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Schools, Australia methodology

Reference period
2018
Released
8/03/2019

Explanatory notes

Introduction

This product contains statistics on students and schools, and the staff involved in the provision or administration of school education. It includes the government and non-government school populations for all Australian states and territories.

Data used in the compilation of these statistics are sourced from the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) (non-finance), which is a joint undertaking between state and territory government departments of education, the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

These explanatory notes and the accompanying glossary and appendix provide information on the data sources, counting rules, terminology and classifications associated with these statistics. All data are collected and reported to standard classifications as stated in the NSSC Data Collection Manual which is available from the ABS on request.

Scope and coverge

The scope of the statistics in this publication relates to establishments which have, as their major activity, the administration and/or provision of full-time day primary, secondary or special education, or primary or secondary distance education. The statistics in this publication do not include school-level education conducted by other institutions, in particular Technical and Further Education (TAFE) establishments, unless such education is part of the student’s school enrolment.

Students undertaking 'home schooling' are only included if they are also formally enrolled and active in a course of study at an in-scope establishment. No part of a student’s home schooling is included in the NSSC.

Statistics for the government series relate to; all establishments administered by the departments of education under the director-general of education (or equivalent) in each state/territory, students attending those establishments, and all staff engaged in the administration or provision of school education at those establishments.

Statistics for the non-government series relate to all in-scope establishments not administered by the state/territory departments of education.

Data for the non-government establishments are reported by schools through the Schools Entry Point, which is managed by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training to support schools in meeting their mandatory reporting requirements under the Australian Education Act 2013. These data are then collated by the Department and a subset is provided to the ABS for the NSSC.

Education services in Jervis Bay Territory are provided by the Australian Capital Territory Education Directorate. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for Jervis Bay Territory are included with those for the Australian Capital Territory.

Education services in the Territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Territory of Christmas Island are provided by the Department of Education Western Australia. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for these territories are included with those for Western Australia.

Education services in Norfolk Island are provided by the New South Wales Department of Education. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for Norfolk Island are included with those for New South Wales.

Emergency and relief teaching staff who are employed on a casual basis are not included in this collection to avoid double counting. Emergency and relief teachers replace permanent teaching staff when they are absent for short periods of time.

Part-time student data by age are available only from 2006 onwards.

Census date

The census date for the National Schools Statistics Collection is the first Friday in August each year. For 2018, the census enrolment reference date was 3 August.

Age reference date

The age reference date for students is 1 July.

Data comparability

Occasionally, jurisdictions make changes in the administration of their education system that can impact on the coherence of the statistics produced in this publication over time. The following paragraphs (in reverse chronological order) note the most significant changes of this nature made to the collection from 2012 onwards. For changes prior to 2012 please refer to previous releases of Schools, Australia.

In 2018, New South Wales (NSW) introduced a new system to report staffing levels. The counts of government in-school staff reported through this new system are considered to be more accurate than in previous years. This change has resulted in a large increase in NSW government in-school staff numbers for 2018. Care should be taken when comparing NSW 2018 government in-school staff numbers with the presented time series statistics.

In 2018, a proportion of South Australian government students undertook a study load greater than 1 full-time equivalent (FTE) load. The study load component which exceeds 1.0 FTE for a single student has been excluded from these data.

In 2018, the Australian Capital Territory provided revised 2017 staff data, which have been included in this release. Care should be taken when comparing time series data in this release to previous releases of Schools, Australia.

In 2015, the structure of schooling in Queensland and Western Australia changed, with Year 7 becoming the first year of secondary schooling, whereas previously it was Year 8.

Commencing in 2015, Queensland government schools were expected to provide a language program in Years 5 to 8. Students enrolled in a school of distance education for their language program were recorded as a part-time enrolment in addition to their full-time enrolment at their base government school, resulting in dual enrolments for 2015 and 2016. The addition of these dual enrolments were not reconciled in student counts, resulting in an increase to the number of part-time students reported in Years 5 to 8 between 2014 and 2015, most noticeably in Year 5. This treatment of dual enrolments in Queensland government school student counts will also be present in other totals to which these counts contribute, although the number of students is thought to be small.

