Report on Government Services 2021
Part B, section 4: RELEASED ON 2 FEBRUARY 2021
4 School education
This section is presented in a new online format. Dynamic data visualisations replace the static chapter format used in previous editions. Machine readable data are also available for download. A guide is available on accessing information in the new format.
Impact of COVID-19 on data for the School education section
COVID-19 may affect data in this Report in a number of ways. This includes in respect of actual performance (that is, the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery in 2020 which is reflected in the data results), and the collection and processing of data (that is, the ability of data providers to undertake data collection and process results for inclusion in the Report).
For the School education section, there has been some impact on the data that is attributable to COVID-19 but this has not affected the comparability of any indicators. These impacts are primarily due to the social distancing restrictions implemented in March 2020 and associated economic downturn, which may have affected 2020 data for the post school destination indicator. Data for 2020 for the Student outcomes (national testing) indicator are not available as NAPLAN testing was not performed in 2020 due to COVID-19. Data for 2020 for the Attendance and participation and Attendance and participation by target group indicators were collected but were not available for reporting due to the impact of COVID-19.
This section focuses on performance information for government-funded school education in Australia.
The Indicator Results tab uses data from the data tables to provide information on the performance for each indicator in the Indicator Framework. The same data are also available in CSV format.
- Indicator Framework
- Indicator Results
- Indigenous Data
Objectives for School education
Australian schooling aims for all young Australians to become successful lifelong learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed members of the community positioning them to transition to further study and/or work and successful lives. It aims for students to improve academic achievement and excel by international standards.
To meet this vision, the school education system aims to:
- engage all students and promote student participation
- deliver high quality teaching of a world-class curriculum.
Governments aim for school education services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.
The vision and objectives align with the educational goals in the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration (EC 2019) and the National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) (COAG 2018).
Schooling aims to provide education for all young people. The structure of school education varies across states and territories.
Compulsory school education
Entry to school education is compulsory for all children in all states and territories, although the child age entry requirements vary by jurisdiction (ABS 2020). In 2019, minimum starting ages generally restrict enrolment to children aged between four-and-a-half and five years at the beginning of the year (ABS 2020). (See section 3, interpretative material, for more details.)
National mandatory requirements for schooling — as agreed in the National Youth Participation Requirement (NYPR) — came into effect through relevant State and Territory government legislation in 2010. Under the NYPR, all young people must participate in schooling until they complete year 10; and if they have completed year 10, in full time education, training or employment (or combination of these) until 17 years of age (COAG 2009). Some State and Territory governments have extended these requirements for their jurisdiction.
Type and level of school education
Schools are the institutions within which organised school education takes place (see sub-section 4.2, interpretative material, for a definition of ‘school’) and are differentiated by the type and level of education they provide:
- Primary schools provide education from the first year of primary school — known as the ‘foundation year’ in the Australian Curriculum (see sub-section 4.2, interpretative material, for the naming conventions used in each state and territory). Primary school education extends to year 6 (year 7 in SA until 2022 when it will be high school). (Prior to 2015, primary school education also extended to year 7 in Queensland and WA.)
- Secondary schools provide education from the end of primary school to year 12
- Special schools provide education for students that exhibit one or more of the following characteristics before enrolment: mental or physical disability or impairment; slow learning ability; social or emotional problems; or in custody, on remand or in hospital (ABS 2020).
Affiliation, ownership and management
Schools can also be differentiated by their affiliation, ownership and management, which are presented for two broad categories:
- Government schools are owned and managed by State and Territory governments
- Non-government schools, including Catholic and Independent schools, are owned and managed by non-government establishments.
Roles and responsibilities
State and Territory governments are responsible for ensuring the delivery and regulation of schooling to all children of school age in their jurisdiction. State and Territory governments provide most of the school education funding in Australia, which is administered under their own legislation. They determine curricula, register schools, regulate school activities and are directly responsible for the administration of government schools. They also provide support services used by both government and non-government schools. Non-government schools operate under conditions determined by State and Territory government registration authorities.
From 1 January 2018 the Australian Government introduced the Quality Schools Package replacing the Students First funding model which had been in effect since 1 January 2014. States and territories will also contribute funding under the Quality schools Package. More information on these funding arrangements can be found in box 4.6 of the supporting interpretative material.
The Australian Government and State and Territory governments work together to progress and implement national policy priorities, such as: a national curriculum; national statistics and reporting; national testing; and, teaching standards (PM&C 2014). The Education Council — comprising the Australian, State and Territory education ministers and the New Zealand education minister (as a non-decision making member) — is the principal forum for developing national priorities and strategies for schooling.
