Note on Terms:
The majority of data reported in the National Report on Schooling 2010 is sourced from the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC)
. The school census date for the collection, for all States and Territories and all school sectors (affiliations), is the first Friday in August each year. The NSSC is a joint undertaking of the Australian 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). Definitions of terms in this glossary are, for the most part, quoted or adapted from the NSSC Glossary and the ABS Notes, Instructions and Tabulations
(NIT) document which is available on request from the ABS.
Estimated Resident Population
The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the population. 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.
Full-time equivalent teaching staff
The full-time equivalent (FTE) value is a measure of the level of staffing resources used. All full-time staff, engaged solely on activities that fall within the scope of the National Schools Statistics Collection, have an FTE value of 1.0. All FTE values are rounded to one decimal place.
For staff not employed on a full-time basis, and/or engaged in a combination of in-scope and out-of-scope activities, the FTE value is calculated on the basis of the proportion of time spent on in-scope activities compared with the time that would be spent by a full-time staff member engaged solely on in-scope activities. Allocations of less than 0.1 FTE are ignored.
Some States and Territories are not able to calculate FTE values on a time-spent basis for all staff functions but 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.
Full-time equivalent student
A full-time student is one who undertakes a workload equivalent to or greater than that prescribed for a full-time student of that year level. This may vary between States and Territories and from year to year.
A part-time student is one who undertakes a workload less than that specified as full-time. The full-time equivalent (FTE) value of part-time students is calculated by dividing the student's workload into that which is considered to be a full workload by that State or Territory. Part-time secondary student estimates may vary between States and Territories due to different policy and organisational arrangements.
The full-time equivalent (FTE) of students is calculated by adding the number of full-time students and the full-time equivalent (FTE) value of part-time students.
Level of education
All States and Territories provide for 13 years of formal school education. Typically, schooling commences at age five, is compulsory from age six until at least age 15, and is completed at age 17 or 18. Primary education, including a preparatory year¹, lasts for either seven or eight years and is followed by secondary education of six or five years respectively.
For national reporting purposes, primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 6 in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. For national reporting purposes, primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 7 in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
Junior secondary includes the years from commencement of secondary school to Year 10, including ungraded secondary.
Senior secondary education comprises Years 11 and 12 in all States and Territories.
Students attending special schools are allocated to either primary or secondary education on the basis of grade or school level where identified. Where the grade or school level is not identified, students are allocated to primary or secondary level of education according to the typical age level in each State or Territory. (See below for definition of special schools.)
Combined schools include both primary and secondary students.
Major function of staff
In some tables, staff have been categorised according to their major function, which is based on the duties in which they spend the majority of their time.
The functional categories for school staff are as follows:
(a) Teaching staff are staff who spend the majority of their time in contact with students. They support students either by direct class contact or on an individual basis, and are engaged to impart school curriculum. For the purposes of this report, teaching staff includes principals, deputy principals, campus principals and senior teachers mainly involved in administration. Teacher aides and assistants, and specialist support staff are excluded, except assistant teachers working in Homeland Learning Centres and Community Schools in the Northern Territory.
(b) Specialist support staff are staff who perform functions to support students or teaching staff. While these staff may spend the majority of their time in contact with students, they are not engaged to impart the school curriculum.
(c) Administrative and clerical staff are staff whose main duties are generally of a clerical/administrative nature. Teacher aides and assistants are included in this category, as they are seen to provide services to teaching staff rather than directly to students.
(d) Building operations, general maintenance and other staff are staff involved in the maintenance of buildings and grounds. Also included are staff providing associated technical services and janitorial staff.
The functional categories for staff not generally active in schools are as follows:
(a) Executive staff are staff generally undertaking senior administrative functions that are broader than those of a secondary school principal. Executive staff salaries generally exceed those of a secondary school principal.
(b) Specialist support staff are staff who manage or are engaged in curriculum development and research activities, assisting with teaching resources, staff development, student support services and teacher support services.