Prior to 2014 in South Australia, most children started school at age five, and it was common for children to start school at the beginning of the school term following their fifth birthday. From 2014 onwards, children will usually commence school at the start of the year in which they turn five.

Tasmania has alternated between a single and multiple entity college structure. This has impacted on the number of students included in the NSSC as these structural changes have seen some Year 11 and 12 students change classification between school and the vocational education and training sector and hence move in and out of scope of the NSSC.

From 2012 on, the Victorian Department of Education and Training assigns a proportion of the full-time equivalent (FTE) of staff working at combined schools, or at more than one school, at the school level. This was previously done at the state level. This results in a more accurate estimate of staff FTE.

In 2012, the Queensland Department of Education and Training noted continuing improvements in the response to identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status in government schools, along with a considerable reduction in the number of “not stated” responses. This may affect comparisons of students by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status with previous years.

The number of schools in a particular jurisdiction may vary from year to year due to administrative changes which alter the composition of schools. For example:

  • secondary schools may split to create middle schools and senior secondary schools
  • schools may fall in or out of scope based on changes in the major activity of the establishment, or
  • two or more schools may be amalgamated to form one school. Such changes may also result in a changed profile of school characteristics (e.g. the merger of the primary and secondary school to form a combined school means that the amalgamated school's enrolment size would be reported as a sum of the enrolments).
     

For more information on specific changes in individual jurisdictions, please refer to the relevant state or territory department website.

The structure of primary and secondary schooling in Australia differs between states and territories. For the impact on comparability of statistics, please see Appendix - Differences in schooling structures.

Methodology

The methodologies employed in compiling government sector data vary between the different state and territory departments of education. Data may be accessed from central administrative databases, sourced from education sectorial bodies or collected directly from education establishments. Data are provided to the ABS for the compilation of statistics.

The Australian Government Department of Education and Training collects data for establishments in the non-government sector for all states and territories for administrative purposes. The non-government sector statistics in this publication are a summary of results from that collection.

Interpretation of results

The comparability of these statistics may vary between state and territories, and that of schooling sectors, where different policies and administrative arrangements may affect:

  • the organisation of grades
  • timing and rates of student intake and advancement
  • flows from secondary to vocational education, or
  • the recruitment and employment of teachers.
     

There is no national standard covering the allocation of all students and classes to a particular grade of school education. A number of schools (other than special schools) do not maintain a formal grade structure. Where possible, students at these schools have been allocated to equivalent grades by the relevant education authorities, but otherwise appear against the ungraded category in either the primary or secondary level of school education.

Relatively small changes in some small populations between years can create large movements in rates and ratios. These populations might include smaller jurisdictions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and subcategories of the non-government sector.

The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used in the calculation of some apparent rates in this product. ERP is used as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the Australian population, by state and territory, age and sex.

The ERP is a quarterly estimate of the population of Australia, based on data from the five yearly ABS Census of Population and Housing, and is updated using information on births, deaths, and overseas and internal migration provided by state, territory and Australian government departments. For more information, see: ABS Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. 3101.0).

Rates

This product includes apparent rates statistics measuring the proportion of students proceeding through the Australian schooling system. The calculation of actual rates is not currently possible due to the varied levels of detail in data provided to the ABS.

Rates are calculated using the total reported cohort populations in a selected jurisdiction at a selected year either as a percentage of the total population (ERP) or as a percentage of the population for the cohort in an earlier year. Rates calculated by this methodology are known as 'apparent' rates. Accordingly, the term 'apparent' is used to refer to all rates in this product that are not the 'actual' rate that would result from direct measurement of the movement of each individual student.

For example in NSW in 2011, the NSSC reported 45,262 students aged 15, while ERP reported 46,358 persons aged 15. In 2012, in NSW, the NSSC reported 41,195 students aged 16, while ERP reported 46,741 persons aged 16. This equates to an Apparent Continuation Rate (ACR) of 100*(41,195/46,741)/(45,262/46,358) or 90.3%.

