4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2016 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2017   
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In 2016 there were 3,798,226 students enrolled in schools across Australia, representing an increase of 47,253 (1.3%) on the previous year’s figure. The number of students enrolled in government schools rose by 38,672 (1.6%), while in the non-government sector, students enrolled in Catholic schools reported a very slight increase of 1,511 (0.2%) and students at Independent schools increased by 7,070 (1.3%) on the 2015 figure.

In 2016, the share of national student enrolments at the affiliation level showed that the Government share increased from 65.2% in 2015 to 65.4% in 2016. This was balanced by the Catholic share of enrolments dropping to 20.2%, down from 20.4% in 2015. The Independent enrolment share remained steady at 14.4%.

Of the states and territories, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia showed the most significant annual changes in the enrolled number of students by affiliation. In the ACT, total enrolments increased by 2.3%, however, by affiliation, Government enrolments increased by 4.0% while Catholic enrolments fell by 1.3%. South Australia reported an increase in total enrolments of 0.5% with Government enrolments increasing by 1.3% and Catholic enrolments falling by 2.2%. Independent enrolments in SA showed a slight increase of 0.5% on the 2015 figure.

Graph Image for Proportion of Students, by Affiliation, States and territories, 2016


In 2016 there were 207,852 students enrolled in Australian schools identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This represents an increase of 3.6% on the 2015 figure, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students now comprising almost 5.5% of all students. This increase continues on from those in recent years, in part reflecting the success of programs to improve identification and data collection for this group of students.

Graph Image for Number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students, Australia, 2006-2016

The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students (83.9%) were enrolled in government schools, while 10.5% were enrolled in Catholic schools, and 5.6% were enrolled in Independent schools.

Graph Image for Number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, by States and territories, 2016


Between 2015 and 2016 the Apparent Retention Rate from Year 7/8 to Year 12 for all full-time students rose marginally, from 84.0% to 84.3%. The rate was 87.8% for females and 80.9% for males.

At the affiliation level, the Apparent Retention Rate for Year 7/8 to Year 12 in government schools rose from 81.8% to 82.5%, while the rate for Catholic schools remained steady at 83.8% and the Independent rate fell from 91.5% in 2015 to 90.5% in 2016.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, the Apparent Retention Rate to Year 12 rose slightly between 2015 and 2016, from 59.4% to 59.8%. The rate for females (64.1%) exceeded that for males (55.7%).


Between 2015 and 2016, the net number of schools in Australia increased by 10, to 9,414. At the affiliation level, government primary schools increased by 7, government secondary schools increased by 3, while the number of combined schools fell by 15. The number of Catholic schools increased by 1, to 1,738, while Independent schools increased by 14, to 1,042.


In 2016 there were 394,762.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) in-school staff in Australia which represents a rise of 12,074.8 (3.2%) on the 2015 figure. Staff (FTE) in government schools rose by 8,211, with Catholic schools increasing by 1,759.6 and Independent schools by 2,104.2. This rise of 3.2% is significantly larger than the 1.3% increase in student enrolments between 2015 and 2016.

Around Australia, individual states and territories recorded increases in the number of FTE in-school staff of between 1.6% (South Australia) and 4.2% (Western Australia).

Looking nationally at staff by major function, 276,329.8 were teaching staff with 95,995.1 administrative and clerical staff the next most common category.