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4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2011 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/02/2012   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


    INTRODUCTION

    1 Schools, Australia(cat. no. 4221.0) is drawn from the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) managed by the ABS and contains statistics for schools, students and staff as at the schools census date. For 2011, the schools census date was Friday 5th August.

    2 Schools, Australia(cat. no. 4221.0) is an annual publication of data on schools, students and in-school staff involved in the provision, or administration, of primary and secondary education, in government and non-government schools, for all Australian states and territories.

    3 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 or Independent). Schools, students and staff may be further subcategorised, and for information on how these data may be subcategorised see: About this Release.

    4 These data are sourced from the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) (non-finance), which is a joint undertaking of the various state and territory departments of education, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA). The scope of the collection is bound by the definitions of schools, students and staff which are available on request in the ABS Notes, Instructions and Tabulations (NIT) document. See also the Glossary of this publication.

    5 This publication draws extensively on information provided freely by state and territory departments with responsibility for school education and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). Their continued co-operation enables the ABS to publish a wide range of education statistics.

    SCOPE AND COVERAGE

    6 The statistics in this publication relate only to establishments, students and staff within the scope of the NSSC, and exclude school-level education conducted by other institutions, in particular Technical and Further Education (TAFE) establishments.

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

    8 Statistics for the non-government series relate to all in-scope establishments not administered by the departments of education in the states and territories.

    9 Data for the non-government series are reported by schools through the Schools Service Point, which is managed by DEEWR to assist in administering the Schools Assistance Act 2008. This data is then collated by DEEWR and a subset is provided to the ABS for the National Schools Statistics Collection.

    10 Education services in Jervis Bay Territory are provided by the Australian Capital Territory Department of Education and Training, using Australian government funding. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for Jervis Bay Territory are included in statistics for the Australian Capital Territory.

    11 Emergency and relief teaching staff who are employed on a casual basis are not included in this collection, as they replace permanent teaching staff who are absent for short periods of time and are already counted.

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

    DATA COMPARABILITY

    CHANGES IN 2011 AFFECTING DATA COMPARABILITY

    13 For 2011, Indigenous status is subcategorised by Indigenous and Other. The term Other includes Non-Indigenous responses and Not Stated responses to Indigenous status. Other replaces the term Non-Indigenous used in previous publications and can be used in time series reporting with previous Non-Indigenous data. Refer to the Explanatory Notes for changes over time which may affect the comparability of data by Indigenous status.

    14 The Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development continued programs, implemented in 2010, to increase identification of Indigenous status in government schools. This has resulted in a decrease of Not Stated responses from 2010 to 2011, in addition to the decreases recorded from 2009 to 2010. This may affect comparisons of students by Indigenous status for 2011 to 2010, and 2011 and 2010 to previous years.

    15 The Queensland Department of Education and Training noted that improvements in the response to identification of Indigenous status in government schools have resulted in a reduction of Not Stated responses by half from the previous year. This may affect comparisons of students by Indigenous status for 2011 to previous years.

    16 The South Australian Department for Education and Child Development identified and removed re-entry students from the government NSSC counts. These students were undertaking Year 11 and 12 subjects; but were not completing Year 12 certification (SACE). These students were typically part-time and mature aged. This may affect comparisons of students with previous years.

    17 The South Australian Department for Education and Child Development changed the unit of measure for a student’s workload. In 2011 the workload for Year 11 and 12 students was measured in hours, where previously it was measured by number of South Australia Certificate of Education (SACE) subjects being studied. This may affect comparisons of full-time equivalent values and students by attendance status with previous years.

    18 In 2011 some Western Australian non-government schools transitioned Year 7 from primary school to secondary school. In all government schools Year 7 remained a component of primary school. For the purposes of reporting in Schools, Australia, 2011 Year 7 is treated as primary school for all schools in Western Australia (government and non-government). As students may commence non-government schooling in the first Year of secondary school, this may affect comparisons between students attending government and non-government schools in Western Australia for 2011.

    19 In 2011 Tasmania made refinements to the post-Year 10 system that was introduced in 2009. Processes were undertaken, by the Department of Education, to ensure that data provided complied with the collection definitions. See paragraph 24, for further details.

    20 In the Northern Territory the Department of Education and Training were better able to identify and remove staff working in the early childhood sector from NSSC counts of staff for government data. This may affect comparisons of staff data with previous years.

    21 As in previous years, a number of states and territories have had programs resulting in the amalgamation of some schools. Through these amalgamations, two or more schools merge to make one school, though often remain separate physical entities. These amalgamations cause a reduction in the school counts collected in the NSSC, and probably result in a changed profile of school characteristics (e.g. if a primary and a secondary school amalgamate, the two schools become one and would be reported as a combined school, and the amalgamated school’s enrolment size would be reported as the sum of the enrolments). Where amalgamations have occurred they may affect comparisons of schools counts and characteristics with those for previous years. For more information on specific programs on management of schools please refer to the relevant state or territory department website.