There are a number of reasons why apparent rates may generate results that differ from actual rates. These reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • students progressing at a faster or slower rate than expected (one grade each calendar year)
  • students changing between full-time or part-time study
  • migration (interstate/international)
  • inter-sector (affiliation) transfer
  • enrolment policies (which contribute to different age/grade structures between states and territories)
  • students who attend school in a state/territory different to that in which they live
  • a different reference period used in calculating ERP (30 June) verses that used as the reference in the school system (1 August), and
  • the children of diplomats, short term international exchange students and possible other anomalies, where students are counted in one statistic (school enrolment) but not in another (ERP).


Such scenarios may also lead to apparent rates taking values of greater than 100%. From 2015 onwards, following a review of outputs from this product, the ABS released rates tables in two formats, one with rates exceeding 100% capped to a maximum value of 100.0 (capped), and one where rates exceeding 100% continue to be reported as the raw calculated value (uncapped). Rates that are capped at 100% are recommended for use as the authoritative measure/s of student progression, while uncapped rates tables may be more suitable for specific purposes such as undertaking time series analysis of the data or examining movements in underlying student populations.

The formulae and methodology used for the calculation of School Participation Rates, Apparent Continuation Rates and Apparent Progression Rates are available in the Research Paper: Deriving Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education from the National Schools Statistics Collection (cat. no. 1351.0.55.016) published in December 2006.

Apparent Retention Rate (ARR)

This statistic provides an indicative measure of the proportion of students who have stayed at school, for a designated year and grade of education. It is expressed as a percentage of the respective cohort group that those students would be expected to have come from, assuming an expected rate of progression of one grade per year. For example, an ARR for grades 10 to 12 in 2018 would measure the proportion of grade 10 students in 2016 that had remained in the schooling system until grade 12 in 2018.

The grade of commencement of secondary school varies across states and territories and over time. Rates that use the grade of commencement of secondary school as the base grade, may use a different base grade for each state and territory, depending on the schooling structure in each state and territory. These data are comparable as the cohorts are retrospective to the grade and year from which the rate is calculated. These variations are incorporated into the calculation of rates at the Australia level.

In 2015, the structure of schooling in Queensland and Western Australia changed, with Year 7 becoming the first year of secondary schooling, whereas previously it was Year 8. For those ARRs using the first grade of secondary education as the base year, this will impact both state specific ARRs in Queensland and Western Australia, and national ARRs calculated from 2016 onwards.

South Australia is now the only state or territory where grade 8 remains as the first grade of secondary schooling. Grade 8 will remain as the base cohort for calculating rates for students commencing secondary school in South Australia.

School Participation Rate (SPR)

This is a measure of the number of school students of a particular age expressed as a proportion of the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) of the same age. It indicates the proportion of the population by age enrolled at school.

Rates in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) may exceed 100% by large amounts. This is mainly due to the enrolment of students in ACT schools who are not usual residents of the ACT, but who live in surrounding New South Wales regions. This is referred to as cross-border enrolment.

Non-participation in school education is not included in this product as it cannot be accurately calculated from the supplied administrative data.

Apparent Continuation Rate (ACR)

This is a measure of the proportion of a single year age group of students (full-time and part-time) who have continued from one calendar year to the next. It can be expressed as the school participation rate of a population age cohort in one year as a percentage of the School Participation Rate of the same cohort in the previous year. For example, an ACR for students aged 15 turning 16 would measure the proportion of those 15 year old school students that were still at school 12 months later.

Apparent Continuation Rates can be calculated for any population age cohort with a specific characteristic such as all students of a given sex or in a given jurisdiction as long as a count of the total population with that age and characteristic is available.

Apparent Continuation Rates include both full-time and part-time students, and are adjusted to factor in changes in the population.

Apparent Progression Rate (APR)

In 2018 the ABS ceased producing apparent progression rates.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) student/teaching staff ratios

FTE student/teaching staff ratios are calculated by dividing the FTE student figure by the FTE teaching staff figure. Student/teaching staff ratios are an indicator of the level of staffing resources used and should not be used as a measure of class size. They do not take account of teacher aides and other non-teaching staff who may also assist in the delivery of school education.