Nationally in 2018-19, government recurrent expenditure on school education was $65.6 billion, a 4.3 per cent real increase from 2017-18 (table 4A.10). State and Territory governments provided the majority of funding (69.7 per cent) (figure 4.1).
Government schools accounted for $49.7 billion (75.8 per cent), with State and Territory governments the major funding source ($42.0 billion, or 84.4 per cent of government schools’ funding). Non-government schools accounted for $15.9 billion (24.2 per cent), with the Australian Government the major funding source ($12.1 billion, or 76.2 per cent of non-government schools funding) (table 4A.10).
The share of government funding to government and non-government schools varies across jurisdictions and over time according to jurisdictional approaches to funding schools (see box 4.6 in interpretative material) and is affected by the characteristics of school structures and the student body in each state and territory.
This Report presents expenditure related to government funding only, not to the full cost to the community of providing school education. Caution should be taken when comparing expenditure data for government and non-government schools, because governments provide only part of school funding. Governments provided 58.6 per cent of non-government school funding in 2019, with the remaining 41.4 per cent sourced from private fees and fund raising (Australian Government Department of Education unpublished).
Size and scope
In 2019, there were 9503 schools in Australia (6245 primary schools, 1416 secondary schools, 1359 combined schools, and 483 special schools) (table 4A.1). The majority of schools were government owned and managed (70.1 per cent) (tables 4A.1).
Settlement patterns (population dispersion), the age distribution of the population and educational policy influence the distribution of schools by size and level in different jurisdictions. Data on school size and level are in Schools Australia, 2019 (ABS 2020).
There were 3.9 million full time equivalent (FTE) students enrolled in school nationally in 2019 (table 4A.3). Whilst the majority of students are full time, there were 10 619 part time students in 2019 (predominantly in secondary schools) (ABS 2020).
- Government schools had 2.6 million FTE students enrolled (65.7 per cent of all FTE students). Over the past seven years this proportion has increased from 65.1 per cent (in 2012) (table 4A.3).
- Non-government schools had 1.4 million FTE students enrolled (34.3 per cent of all FTE students).
- The proportion of students enrolled in government schools is higher for primary schools than secondary schools (table 4A.3).
A higher proportion of FTE students were enrolled in primary schools (57.4 per cent) than in secondary schools (42.6 per cent) (table 4A.3). SA has the highest proportion of FTE students enrolled in primary school education (60.6 per cent) as it is the only jurisdiction that still includes year 7 in primary school.
The enrolment rate is close to 100 per cent for Australian children aged 15 years (consistent with requirements under the NYPR), but decreases as ages increase. Nationally in 2019, 99.0 per cent of Australian children aged 15 years were enrolled at school, declining to 93.8 per cent of 16 year olds and 77.6 per cent of 17 year olds. Data are available for 15–19 year olds by single year of age and totals in table 4A.4.
Nationally in 2019, government schools had a higher proportion of students from selected special needs groups than non-government schools, including for:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students — 7.4 per cent of government school students and 2.8 per cent of non-government school students (table 4A.5)
- students from a low socio-educational background — 30.5 per cent of government school students and 12.8 per cent of non-government school students (table 4A.6)
- geographically remote and very remote students — 2.3 per cent of government school students and 1.0 per cent of non-government school students (table 4A.8).
For students with disability, 20.5 per cent, 17.9 per cent, and 19.5 per cent of students at government, Catholic, and independent schools, respectively, required an education adjustment due to disability (table 4A.7). Data by level of adjustment are in table 4A.7.
School and Vocational Education and Training (VET)
School-aged people may participate in VET by either participating in ‘VET in Schools’, or (see section 5) remain engaged in education through a Registered Training Organisation. Nationally in 2019, there were 235 800 VET in Schools students (NCVER 2020). Overall, 407 500 people aged 15–19 years successfully completed at least one unit of competency as part of a VET qualification at the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate II level or above (at a school or Registered Training Organisation) (table 4A.9).
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2020, Schools Australia, 2019, Cat. no. 4221.0, Canberra.
ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) 2019, NAPLAN Achievement in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy: National Report for 2019 , ACARA, Sydney.
ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research) 2019, PISA 2018: Reporting Australia’s Results. Volume I Student Performance, ACER Australia.
—— 2018, PISA Australia in Focus: Number 1 – Sense of belonging at school, ACER, Australia.
—— 2017, PIRLS 2016: Reporting Australia’s results, ACER, Melbourne.
COAG 2018, National School Reform Agreement, https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/national_school_reform_agreement_9_0.pdf (accessed 9 October 2020).
—— 2009, COAG Meeting Communique April 2009, https://www.coag.gov.au/meeting-outcomes/coag-meeting-communique-30-april-2009 (accessed 21 November 2019).