(c) Administrative and clerical staff are staff whose main duties are of a clerical/administrative nature. This category includes office staff, publicity staff and information technology staff in state and regional offices.
(d) Building operations, general maintenance and other staff are staff involved in the maintenance of buildings, grounds etc. Also included are staff providing associated technical services and janitorial staff.
National Schools Statistics Collection
The scope of the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) includes all establishments:
administered by departments of school education under the control of directors-general of education (or equivalent) as defined by membership of the Conference of Education Systems Chief Executive Officers (CESCEO)
administered by any other government authority.
The two main sections of the NSSC are:
non-finance statistics (numbers of schools, students and staff) collected for both government and non-government schools and published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its annual Schools, Australia (Cat. No. 4221.0) publication
finance statistics (expenditure on salaries and non-salary costs collected for government schools) published by ACARA in the National Report on Schooling in Australia. Reports prior to 2009 were published by MCEECDYA.
See Level of education
A school is an education establishment that 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.
It is possible for students to enrol for a minimum of four continuous weeks, excluding breaks for school vacations.
The term ‘school’ in this publication includes schools in institutions and hospitals, mission schools and similar establishments.
The term 'school' in this publication excludes preschools, kindergarten centres, pre-primary schools or pre-primary classes in or attached to non-special schools, senior technical and agricultural colleges, evening schools, continuation classes and institutions such as business or coaching colleges.
Multi-campus arrangements are counted as one school.
The National Report on Schooling in Australia uses the term ‘school sector’ to distinguish between government schools, which are established and administered by State and Territory governments through their education departments or authorities, and non-government schools, usually with some religious affiliation, which are established and operated under conditions determined by State and Territory governments through their registration authorities.
School sector is also used to further distinguish between non-government schools as Catholic or independent. Catholic schools are affiliated with the Catholic Church and make up the largest group of non-government schools. Independent schools may be associated with other religions, other denominations, particular educational philosophies or operate as single entities.
A further distinction is sometimes made between systemic and non-systemic non-government schools. Systemic schools are formally affiliated with a group or system of schools. Non-systemic non-government schools do not belong to a system.
In this publication Catholic non-systemic schools are counted as Catholic.
The NSSC uses the term ‘affiliation’ rather than the term ‘school sector’ to make these distinctions.
See Level of education
A special school satisfies the definition of a school and requires one or more of the following characteristics to be exhibited by the student or situations to apply before enrolment is allowed:
mental or physical disability or impairment
slow learning ability
social or emotional problems
in custody, on remand or in hospital.
A student enrolled in both a hospital or prison school and another school should be counted once.
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.
Staff absent from a position for a period of less than four continuous weeks (excluding school vacations for teaching staff) at the census date are included. If they have been, or are expected to be, absent from a position for a period of four continuous weeks or longer, their replacement is counted unless the replacement has not occupied, or is not expected to be occupying, the position for four continuous weeks or longer (excluding school vacations for teaching staff).
Included in the definition of staff are:
the FTE of in-scope staff teaching evening secondary students attending secondary colleges in Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory
staff paid from school grant payments
staff employed under various Government sponsored employment schemes.
Excluded from the definition of staff are:
all 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)
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 (excluding school vacations for teaching staff) at the Census date
persons replacing those who are temporarily absent.
A student is a person who, on the census date, is formally enrolled in a school and is active in a primary, secondary and/or special education program at that school.
Persons not present at a school on the NSSC census date are included as students if they were expected to be absent for less than four continuous weeks (excluding school vacations).
Students undertaking TAFE, tertiary studies, apprenticeships, work placements, VET in schools or a combination of such pathways, in addition to general secondary subjects, are in the scope of the NSSC, regardless of which year of schooling these alternative pathways are undertaken. The workload of general secondary subject(s) and alternative pathways are aggregated to determine whether a student is classified as full-time or part-time and in calculating the full-time equivalent for part-time students.