Some states and territories are not able to calculate FTE values on a time-spent basis for all staff functions, but instead use wages paid as a fraction of the full-time pay rate, or a resource allocation based formula. Some also use a pro-rata formula based on student or staff numbers to estimate aggregate FTE for some categories of staff. This includes staff at combined schools who are allocated to either primary or secondary.

Sex classification

In 2018, there were 91 students whose biological sex was reported as neither male nor female. Reporting on this basis was only completed by a small number of providers, so this number does not reflect the total number of Australian school students who are not male or female. Additionally, there were a small number of staff from the non-government schooling sector whose biological sex was reported as neither male nor female. In order to protect the confidentiality of these individuals the ABS have randomly assigned them to have either a male or female status. This approach aligns to the United Nations Statistical Division 2010, Handbook on Population and Housing Census Editing, Revision 1, (Sections 346-347). The ABS will seek to improve on this method once the input data quality can adequately support an alternative treatment.

Overview of the schools Australia publication

Schools, Australia overview

Schools, Australia is an annual publication of data on schools and students, and the staff involved in the provision or administration of primary and secondary education. It covers all Australian states and territories. All data are available by year, state and territory, and affiliation (government or non-government) with some data also available in further subcategories of the non-government classification (Catholic and independent).

Schools are classified by:

  • school type (primary, secondary, combined, special), and
  • size of primary and secondary enrolments.


Student data are available as counts of students and counts of full-time equivalent (FTE) students, and are classified by:

  • full-time or part-time status
  • Indigenous status
  • sex
  • school level (primary, secondary)
  • grade
  • age of student (as at 1 July of the reference year), and
  • affiliation of school.


In-school staff data are available as counts of staff and counts of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, and are classified by:

  • school level (primary, secondary)
  • sex, and
  • major function (broad position role).


Out-of-school staff data are available as counts of staff and counts of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, and are classified by:

  • sex, and
  • major function (broad position role).


Outputs published in Schools, Australia include:

  • number of students
  • number of full-time equivalent students
  • number of schools
  • number of schools and number of full-time equivalent students by the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) remoteness indicator
  • number of in-school staff
  • number of full-time equivalent in-school staff
  • number of out-of-school staff
  • number of full-time equivalent out-of-school staff
  • ratio of full-time equivalent students to teaching staff, and
  • measures relating to students, including apparent retention rates.


Comparable statistics are provided for each jurisdiction and nationally.

Data from the collection support national education reporting through the National Education Agreement, Report on Government Services, the National Report on Schooling in Australia, and the National Indigenous Reform Agreement.

General acknowledgement

This publication draws extensively on information provided by state and territory departments with responsibility for school education and the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. The information is provided to the ABS under applicable state and territory legislation. The continued co-operation of these agencies enables the ABS to publish a wide range of education statistics.

Source data

Data are drawn from the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) (non-finance) which is a joint undertaking of the various state and territory departments of education, the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, the ABS, and the Education Council. The scope of the collection is bound by the definitions of schools, students and staff published in the NSSC Data Collection Manual, which is available on request from the ABS. For further information, see the Glossary and Methodology page of this publication.

Rounding

Where estimates are rounded, discrepancies may occur between component items and their totals.

Privacy and confidentiality

Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and in line with the Privacy Act 1988. Some figures have been perturbed in order to prevent the disclosure of information that may allow the identification of individuals or organisations.

Inquiries

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Appendix - differences in schooling structures

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Differences in schooling structures

The structure of primary and secondary schooling in Australia differs among states and territories.

In 2018, the two basic patterns in formal schooling in Australia were:

  • In all states and territories except South Australia, primary school was Pre-Year 1 to Year 6, and secondary school consisted of Year 7 to Year 12.
  • In South Australia, primary school consisted of Pre-Year 1 to Year 7 and secondary school consisted of Year 8 to Year 12.


