4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2019 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/02/2020   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

Quality declaration

Institutional environment

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 rests with the Education Council.

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. In the case of government schools, the data are supplied to the ABS by each state/territory education authority. For non-government schools, the data are supplied to the ABS by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Most education authorities supply the ABS with unit record level data for students and schools, which are subsequently processed and output in aggregate format.

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.


This publication contains data on schools, students 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 including Other Territories and Norfolk Island.

Schools are classified by level of education (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, affiliation of school and sex.

Staff data are available as counts of staff or full-time equivalent value of staff. Categories used for reporting in-school staff may include pro-rated figures 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 position roles) and sex.

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

Outputs in the publication include the number of:

  • students
  • full-time equivalent students
  • schools
  • in-school staff
  • full-time equivalent in-school staff
  • out-of-school staff
  • full-time equivalent out-of-school staff
  • the ratio of full-time equivalent students to teaching staff, and
  • various measures relating to students, including apparent retention rates.

Comparable statistics are provided for each of the states and territories, and nationally where appropriate.

Student to teaching staff ratios include staff who have class contact but 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). Thus, these figures are not indicative of class sizes.


The National Schools Statistics Collection 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 the following February.


The National Schools Statistics Collection 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, Skills and Employment.

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 student numbers in some jurisdictions.

Some minor differences exist across jurisdictions 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.


National Schools Statistics Collection 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 National Schools Statistics Collection business rules may result in counts which differ from those in other datasets originating from the same education authorities. For example, 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, 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 unit record level data by the ABS may lead to a difference between these and counts that would be obtained where the data are aggregated by another party. Again, the different application of business rules would be the source of any such differences.

At times, jurisdictions may make changes to their administrative systems that impact on the comparability of statistics between years. Key changes are documented in the explanatory material accompanying collection outputs.

Other reporting of information about schools, staff and students:
  • State and territory governments report on schools, students and staff in their Annual Reports.
  • State and territory governments provide National Schools Statistics Collection data to the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment for Commonwealth funding purposes.
  • State and territory governments provide school, student and staff data to the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for school level reporting.
  • National Schools Statistics Collection data are reported through the National Report on Schooling in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan, and the Report on Government Services.
  • The Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment reports on student and staff data for non-government schools. These data are collected for the purposes of administering the Australian Education Act 2013.

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 series is used in the calculation of some student-related measures in this publication. It is used as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the population. The estimated resident population is based on final data from the most recently published ABS Census of Population and Housing, 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 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 estimated resident population (for example students who are children of foreign diplomats). For more information see the Explanatory notes.


Schools, Australia contains detailed explanatory notes 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 National Schools Statistics Collection Notes, Instructions and Tabulations manual. Unit record level data are collected and reported to classifications as stated in the National Schools Statistics Collection Data Collection Manual, and align with the aggregate data specifications in the Notes, Instructions and Tabulations manual. Both documents are available from the ABS on request.


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