A full-time student is one who undertakes a workload equivalent to, or greater than, that prescribed for a full-time student of that year level. This may vary between States and Territories and from year to year.
A part-time student is one who undertakes a workload less than that specified as full time. The full-time equivalent (FTE) value of part-time students is calculated by dividing the student's workload into that which is considered to be a full workload by that State or Territory. Part-time secondary student estimates may vary between States and Territories due to different policy and organisational arrangements.
Survey of Education and Work
The Survey of Education and Work
, conducted annually by the ABS, provides selected information on participation in education, highest educational attainment, transition from education to work and current labour force and demographic characteristics for the population aged 15 to 64 years. Data from Education and Work
are used to report participation and attainment data, including key performance measures for schooling in the National Report on Schooling in Australia.
Teaching staff are staff who spend the majority of their time in contact with students. They support students either by direct class contact or on an individual basis, and are engaged to impart school curriculum.
For the purposes of this report, teaching staff includes principals, deputy principals, campus principals and senior teachers mainly involved in administration. Teacher aides and assistants, and specialist support staff are excluded, except assistant teachers working in Homeland Learning Centres and Community Schools in the Northern Territory.
User cost of capital
In the government budget context the user cost of capital is usually defined as the opportunity cost of funds tied up in the capital assets used to deliver government services.
Capital charging is the actual procedure used for applying this cost of capital to the asset management process. As such, it is a means of representing the cost of capital used in the provision of government budgetary outputs.
The collection period for government schools is Semester 1 of each school year, except in Tasmania, where Term 1 is used.
The collection period for non-government schools is specified as the last 20 school days in May of each school year. In practice, data are usually collected for 20 consecutive school days in May that form four complete school weeks. For 2010, this was the four-week period beginning Monday 3 May and ending Friday 28 May.
Student attendance data for government schools were collected by government school authorities in each State and Territory and provided to ACARA. There were variations in the methodologies employed for collecting data and for calculating attendance rates. Explanatory notes on methodology, provided by each jurisdiction, are included below.
Data for the Catholic and independent school sectors were collected through the Australian Government’s online data collection system, known as the Student Attendance System and provided to ACARA by DEEWR. Individual non-government schools entered 2010 student attendance information directly into this system. The non-government sectors were also able to add data for all of their systemic schools. The collection system does not impose any limitations on the collection methodology used by the non-government school sectors.
The following notes refer to government schools only.
In New South Wales, returns of absences were collected for full-time, Years 1–10 students. All government school students in Years 1 to 10 were regarded as full-time. Schools run two Oasis reports on absences at their school, specifying Semester 1:
(1) all students by gender and by scholastic year
(2) Indigenous students by gender and by scholastic year.
These Semester 1 Oasis reports are uploaded via the Data Analysis and Collections Return of Absences website. The Oasis reports are read/parsed and relevant data elements extracted and saved to the database. Absences data are then presented to schools for review. Schools must sign off on the accuracy of the returns. Various validations are performed against the data collected, which include but are not limited to: high absences, unexpected high/low days open, variations in enrolment numbers.
In Victoria, attendance data were collected through the CASES21 system.
In Queensland, the average student attendance rates for government schools were based on the attendance information for individual students in Years 1–10 recorded on each school’s School Management System (SMS). Absence details were recorded on the SMS against student records for each full-day or half-day of absence. Absence data for students enrolled in any part of Semester 1 and who were still enrolled as at the August census collection were collected centrally from each school’s SMS.
In South Australia, absence data held in government school administrative systems at the student unit record level are centrally collected through the Central EDSAS Data Store. A snapshot of whole and half-day absences for Semester 1 is taken and stored in the department’s Student Census System as part of the Term 3 annual census collection.
Attendance data are calculated for Semester 1 (Term 1 and Term 2) and include SA government students who meet the following criteria:
full-time students only (FTE ≥ 0.89)
students in Years 1–10 and Years 1–10 ungraded
enrolled during Semester 1 2010 (Terms 1 and 2)
active or had left at the time of the Term 3 census
include those who have not missed a day.