EC (Education Council) 2019, Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration, http://www.educationcouncil.edu.au/Alice-Springs--Mparntwe--Education-Declaration.aspx (accessed 9 October 2020).
NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) 2020, VET in Schools 2019, Adelaide.
PM&C (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet) 2014, Roles and responsibilities in education, Part A: Early Childhood and Schools, Reform of Federation White Issues Paper 4, Canberra.
The performance indicator framework provides information on equity, efficiency and effectiveness, and distinguishes the outputs and outcomes of School education.
The performance indicator framework shows which data are complete and comparable in this Report. For data that are not considered directly comparable, text includes relevant caveats and supporting commentary. Section 1 discusses data comparability and completeness from a Report-wide perspective. In addition to the service area's Profile information, the Report’s statistical context (Section 2) contains data that may assist in interpreting the performance indicators presented in this section.
Improvements to performance reporting for School education are ongoing and include identifying data sources to fill gaps in reporting for performance indicators and measures, and improving the comparability and completeness of data.
Outputs are the services delivered (while outcomes are the impact of these services on the status of an individual or group) (see section 1). Output information is also critical for equitable, efficient and effective management of government services.
Outcomes are the impact of services on the status of an individual or group (see section 1).
An overview of the school education services performance indicator results are presented. Different delivery contexts, locations and types of clients can affect the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of school education services.
Information to assist the interpretation of these data can be found in the school education supporting interpretative material and data tables. Data tables are identified by a ‘4A’ prefix (for example, table 4A.1).
All data are available for download as an excel spreadsheet and as a CSV dataset — refer to Download supporting material. Specific data used in figures can be downloaded by clicking in the figure area, navigating to the bottom of the visualisation to the grey toolbar, clicking on the 'Download' icon and selecting 'Data' from the menu. Selecting 'PDF' or 'Powerpoint' from the 'Download' menu will download a static view of the performance indicator results.
Performance indicator data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this section are available in the data tables listed below. Further supporting information can be found in the interpretative material and data tables.
|Table number||Table title|
|Table 4A.18||Student attendance rates, government schools, by Indigenous status (per cent)|
|Table 4A.19||Student attendance rates, non-government schools, by Indigenous status (per cent)|
|Table 4A.20||Student attendance rates, all schools, by Indigenous status (per cent)|
|Table 4A.21||Student attendance rates, by Indigenous status and remoteness (per cent)|
|Table 4A.22||Student attendance level, government schools, by Indigenous status (per cent)|
|Table 4A.23||Student attendance level, non-government schools, by Indigenous status (per cent)|
|Table 4A.24||Student attendance level, by Indigenous status and remoteness (per cent)|
|Table 4A.26||PISA Sense of Belong at School Index, by special needs group|
|Table 4A.27||Apparent retention rates of full time secondary students, all schools (per cent)|
|Table 4A.28||Apparent retention rates of full time secondary students, government schools (per cent)|
|Table 4A.29||Apparent retention rates of full time secondary students, non-government schools (per cent)|
|Student outcomes (National testing)|
|Table 4A.30||NAPLAN reading: Proportion of students who achieved at or above the national minimum standard, by Indigenous status and geolocation (per cent)|
|Table 4A.31||NAPLAN reading: Mean scores, by Indigenous status and geolocation (score points)|
|Table 4A.34||NAPLAN writing: Proportion of students who achieved at or above the national minimum standard, by Indigenous status and geolocation (per cent)|
|Table 4A.35||NAPLAN writing: Mean scores, by Indigenous status and geolocation (score points)|
|Table 4A.38||NAPLAN numeracy: Proportion of students who achieved at or above the national minimum standard, by Indigenous status and geolocation (per cent)|
|Table 4A.39||NAPLAN numeracy: Mean scores, by Indigenous status and geolocation (score points)|
|Table 4A.44||National Assessment Program, proportion of Year 6 students at or above proficient standard in science achievement performance, by equity group, Australia|
|Table 4A.47||National Assessment Program, proportion of students at or above proficient standard in civics and citizenship achievement performance, by equity group, Australia|
|Table 4A.50||National Assessment Program, information and communication technologies: proportion of students attaining the proficient standard, by equity group, Australia|
|Student outcomes (International testing)|
|Table 4A.51||Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reading literacy assessment|
|Table 4A.52||Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) mathematical literacy assessment|
|Table 4A.53||Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scientific literacy assessment|
Download supporting material
- 4 School education interpretative material (PDF - 555 Kb)
- 4 School education interpretative material (Word - 81 Kb)
- 4 School education data tables (XLSX - 873 Kb)
- 4 School education dataset (CSV - 2364 Kb)
See the interpretative material and corresponding table number in the data tables for detailed definitions, caveats, footnotes and data source(s).