Naming conventions for the first year of primary school (pre-Year 1) differ between states and territories. Pre-Year 1 is known as:

  • Kindergarten in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
  • Preparatory in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania
  • Reception in South Australia
  • Pre-primary in Western Australia
  • Transition in the Northern Territory, and
  • Foundation Year in the Australian Curriculum.


Data on preschool education are available annually through Preschool Education, Australia (cat. no. 4240.0).

Age structure of primary and secondary schooling

The age at which children must attend school is the subject of specific legislation within each state and territory. In 2018, the minimum starting ages for Pre-Year 1 generally restricted enrolment to children aged between four and a half and five years at the beginning of the year.

  • New South Wales. Children must attend school from the age of six.
  • Victoria. Children must attend school from the age of six; however children turning five before 30 April may start school in that year.
  • Queensland. Children must attend school from the age of six years and six months.
  • South Australia. Children must attend school from the age of six; however children turning five before 1 May may start school in that year.
  • Western Australia. Children must start school from the beginning of the year if they are to reach the age of five years and six months during the year.
  • Tasmania. Children must attend school from the age of five.
  • Northern Territory. Children must attend school from the age of six.
  • Australian Capital Territory. Children must attend school from the age of six.


Information on changes to schooling structures over time is also available in the Methodology page.

Glossary

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Affiliation

Affiliation categorises schools and their enrolments and refers to the systems that administer their operation. The affiliation classification has two broad categories, government and non-government.

In this product, the subcategories of non-government affiliation are reported as either Catholic (systemic and non-systemic) or Independent (Anglican schools and other schools which have associations with religious or secular bodies, or are entirely independent).

Ancillary Education Establishment (AEE)

An ancillary education establishment is defined as an establishment which satisfies all of the following criteria:

  • its major activity is the provision of aspects of full-time day primary, secondary or special school education to students supplementary to that provided by schools, and
  • it has attached to it (possibly on a part-time basis) at least one permanent teacher or other supervisory person, and
  • students from more than one school may undertake education at it.


Examples of AEEs include:

  • hospital and prison schools (those not classified as special schools)
  • schools of the air which do not have officially recognised student enrolments (although students may be supervised with work programs from their 'home school' or a distance education school)
  • an education unit attached to a museum or art gallery, and
  • a work experience, music or computing centre, etc.
     

Apparent rates

Rates in this product are termed ‘apparent’ as they are calculated using aggregate student data and have been developed to provide indicative measurements of student engagement in secondary education. The term 'apparent' is used to refer to all rates in this product that are not the 'actual' rate that would result from direct measurement of the movement of each individual student.

Apparent Continuation Rate (ACR)

This statistic measures the proportion of an age group of students (full-time and part-time) that has continued in school from one grade to the next. See Methodology page for further information.

Apparent Retention Rate (ARR)

This statistic provides an indicative measure of the proportion of students who have stayed at school, for a designated observation year and grade of education. It is expressed as a percentage of the respective cohort group that those students would be expected to have come from, assuming an expected rate of progression of one grade per calendar year. For example, an ARR for Years 10 to 12 in 2018 would measure the proportion of Year 10 students in 2016 that had remained in the schooling system until Year 12 in 2018.

Estimated Resident Population (ERP)

The ERP is an estimate of the population of Australia, based on data from the quinquennial ABS Census of Population and Housing, and is updated quarterly using information on births, deaths, and overseas and internal migration provided by state, territory and Australian government departments. See Australian Demographic Statistics, June 2018 (cat. 3101.0) for further details. The Methodology page contain further information on how this series is used in Schools, Australia, 2018 (cat. 4221.0).

Full-time student

This is based on the minimum workload required to ensure that a student could complete a given grade in a calendar year. The prescribed workload may vary between states and territories and from grade to grade.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) teaching staff

The FTE value is a measure used to indicate the level of staffing resources. Staff who are employed full-time and engaged solely on activities which fall within the scope of this collection have an FTE value of 1.0. All FTE values are rounded to one decimal place.

Staff not employed on a full-time basis, and/or engaged in a combination of in-scope and out-of-scope activities, have their FTE value calculated on the basis of the proportion of time spent on in-scope activities compared with staff that would be considered full-time.