Absences included are on or after the student’s enrolment date and on or before the leaving date. Absences are recorded as morning, afternoon or whole-day absences.
In Western Australia, the data were for all full-time students in Years 1–10. Attendance data held in school systems were centrally accessed and stored through the Student Attendance Monitoring database. Attendance/absence data in primary schools were recorded on a half-day basis. For secondary schools, the data were initially recorded on a ‘period’ basis and then converted to half-days.
Any day where a student is absent from the school site is recorded as an absence. This excludes circumstances where students are participating in an approved educational activity off the grounds. A suspension is treated as a type of absence. In secondary schools the half-day cut-off is set to ensure that the period structure reflects the minimum amount of instructional hours for both the morning and afternoon sessions.
The collection is based on current students as at the end of the collection period.
In Tasmania, absence data were collected at individual student record level via the Schools Administration Computer System (SACS) for each school. These data were collected centrally and stored in a data warehouse. Data on whole-day absences for Tasmanian government primary, high, district high and special schools students in Years 1–10 were extracted for Term 1.
Any whole day absence categorised as explained, unexplained, unauthorised or truant is counted as an absence. The following are not counted as days absent:
when students are away from school on an alternative learning activity
when a student has a certificate of part-time attendance and is not required to attend
short and long-term suspensions.
Students identifying as Indigenous are allocated up to five days per year for cultural leave to participate in cultural activities. Such days are not counted as absences.
Absence data are recorded for all schools at which a student is actively enrolled during the sample period. Absences are only counted at the school where the absence occurred.
In the Northern Territory, enrolment and attendance data were collected for individual students through the Schools Administration and Management system. The data were collected at most government schools on a weekly basis, processed centrally and stored in a data warehouse. Attendance data were reported for students in year/grade levels 1–10 attending a government school at any time during Semester 1. Most students in Years 1–10 were regarded as full-time. Where attendance/absence data are initially recorded more frequently than on a half-day basis, they are converted to half-days, e.g. secondary schools recording period attendance.
Full-time students attending for all or part of the collection period (Semester 1) were included, as were students who moved between government schools during the collection period.
In the Australian Capital Territory, enrolment and attendance data were collected through the electronic school management system at the school. For primary school attendance data, teachers recorded student attendance daily (to the level of half-day attendance), and the absence data were aggregated at the end of each term, entered in the school management system and swept into the central database. Secondary school attendance data were recorded at each teaching period, entered into the school electronic system and then swept into the central database. Students whose Indigenous status was recorded as unknown have been excluded when calculating Indigenous/non-Indigenous attendance rates. Students who moved schools during the collection period were tracked via the Central Administration System and their attendance was derived by possible days attended.
Absences with and without parental approval, truanting and suspensions are counted as absences. Absences due to work experience, excursions and alternative sanctioned programs are not counted as absences.
In New South Wales, data were for full-time, Years 1–10 students only. All government school students in Years 1–10 are regarded as full-time. All schools must submit a return, except those classified as schools for specific purposes (SSP), intensive English centres (IEC), or distance education schools/centres (DEC). Students with Indigenous status of ‘unknown/not provided’ are included under ‘all students’.
For Victoria, the figures for Years 1–10 include students in primary, secondary and combined primary and secondary schools.
In Queensland, absences were collected from each school at which the student had an active enrolment. Attendance was calculated for full-time students only, therefore students enrolled at multiple schools were excluded from the calculation.
In South Australia, the data include students who were enrolled during Semester 1, regardless of school, and who were active or had left at the time of the Term 3 census. The calculation includes full-time students (≥0.89 FTE) in Years 1–10 and Years 1–10 ungraded students in all South Australian government schools. Indigenous attendance rates include students indicated as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. Non-Indigenous attendance rates include all other students.
