4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/02/2005   
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Affiliation of non-government schools

Affiliation refers to the link between the individual non-government schools and the systems that administer their operation. In Australia the largest non-government affiliated group is the Catholic school system. Other schools have loose associations with religious or secular bodies or are entirely independent. The categories of Catholic and other non-government (Independent) are the only levels of non-government schooling reported on in this publication.

Apparent retention rate

This is the number of school students in a designated level/year of education expressed as a percentage of their respective cohort group (which is either at the commencement of their secondary schooling or Year 10). In this publication, apparent retention rates are generally calculated for full-time school students who continued to Year 12 of secondary schooling (tables 11-14). A separate comparison has been included for apparent retention rates for full-time Indigenous and non-Indigenous school students who continued to Years 9, 10, 11 or 12 (table 14). A table covering all students (full-time plus part-time) from Year 10 to Year 12 is included in table 15. See Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 20-23 for details of how apparent retention rates are calculated.

Category of school

This is the classification of schools to the government or non-government sector for the purposes of this collection.

Full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff

This is a measure of the total level of teaching staff resources used. The FTE of a full-time teaching staff member (i.e. employed full-time and engaged solely on activities which fall within the scope of this collection) is equal to 1.0.

The calculation of FTE for part-time teaching staff is as follows:

  • The FTE of part-time teaching staff performing some activities which fall outside the scope of this collection (e.g. preschool or TAFE) is calculated on the basis of the proportion of time spent on in-scope activities compared with that spent by a full-time teaching staff member solely occupied by in-scope activities.
  • The FTE of part-time teaching staff performing activities which fall solely within the scope of this collection is calculated on the basis of time worked compared with that worked by full-time teaching staff performing similar duties.

Some states and territories are not able to calculate FTE on a time-spent basis for all teaching staff functions but use wages paid as a fraction of full-time rate, or a resource allocation based formula. Some also use a pro rata formula based on student or teacher numbers to estimate aggregate FTE for some categories of teaching staff.

Indigenous student

An Indigenous student is a student of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. Note that, historically, the way in which Indigenous status has been determined has varied across states and territories.

Level and Year of education

Level of education is split into primary and secondary school education. Year of education comprises Pre-year 1 through to Year 12, plus ungraded primary and ungraded secondary.

Other education establishment

Other establishments within the scope of these statistics, but not defined as schools include:
  • Administrative offices which have as their major activity the administration of primary, secondary or special education.
  • Teacher resource centres operated by a state or territory Director-General of Education (or equivalent).

Primary education

Primary education typically commences at around age five and lasts for seven to eight years. It does not include sessional education such as preschool education. In NSW, Vic., Tas. and the ACT, primary education may extend from Pre-year 1 to Year 6. In SA, WA and the NT it may extend from Pre-year 1 to Year 7. In Qld it may extend from Year 1 to Year 7. In 2003 and 2004 in Qld a Pre-year 1 trial operated in a small number of schools.


A school (other than a special school) must satisfy the following criteria:
  • its major activity is the provision of full-time day primary or secondary education or the provision of primary or secondary distance education.
  • it is headed by a principal (or equivalent) responsible for its internal operation.
  • it is possible for students to enrol for a minimum of four continuous weeks, excluding breaks for school vacations.

The term ‘school’ in this publication includes schools in institutions and hospitals, mission schools and similar establishments. The term excludes preschools, kindergarten centres, pre-primary schools or pre-primary classes in or attached to non-special schools, senior technical and agricultural colleges, evening schools, continuation classes and institutions such as business or coaching colleges.

School age participation rate

The school age participation rate is the number of full-time school students of a particular age expressed as a proportion of the Estimated Resident Population of the same age at June (published in cat. no. 3201.0). It indicates the proportion of the resident population who are at school. Whereas apparent retention rates rely on students having to progress year by year through the school education system, participation rates relate to the resident population as a whole. In the ACT some rates exceed 100%. This is mainly due to the enrolment of secondary school students in ACT secondary schools who are not residents of the ACT, but live in surrounding NSW regions.

Secondary education

Secondary education typically commences after completion of primary education, at around age 12 years, and lasts for five or six years. In NSW, Vic., Tas. and the ACT, secondary education may extend from Year 7 to Year 12. In Qld, SA, WA, and the NT it may extend from Year 8 to Year 12. Part-time secondary student estimates vary considerably between states and territories, as each education authority has different policy and organisational arrangements. The number of part-time courses available also varies considerably between states and territories. Age level data for part-time students are not published as not all states and territories collect the age of part-time students.

Special school

A special school provides special instruction for physically and/or mentally disabled or impaired students, or those with social problems. Students must exhibit one or more of the following characteristics before enrolment is allowed:
  • mental or physical disability or impairment
  • slow learning ability
  • social or emotional problems
  • in custody, on remand or in hospital.


A student is a person who is formally enrolled in a school and active in a course of study other than preschool or TAFE courses. Students not present at school on the NSSC census date were included if they were expected to be absent for less than four continuous weeks (excluding school vacations) and were excluded if they had left the school or had been absent without explanation for four continuous weeks (excluding school vacations) prior to the census date.

Students who are undertaking TAFE, tertiary studies, apprenticeships, work placements, VET in schools or a combination of such pathways, in addition to 'normal' school subjects, are in the scope of the NSSC, regardless of which year of schooling these alternative pathways are undertaken. The workload of both the 'normal' school subject(s) and alternative pathways are aggregated together to determine whether a student is classified as full-time or part-time and in calculating the full-time equivalent for part-time students.

A full-time student is one who undertakes a workload equivalent to, or greater than, that prescribed for a full-time student of that year level. This may vary between states and territories and from year to year.

A part-time student is one who undertakes a workload less than that specified as full-time.

The FTE of part-time students has been calculated by dividing the student's workload into that which is considered to be a full workload by that state or territory. To calculate the FTE of all students the FTE of part-time students is added to the number of full-time students.

Teaching staff

Teaching staff are staff who spend the majority of their time in contact with students. They support students either by direct class contact or on an individual basis, and have teaching duties, that is, are engaged to impart school curriculum. For the purposes of this collection, teaching staff includes principals, deputy principals and senior teachers mainly involved in administration. Teacher aides and assistants, and specialist support staff are excluded.