    CHANGES IN 2010 AFFECTING DATA COMPARABILITY

    22 In 2010, Western Australia, a number of part-time, mature age, ungraded secondary students in government schools were in scope in 2008, deemed to be out of scope in 2009 and deemed in scope again in 2010. This may affect comparisons involving these students for 2009 with other years.

    23 In 2010, South Australia, the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) changed the prescribed minimum full-time load from previous years. In 2010 the revised SACE was introduced to Stage 1 (Year 11) and will be introduced at Stage 2 (Year 12) in 2011. This may affect comparisons of full-time and part-time student breakdowns with previous years.

    CHANGES PRIOR TO 2010 AFFECTING DATA COMPARABILITY

    24 In 2011 there were refinements to the system whereby two of the statutory organisations were abolished (the Tasmania Academy and the Tasmanian Polytechnic) and the institutions brought under the authority of the Tasmania Department of Education (TDE). Census data from the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Academy were combined with TDE data to provide the NSSC submission for Tasmanian government schools. TDE undertook a process to ensure that the data provided to the NSSC complied as fully as possible with the collection definitions. It should be noted the restructure away from a fully separate VET and school system has created scope difficulties in regard to the Tasmanian Polytechnic. Tasmania now includes 16-19 year old Polytechnic students who are on a Tasmanian Certificate of Education pathway in the NSSC collection in addition to the Tasmanian Academy students.

    25 In 2009, Tasmanian education underwent a significant restructure of education post Year 10. This reform, entitled Tasmania Tomorrow, created three new statutory organisations (the Tasmanian Academy, the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Skills Institute) from the merger of state government colleges (Years 11 and 12) and TAFE Tasmania. As a result, in 2009 four of Tasmania's eight government colleges, along with TAFE Tasmania, were restructured and brought under the authority of the Tasmanian Academy and the Tasmanian Polytechnic. The four remaining colleges continued under the authority of the Tasmanian Department of Education (TDE) and will transition to the new structure by 2012. Census data from the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Academy were combined with TDE data to provide the NSSC submission for Tasmanian government schools. TDE undertook a process of data collection, cleaning, reconciliation and application of scope to ensure that the data provided to the NSSC fully complied with collection definitions.

    26 In 2009, improvements were made to the student enrolment data collection process for government schools in the Northern Territory. This enabled better identification of duplicate student records, which were removed. This change will affect comparisons with previous years of all data showing numbers of students or drawing on these numbers for the Northern Territory and Australia.

    27 In 2008, Year 7 became the first year of secondary education in the Northern Territory where previously it was the last Year of primary education. Changes will affect comparisons of student numbers by Year (grade) and School Level from 2008 to years prior to 2008. This will also affect the calculation of apparent retention rates. The base Year for calculating the apparent retention rate will use Year 7 instead of Year 8 for the first time for apparent retention rates:

  • 7/8 to 9 in 2010
  • 7/8 to 10 in 2011
  • 7/8 to 11 in 2012
  • 7/8 to 12 in 2013.

    28 In 2008 the school leaving age in Western Australia was raised from 16 years to 17 years, unless the person was in alternative training or in approved employment. Care should be taken when drawing on numbers for student data as these changes affect comparisons with previous years.

    29 In 2007, Queensland introduced a formal Pre-year 1 (Preparatory). In that year, around two-thirds of the expected cohort was enrolled. In 2008, 95% of the expected cohort was enrolled in Pre-year 1. In 2010 the two thirds cohort was in Year 3.

    30 In 2006, Western Australia raised the school leaving age to 16. This may affect comparisons of measures of secondary engagement post 2006 with years prior to 2006.

    31 In 2003 the majority of students in a small number of Western Australian colleges fell out-of-scope of the NSSC and were reclassified as belonging to the vocational education and training sector. The removal of these students in 2003 may affect comparisons of breakdowns of students by Year (grade) and apparent retention rates with previous years.

    32 In 2002 Pre-year 1 in Western Australia was extended to five days a week bringing these students within the scope of the NSSC. This may affect comparisons of Pre-year 1 students and total numbers of students with previous years.

    33 In 2002, Western Australia changed the age at which children may commence Pre-year 1. Prior to 2002, students could commence Pre-year 1 if they were turning five at any time in the year they intended to commence Pre-year 1. From 2002, children must be turning five by 30 June in the year they intended to commence Pre-year 1. This resulted in a two thirds cohort entering the school system in 2002. In 2011 this cohort is in Year 9.