Grade and school level

Grade of education comprises Pre-Year 1 through to Year 12, including Ungraded primary and Ungraded secondary.

School Level comprises Primary and Secondary.

Variations in schooling structures between the states and territories result in differences in the grades that comprise School Levels. In particular, variation occurs in the treatment of Year 7, which is the first grade of Secondary school for all states and territories with the exception of South Australia, where it is the last grade of Primary school.

For information on the structure of schooling in the various states and territories in Australia, see Appendix: Differences in Schooling Structures. The Methodology page contain further information on data comparability.

Indigenous status

For the purposes of this product a student is classified as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin based on information provided by the student, or their parent/guardian, on the school enrolment form.

National School Statistics Collection (NSSC)

The NSSC is a collection of data on students, schools, 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. A statistical summary of the results of the NSSC is the subject of this ABS release.

Part-time student

A part-time student is one who undertakes a workload less than that specified as full-time. The FTE value of a part-time student is calculated by dividing the student's workload by that which is considered to be the minimum workload for a full-time student by that state or territory. The minimum workload for a full-time student is that which would ensure the student could complete a given grade in a calendar year.

Methods for estimating the FTE value of part-time students vary between states and territories due to different policy and administrative arrangements.

Age level data for part-time students is available only from 2006 onwards.

School

A school is an education establishment which satisfies all of 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, and
  • it is possible for students to enrol for a minimum of four continuous weeks, excluding breaks for school vacations.


The term 'school' in this product includes schools in institutions and hospitals, mission schools and similar establishments.

The term 'school' in this product excludes preschools, early learning or long day-care centres, senior technical and agricultural colleges, evening schools, continuation classes and institutions such as business or coaching colleges.

Multi-campus arrangements are counted as one school. Changes to school counts in this product can occur when multiple schools amalgamate into a single multi-campus school, or multi-campus schools divide into separate schools.

Special school

A special school satisfies the definition of a school and enrols students with one or more of the following characteristics:

  • mental or physical disability or impairment
  • slow learning ability
  • social or emotional problems
  • in custody, on remand or in hospital.
     

Special schools include Special Assistance Schools, as defined under the Australian Education Act, 2013. These are non-government schools that are:
(a) likely to be recognised by the State Minister as a special assistance school, and
(b) primarily established to cater for students with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Staff

Staff are persons engaged in the administration and/or provision of day primary, secondary or special school education, or primary or secondary education by distance education at in-scope education establishments.

The reporting of staff is split into two broad categories, In-school staff and Out-of-school staff. In-school staff spend the majority of their time actively engaged in duties at one or more schools or ancillary education establishments (AEEs). Out-of-school staff consists of executive staff and staff not generally active in schools or AEEs. Each of these is further categorised by major function, as determined by the duties performed.

Staff not employed on a full-time basis have their FTE value calculated on the basis of the proportion of time spent on in-scope activities compared with staff that would be considered full-time.

Staff absent from a position for a period of less than four continuous weeks, as at the Census date, are included. Staff who have been absent from a position for a period of four or more continuous weeks are excluded. Replacement staff are included if they occupied the position for four or more continuous weeks.

Included in the definition of staff are:

  • staff teaching evening secondary students attending Secondary Colleges
  • staff paid from school grant payments, and
  • staff employed under various government sponsored employment schemes.


Excluded from the definitions of staff are:

  • persons not under the control of the director-general (or equivalent), e.g. nurses or therapists working for the state or territory department of health (or equivalent)
  • persons responsible to a state, territory or Commonwealth minister of education but not to the director-general (or equivalent), and
  • persons under the control of the director-general (or equivalent) who satisfy one or more of the following criteria:
    • are cleaners, whether salaried or employed on contract
    • are involved in the management and/or maintenance of boarding or hostel facilities for students
    • are paid from privately raised funds
    • have been occupying, or expect to be occupying, a position for a period of less than four continuous weeks at the Census date, and/or
    • are persons replacing those who are temporarily absent.
       

