4220.0 - Schools, Australia, Preliminary, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/01/2010   
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For the purposes of the NSSC, data reporting is restricted to the categories of Government, Catholic and Independent schooling. 'Independent' describes all non-government schooling other than Catholic.

Apparent retention rate

The apparent retention rate (ARR) is the number of school students in a designated level-year of education expressed as a percentage of their respective cohort group in a base year. For example, for the 2009 ARR for year 10 to year 12, the cohort group in the base year would be the number of year 10 students in 2007, and the designated level-year of education would be the number of year 12 students in 2009.

Full-time equivalent (FTE)

This is the addition of those defined as full-time (who have an imputed value of 1.0) with the sum of the imputed values of those defined as part-time (who are assessed as having a value between 0.1 and 0.9). The term can apply to both students and staff.

Level of education

Level of education is split into primary and secondary school education (as defined).

Other in-school staff

Other in-school staff include staff who are active in school but do not spend the majority of their time teaching students. They are broadly grouped into Specialist support, Administrative and clerical, and Building operations and maintenance.

Primary school 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., NT and the ACT, primary education may extend from pre-year 1 to year 6. In Qld, SA, and WA it may extend from pre-year 1 to year 7. Qld introduced a formal pre-year 1 grade of school education in 2007. The structure of schooling in the NT changed in 2008 with year 7 schooling now considered part of secondary education.


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.

Secondary school 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., NT and the ACT, secondary education may extend from year 7 to year 12. In Qld, SA and WA 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.


A student is a person who prior to the census date 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). Students 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 full-time equivalent (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.

Student /Teaching staff ratio

The student to teaching staff ratio is the number of full-time students plus full-time equivalent (FTE) of part-time students divided by the number of FTE teaching staff.

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, (ie. are engaged to impart school curriculum). For the purposes of this collection, teaching staff includes principals, deputy principals, campus principals and senior teachers mainly involved in administration. Teacher aides and assistants, and specialist support staff are excluded.