    34 In 1993 changes in the admissions policy for Tasmanian schools resulted in an upward movement in the age profile of students commencing school in that year relative to years prior to 1993. The change in age profile commencing school has continued in all subsequent years since, moving progressively through the Years (grades), and from 2005 onwards represented a significant increase in the participation rate of 18 year olds.

    CENSUS DATE

    35 The census date for the collection, for all states and territories, and all affiliations (sectors), is the first Friday in August each year. For 2011 the census data was 5 August.

    AGE REFERENCE DATE

    36 The age reference date for students is 1 July.

    SOURCE DATA

    37 These statistics are compiled from collections conducted by the state and territory departments of education (government series) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) (non-government series) in co-operation with the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

    METHODOLOGY

    38 The methodologies employed in compiling the government sector data vary between the different state and territory departments of education. Data may be accessed from central administrative records or collected directly from education establishments.

    39 DEEWR collects data directly from 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.

    40 In 2010, Tasmania and Australia Capital Territory providers of government data provided unit record level data for these statistics. This followed studies conducted by the ABS demonstrating that no break in series would occur by using unit record level data. The collection methods for the relevant departments were similar to those used for their aggregate submissions in previous years.

    SCHOOLS OVER TIME

    41 The number of schools in a particular year may vary due to decisions affecting structural changes in the composition of schooling. A number of schools of the same level may amalgamate into a multi-campus school, for example primary schools and secondary schools may merge to create Pre-Year 1 to Year 12 schools, secondary schools may split to create middle schools and senior secondary schools, or schools may fall in or out of scope based on changes in the major activity at the establishment. Each scenario may affect the number of schools reported year to year.

    INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS

    42 In interpreting the figures in this publication, users should be aware that comparability of statistics between states and territories, and between government and non-government schools in any one state or territory, may be affected by differences in age/grade structure, policy on student intake and advancement, flow from secondary to vocational education, and the recruitment and employment of teachers.

    43 Relatively small changes in the absolute numbers of a population can create large movements in rates and ratios. These populations might include smaller states and territories, Indigenous students, subcategories of the non-government affiliation and cross tabulated characteristics.

    44 There is no Australia-wide standard method of allocating students and classes to a certain Year (grade) of school education. A number of schools (other than special schools) do not maintain a formal age/grade structure. Where possible, students at these schools have been allocated to equivalent Years by relevant education authorities, but otherwise appear against the ungraded category in either the primary or secondary level of school education.

    45 The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used in the calculation of some measures of secondary engagement in this publication. It is used to attempt to account for movements in population, such as migration. Where ERP is used, it is utilised as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the population.

    46 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 annually using information on births, deaths and internal migration provided by state and federal government departments. See ABS Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories (cat. no. 3201.0) for further details.

    APPARENT RETENTION RATE (ARR)

    47 This provides an indicative measure of the number of school students who have stayed in school, as at a designated Year (grade) and year of education. It is expressed as a percentage of the respective cohort group against the cohort that those students would be expected to have come from, assuming an expected rate of progression of one Year per year.

    48 The Year (grade) of commencement of secondary school varies between states and territories and over time. Rates that use the Year of commencement of secondary school as the base Year may use a different base Year 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 Year and year the rate is calculated from. These variations are incorporated into calculation of rates at the Australia level. See Data Comparability for more information.

    49 In 2008, the structure of schooling in the Northern Territory changed with the commencement of secondary schooling moving from Year 8 to Year 7. As a result of the change in structure, the cohort entering Year 8 in 2008 commenced its first Year of secondary education in the second Year of secondary education offered under the new system. For the calculation of rates based on the commencement of secondary school, the first Year of secondary education undertaken by the cohort is used as the base, which is Year 8 for the cohort above, while all later cohorts will have rates calculated based on the year the cohorts were expected to have been in Year 7. For the Northern Territory Year 8 is the base Year for apparent retention rates for Year 7/8 to Year 10 for 2010 and earlier and Year 7 will be the base Year for apparent retention rates for Year 7/8 to 10 from 2011 on. This may affect comparisons with previous rates.

    50 Although apparent retention rates allow comparisons by affiliation and Indigenous status, care should be exercised in the interpretation of apparent retention rates as the method of calculation does not take into account a range of factors including:

  • students progressing at a faster or slower than expected rate of one Year (grade) per 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).

    51 Other factors that may affect comparability of rates are:

  • variation in the number of students leaving school to undertake alternative education and training pathways, such as vocational education and training
  • variation in the minimum workload for a full-time student.