Student

A student is a person who, as at census date, is formally enrolled in a school and active in a primary, secondary and/or special education program at that school. Students may be enrolled at more than one school, however jurisdictions employ strategies which ensure that, as far as possible, such students are reported only once in this collection.

Persons not present at a school on the NSSC census date are included if they were expected to be absent for less than four continuous weeks.

Student participation in VET in Schools (including through TAFE), school-based apprenticeships or traineeships, work placements or tertiary extension studies, or a combination of such programs as part of the student’s school enrolment, is in scope for the NSSC. The workload of these subjects/programs (which may take place outside the school premises) is included in a student’s aggregate workload to determine whether a student is classified as full-time or part-time, and in calculating the full-time equivalent for part-time students. The total workload recorded is capped at 1.00 FTE.

Teaching staff

Teaching staff are defined as those 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 are engaged to impart school curriculum.

For the purposes of this product, teaching staff also includes principals, deputy principals, campus principals and senior teachers mainly involved in administration. Teacher aides and assistants, and specialist support staff are excluded, except assistant teachers working in Homeland Learning Centres and Community Schools in the Northern Territory.

Quality declaration - summary

Institutional environment

Data used in the compilation of these statistics are sourced from the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) (non-finance), which is a joint undertaking between state and territory government departments of education, the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Data pertaining to the government schooling sector are supplied to the ABS by each state/territory education authority. Data pertaining to the non-government schooling sector are supplied to the ABS by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Data received by the ABS are treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

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.

Relevance

Schools, Australia, is an annual product describing schools, students and staff involved in the provision or administration Australian school education.

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 (i) counts of staff or (ii) full-time equivalent value of staff. 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.

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.

School-level education conducted by other institutions, such as ‘home schooling’ or Technical and Further Education (TAFE) establishments, are excluded.

Timeliness

This publication is an annual product. The National Schools Statistics Collection is based on the national Schools Census that is conducted yearly on the first Friday in August. For 2018, the census enrolment reference date was 3 August.

Accuracy

The data used in this publication are based on information from education administrative systems. Government school data is provided by each school to the relevant state education department. Non-government data are coordinated 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 amount of over-reporting of student numbers in some jurisdictions.

To avoid double-counting, emergency and relief teaching staff who are employed on a casual basis are not included in this collection.

Relatively small changes in some small populations between years can create large movements in rates and ratios.

Coherence

The ABS has produced the Schools, Australia publication, or its predecessors, annually since 1960. Given its long history, the ABS seeks to provide a high degree of consistency and comparability over time by minimising changes where possible. However, sound practice requires careful and continuing maintenance and development to maintain the integrity of the data and the efficiency of the collection.

At times, jurisdictions may make changes to their administrative systems that impact on the comparability of statistics between years. Key changes back to 2012 are documented in the Methodology page.

Interpretability

Schools, Australia contains detailed explanatory notes 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 the specification detailed in the NSSC Notes, Instructions and Tabulations Manual, and the NSSC Data Collection Manual. Both documents are available from the ABS on request.

Accessibility

Tabulated data are available in spreadsheet format and can be accessed from the Data downloads.

For further information about these or related statistics, please contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

Abbreviations

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ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ACARAAustralian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority
ACRApparent Continuation Rate
ACTAustralian Capital Territory
AEEAncillary Education Establishment
ANRNational Report on Schooling in Australia
APRApparent Progression Rate
ARRApparent Retention Rate
ASGSAustralian Statistical Geography Standard
Aust.Australia
cat. no.Catalogue number
DCMData Collection Manual
ERPEstimated Resident Population
FTEfull-time equivalent
MCEETYAMinisterial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs
no.number
NEANational Education Agreement
NITNotes, Instructions and Tabulations
NSSCNational Schools Statistics Collection
NSWNew South Wales
NTNorthern Territory
QldQueensland
ROGSReport on Government Services
SASouth Australia
SACESouth Australian Certificate of Education
SCSEECStanding Council on School Education and Early Childhood
SPRSchool Participation Rate
Tas.Tasmania
TAFETechnical and Further Education
VETVocational Education and Training
Vic.Victoria
WAWestern Australia