4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2014 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/02/2015   
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This national collection was established between 1980 and 1984 through the work of the former Australian Education Council, superseding individual state and territory based schools collections conducted by the ABS. Oversight of the collection now rests with the Education Council, which in 2013 replaced the Standing Council for School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC).

For information on the institutional environment of the ABS, including the legislative obligations of the ABS which cover this collection, please see ABS Institutional Environment. Data on government and non-government schools are collected from administrative school enrolment databases, collated by the ABS through the non-finance National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC). In the case of government schools, the data is supplied to the ABS by each state/territory education authority. For non-government schools, the data is supplied to the ABS by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

The majority of education authorities supply ABS with data in aggregate format, however, a number of authorities also or alternatively provide student data at unit record level (URL).


This publication contains data on schools, students and in-school staff involved in the provision or administration of primary and secondary education, in government and non-government schools, for all Australian states and territories including other territories and Norfolk Island.

Schools are classified by level of education taught (primary, secondary, combined or special) and affiliation (government or non-government, with non-government further subcategorised as Catholic or Independent).

Students are classified by level and Year of education, Indigenous status, full-time or part-time status, age at 1 July, category of school and sex.

In-school staff data are available as (i) counts of staff or (ii) full-time equivalent value of staff. Categories used for reporting in-school staff may include pro-rated figures where staff may be reported against more than one classification. This includes the classification of school level (particularly for staff in combined schools and staff working in more than one school) and major area of activity.

Full-time equivalent in-school staff are classified by level of school education (primary or secondary), major function (broad job roles) and sex.

Counts of in-school staff are classified by major function (broad job roles) and sex.

Outputs included in the publication include the number of:

    full-time equivalent students
    in-school staff, and
    full-time equivalent in-school staff.

Also included are:
    the ratio of full-time equivalent students to teaching staff, and
    measures of student engagement including apparent retention rates.
Comparable statistics are provided for each of the states and territories, and nationally where appropriate.


The NSSC is based on the national school census that is conducted annually on the first Friday in August by each state and territory department of education and the non-government education systems. Information is disseminated through the ABS website in February and March the following year.


The NSSC is based on enrolment information from education administrative data systems at the time of the school census, collected in accordance with agreed national standards and definitions. For government data, each school provides and/or validates the information reflecting their enrolments to the relevant state education department. Each state and territory education department processes the data so that data forwarded to the ABS represents, or can be used to derive, student counts (a count of natural persons within a system of education).

Non-government data are co-ordinated through the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

The ABS undertakes validation of all received data prior to publication to ensure nationally comparable and historically consistent output.

Due to the different enrolment systems, the ability to manage multiple records of enrolment for a student may vary among jurisdictions. This may result in a small degree of over-reporting of school students in some jurisdictions.

Some minor exceptions exist in the interpretation of the standards applying to the collection and the ability of systems to collect data to the specifications of the collection. This may affect comparisons of school counts, student counts and student full-time equivalent values. Any differences are annotated in the tables where relevant.


NSSC school and student information is a subset of the enrolment information provided by the various education authorities. Staff information is a subset of those authorities’ administrative staff and human resources data. The application of NSSC business rules may result in counts which differ from those in other datasets originating from the same education authorities. For example, NSSC student counts may not reconcile to enrolment counts available in alternate datasets where multiple enrolments were reported for those students enrolled in more than one school. Similarly, NSSC schools counts may not reconcile to school counts reported elsewhere due to differences in the definition of a school. These issues are addressed in the Explanatory Notes. The production of aggregate counts from URL data by the ABS may also lead to different counts that would be obtained where the data is aggregated by another party. Again, the application of differing business rules is the source of any such differences.

State and territory governments report on schools, students and staff in their Annual Reports.

State and territory governments provide NSSC data to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training for Commonwealth funding purposes.

State and territory governments provide school, student and staff data to the Australian Curriculum Assessment & Reporting Authority (ACARA) for school level reporting.

NSSC data is reported through the National Report on Schooling in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan, National Education Agreement, National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions, and the Report on Government Services.

The Australian Government Department of Education and Training reports on student and staff data for non-government schools. These data are collected for the purposes of administering the Australian Education Act 2013.

Student to teaching staff ratios include staff with class contact but who are not teachers, as well as staff who do not have a permanent class of students but are teachers (e.g. specialist teachers such as foreign language teachers). These figures are not indicative of class sizes.

The five-yearly Census of Population and Housing includes information on children attending school and the occupation of Australians (including teachers).

The ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used in the calculation of some measures of school engagement in this publication. It is used as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the population. The ERP is an estimate of the population of Australia, based on final data from the most recently published ABS Census of Population and Housing, and updated quarterly using information on births, deaths, and overseas and internal migration provided by state, territory and Australian government departments. See Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) for further details. These measures of engagement are subject to estimation error where the conceptual bases under which the data are collected and compiled differ. For example, there are a very small number of students counted in the schools collection that are not included in the ERP (for example students who are children of foreign diplomats). For more information see the Explanatory Notes.


Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0) contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Appendices and a Glossary which 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 Notes, Instructions and Tabulations manual (NIT). URL data are collected and reported to classifications as stated in the NSSC Data Collection Manual (DCM), and align with the aggregate data specifications in the NIT. Both documents are available from the ABS on request.


In addition to the information provided in the publication, a number of data cubes containing time series data are available at the time of release of the publication. These provide detailed breakdowns of the various data classifications.

If the information you require is not available from the publication or the data cubes, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.