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Data on students, staff, schools, rates and ratios for government and non-government schools, for all Australian states and territories

Reference period

Key statistics

  • there were 4,006,974 students enrolled in 9,542 schools.
  • teachers made up 68.1% of in-school full-time equivalent staff.
  • the Year 7 to 12 full-time apparent retention rate was 83.6%.
  • the average student to teaching staff ratio for all schools was 13.5 students to one teacher.

COVID-19 in this publication

The census date for the National Schools Statistics Collection is held the first Friday of August each year. For 2020, the census enrolment reference date was 7 August.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, various restrictions were in place at this time, which may impact on the data.

While the majority of schools across Australia continued as normal, initiatives to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community were put in place, including the implementation of remote online learning where required.

Overall, due to the way the collection counts enrolment it is estimated that the impacts of COVID-19 on the data were minor.

For the collection, a student is a person who is formally (officially) enrolled or registered at a school and who is also active in a primary, secondary or special education program at that school. Students were considered to be active in an education program, even if that program had been temporarily disrupted by COVID-19. Education programs included those that may have been temporarily delivered online or remotely due to COVID-19 disruptions. Students were included even if on census day the school was not delivering education programs due to COVID-19. 

Schools which were temporarily closed due to COVID-19 related reasons were considered to be operating for the purposes of the collection. This included schools ceasing operations due to COVID-19 restrictions, with teachers and staff not working, no students attending and no remote learning delivered. Schools were included in the census if, before the restrictions came into effect, they had students who were enrolled and involved in an active course of study, who meet all other eligibility criteria, and who would have otherwise been included in the census.

See Methodology for more information on Schools, Australia 2020.


In 2020

  • there were 4,006,974 students enrolled in schools across Australia, an increase of 58,163 (1.5%) since 2019
  • government schools held the greatest share of enrolments (65.6%), followed by Catholic schools (19.4%) and independent schools (15.0%)

Total student enrolments have continued to increase in the five years to 2020, with a 5.5% increase. Independent schools had the largest increase with 9.5%, followed by government schools with 5.9%.

Table 1. Student enrolments by school affiliation, Australia, 2016-2020
 202020192018201720162016-20 (% change)


Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Western Australia reported the highest annual growth rates of student enrolments in 2020 (2.8%, 2.5%, 1.6% and 1.5% respectively), while the Northern Territory reported the lowest growth rate (0.3%).

These patterns are consistent with changes to the total population aged 5 to 19 years living in these states and territories, with the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria experiencing the highest growth rates for this age group (1.7%, 1.4%, 1.3% and 1.1% respectively), and the Northern Territory with the lowest growth rate (0.1%) (National, state and territory population). 

In 2020, the proportion of students enrolled in non-government schools was

  • highest in the Australian Capital Territory (38.5%) and Victoria (36.0%)
  • lowest in the Northern Territory (25.5%)
  • lower for students enrolled in schools in very remote areas (12.7%) than for remote areas (21.1%), outer regional areas (26.2%), inner regional areas (33.9%) and major cities (35.9%)


Map 1. Student enrolment counts by state and territory and school affiliation, 2020

A map of Australia showing student enrolment counts by state and territory and school affiliation for 2020
A map of Australia showing student enrolment counts by state and territory and affiliation for 2020. Western Australia 289,971 Government student enrolments; 139,860 Non-Government enrolments. Northern Territory 30,411 Government student enrolments; 10,398 Non-Government enrolments. South Australia 177,038 Government student enrolments; 96,698 Non-Government enrolments. Victoria 644,475 Government student enrolments; 361,997 Non-Government enrolments. Tasmania 56,973 Government student enrolments; 25,042 Non-Government enrolments. Australian Capital Territory 45,647 Government student enrolments; 28,582 Non-Government enrolments. New South Wales 810,705 Government student enrolments; 431,257 Non-Government enrolments. Queensland 573,923 Government student enrolments; 283,997 Non-Government enrolments.

Retention rates

In 2020

  • the Year 7 to 12 full-time apparent retention rate for Australia remained relatively steady at 83.6%, compared to 84.0% in 2019
  • the retention rate for females (88.0%) was higher than for males (79.3%)
  • independent schools had the highest retention rate (93.6%), followed by government schools (81.4%) then Catholic schools (81.2%)
  • South Australia had the highest retention rate at 92.7%, and the Northern Territory had the lowest retention rate at 57.8%

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

In 2020

  • there were 240,180 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in Australian schools, 4.1% more than in 2019
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students accounted for 6.0% of all students
  • the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were enrolled in government schools (83.4%)
  • the Northern Territory had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at 39.0%
  • the Year 7 to 12 full-time apparent retention rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students was 59.6%, a slight increase from 58.7% in 2019


In 2020

  • there were 9,542 schools in Australia, a net increase of 39 schools since 2019 (16 government, 17 independent and 6 Catholic schools)
  • Queensland reported the largest increase in total school counts (15 schools), followed by Western Australia (11 schools) and Victoria (7 schools)
Table 2. School counts by state and territory, 2019-2020



In 2020

  • there were 296,516 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff in Australian schools, of which 83,532 were male and 212,985 were female
  • there were 152,281 teachers in primary schools, and 143,695 teachers in secondary schools
  • there was a higher proportion of male teachers in secondary schools (38.9%) than primary schools (18.1%)


The student to teaching staff ratio for all schools was 13.5 students to one teacher, and was higher in primary schools (14.8 students to one teacher) than secondary schools (12.1 students to one teacher).

Independent schools had a lower student to teacher ratio (11.8 students to one teacher) than Catholic schools (13.7 students to one teacher) and government schools (13.9 students to one teacher).

Data downloads

Table 32a Non-special Schools by Primary Enrolment, 2004-2020

Table 33a Non-special Schools by Secondary Enrolment, 2004-2020

Table 35b Counts of all Schools, 2010-2020

Table 36a Non-special Schools by Enrolment Size Ranges, 2015-2020

Table 42b Number of Full-time and Part-time Students, 2006-2020

Table 43a Full-time Equivalent Students, 2006-2020

Table 46a Students (FTE) by ASGS Remoteness Indicator, 2020

Table 50a In-school Staff (Number), 2006-2020

Table 51a In-school Staff (FTE), 2006-2020

Table 53a Student (FTE) to Teaching Staff (FTE) Ratios, 2006-2020

Table 57a Out-of-school Staff (Number and FTE), 2015-2020

Table 62a Capped Apparent Continuation Rates, 2011-2020

Table 63a Capped Apparent Retention Rates by Single Year (Grade), 2011-2020

Table 64a Capped Apparent Retention Rates, 2011-2020

Table 64b Capped Apparent Retention Rates (FTE), 2013-2020

Table 66a Capped School Participation Rates for Students Aged 6-19 Years, 2011-2020

Table 67a Consolidated Student Rates, 2011-2020

Table 90a Key Information, by States and Territories, 2019 to 2020

All Data Cubes

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4221.0.

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