremely grateful to Kristen Stone, Jason Annabel, the Education and Training, Annual Industry Statistics, and Government Finance sections, and the National Accounts team within the ABS for their ready guidance, support and cooperation.
2 The experimental indexes proposed in this paper would not have been possible without the data and assistance provided by Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority - ACARA. The author thanks them for this assistance.
3 These estimates are contained in Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables (Product Details), 5215.0.55.001
4 Schools Australia publication 4221.0
5 https://www.acara.edu.au/reporting/national-report-on-schooling-in-australia/national-report-on-schooling-in-australia-data-portal

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