    52 In small populations, relatively small changes in student numbers can create large movements in apparent retention rates. These populations might include smaller states and territories, Indigenous students and subcategories of the non-government affiliation. Changes in such factors outlined in the previous paragraph may be more noticeable in these populations.

    SCHOOL PARTICIPATION RATE (SPR)

    53 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 who are at school.

    54 In some states and territories, such as the Australian Capital Territory, some rates exceed 100%. This is mainly due to the enrolment of students in ACT schools who are not residents of the ACT, but who live in surrounding New South Wales regions. This has a larger effect on the ACT rates then the NSW rates because of the relative sizes of the populations. This is referred to as cross-border enrolment.

    55 Some students from overseas enter Australia on a short-term visa (less than 12 months) and are not considered Australian residents for the purposes of the Estimated Resident Population (ERP), although they are counted in the NSSC. The effect of these students is likely to be negligible.

    56 Non-participation in school education is not included in this publication as it cannot be accurately calculated by the difference between NSSC student counts and ERP data. ERP data is an estimate, based on usual residence within a defined state or territory boundary, whereas NSSC data may include students who cross those boundaries to attend school.

    APPARENT CONTINUATION RATE (ACR)

    57 This is a measure of the proportion of an age group of students (full-time and part-time) who have continued from one 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 population age cohort in the previous year.

    58 In calculating the ACR for the sum of a variable (such as sex or state and territory), weights have been introduced to allow for the different proportions that each component item contributes to the total.

    59 For example, an ACR for Australia is produced by weighting the proportion of students in each state and territory in the overall composition of Australia. If students in state X comprise 24% of all students in Australia in a given cohort, and students in state Y comprise 2.4% of the same cohort, then the ACR of state X students will be weighted 10 times more heavily than the ACR of state Y students when it comes to averaging each state's ACR to calculate the total for Australia.

    60 The ACR includes both full-time and part-time students, and is adjusted to factor in changes in the population. Other factors unaccounted for in the ARR similarly affect the ACR.

    61 Unlike the ARR, the ACR is not able to provide breakdowns by Indigenous status or Affiliation. For more information see: Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education published in Schools, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4221.0), released on 28th September 2010.

    APPARENT PROGRESSION RATE (APR)

    62 This is a measure of the proportion of a cohort of full-time students that moves from one Year (grade) to the next Year at an expected rate of one Year per year.

    63 In calculating the APR for the sum of a variable (such as sex or state and territory), weights have been introduced to allow for the different proportions that each component item contributes to the total.

    64 For example, an APR for Australia is produced by weighting the proportion of students in each state and territory in the overall composition of Australia. If students in state X comprise 24% of all students in Australia in a given cohort, and students in state Y comprise 2.4% of the same cohort, then the APR of state X students will be weighted 10 times more heavily than the APR of state Y students when it comes to averaging each state's APR to calculate the national total.

    65 The APR is adjusted to factor in changes in the population. Other factors unaccounted for in the ARR similarly affect the APR. Unlike the ARR, the APR cannot provide breakdowns by Indigenous status or Affiliation. For more information see: Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education published in Schools, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4221.0), released on 28th September 2010.

    CALCULATIONS

    66 The formulae used for the calculation of School Participation Rates, Apparent Continuation Rates and Apparent Progression Rates (labelled Apparent Grade Progression Rates in the paper) 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), released on 14th December 2006.

    FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT (FTE) STUDENT/TEACHING STAFF RATIOS

    67 FTE Student to Teaching Staff ratios are calculated by dividing the number of FTE students by the number of FTE teaching staff. These 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.

    RELATED PUBLICATIONS AND PRODUCTS

    68 Note that in 2010, the Schools, Australia, Preliminary publication (cat. no. 4220.0) was discontinued.

    69 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to Schools, Australia users are:

  • Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0) - issued annually, latest issue May 2010 released in November 2010.
  • Education and Training Experience, Australia (cat. no. 6278.0) - issued irregularly, latest issue 2009 released in March 2010.
  • Research Paper: Deriving Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education from the National Schools Statistics Collection (cat. no. 1351.0.55.016), released on 14th December 2006.

    70 Additional information can be found in publications produced by ABS offices in each state and territory, various publications of DEEWR, MCEECDYA, ACARA, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, the education chapter of the annual Report on Government Services, in annual reports of the various state and territory departments of education, and in annual reports of the various non-government affiliated offices or licensing authorities.

    71 Education & Training has a theme page on the ABS web site for the dissemination of information: <http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/c311215.nsf/web/Education+and+Training>.

    72 Statistics available through the ABS are listed on the website at: <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/webpages/statistics?opendocument>.

    73 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which outlines upcoming releases at: <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/webpages/ABS+Release+Advice>.



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