In Western Australia, schools for specific purposes were included, students enrolled in intensive English centres were included in data for their host schools and students in hospital schools or detention centres were counted in their home school as undertaking an alternative educational activity and were not counted as absent. Data for students in migrant detention centres, hostels or refugee camps were not included.
In Tasmania, students in distance education centres and detention centres were excluded.
In the Northern Territory, special schools are included, as are special education annexes reported as part of schools. Some hospital students and intensive language students are included as part of a school. Year 10 students in senior colleges are included in the data. Students who attended the Northern Territory School of Music or the Northern Territory Language Centre are excluded (dual enrolments). Distance education centres (including Schools of the Air and the Northern Territory Open Education Centre) are excluded as attendance is not recorded. Remand students were excluded, as remand schools cannot provide identifiable student level information due to the privacy principles of the Juvenile Justice Act 1987.
In the Australian Capital Territory, absences were collected from each school at which the student had an active enrolment. There were no students enrolled at more than one ACT public school during the collection period. Students in intensive English centres and schools for specific purposes were included.
There was variation in the treatment of ungraded students across the jurisdictions.
In New South Wales, ungraded students in mainstream schools were classified as either primary or secondary according to their level of education. Students enrolled in schools for specific purposes were not included in the absence collections.
In Victoria, ungraded attendance includes both primary and secondary students; therefore, while both ungraded columns contain data, the data are the same. The figures for Years 1–10 include students in primary, secondary and combined primary/secondary schools. Ungraded figures include students in special schools only.
In Queensland, from 2010, ungraded students were recorded in their age-specific year levels.
In South Australia, ungraded includes full-time students who were enrolled in Years 1–10 special classes on the basis of disability, personal and other health care needs, or due to intensive English support needs. Expected age for each year level is provided to schools as a guide, however ability is taken into account in assigning to ungraded year levels.
In Western Australia, ungraded students are assigned to one of two categories:
‘not specified’ or ‘ungraded secondary’.
In Tasmanian government schools, ungraded students were assigned to a grade based on age or ability.
In the Northern Territory, students were allocated to a grade by the school, based on a student’s age or current level of schooling. In situations where a student had recently enrolled and a grade had not yet been determined, or the school was unable to allocate a specific year level, e.g. the student had special needs or participated in an intensive English program, they were allocated to ungraded primary or ungraded secondary by the school. The attendance for these students was reported under Ungraded Primary or Ungraded Secondary based on this identifier.
In the Australian Capital Territory, special needs students were assigned a year level and their attendance data were included in the year level calculation, i.e. there were no ungraded students in the public school system.
In New South Wales, only full-day absences are centrally collected and reported in the attendance measures.
In Victoria, both full and half-day absences are collected.
In Queensland, full-day and half-day absences were included in the attendance rates. Schools were required to mark students on the roll as either present or absent from their educational program at least twice daily, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, which directly informed how a student’s attendance was recorded in the School Management System (SMS). Days absent were recorded in SMS as morning, afternoon or all-day absences.
In South Australia, full and half-day absences counted towards absence rates. Part-day absences, i.e. late arrivals, early departures, were not included as absences, therefore are counted as attendance.
In Western Australia, attendance/absence data in primary schools were recorded on a half-day basis. In secondary schools data were initially recorded on a period basis and were converted to half-days. All attendance rate calculations were based on half-days.
Students may enrol in one school but may attend at multiple settings through a formal arrangement.
In Tasmanian government schools, any absence for students in Years 1–10 was recorded in two half-day sessions or in a single whole-day session. Part-day absence was not included in Tasmanian attendance data.
In the Northern Territory, if a student attended school for 50 per cent of the day or more, they were classified as present for the day. If the student attended less than half a day, they were classified as absent. Primary schools generally mark attendance twice daily, secondary schools for every period, and other schools to suit their operational requirements. All variations were converted to half-day attendance.
In the Australian Capital Territory, primary school students were recorded in the class roll as either present or absent from their educational program at least twice daily. Half-day absences were either morning or afternoon. In secondary school (Years 7–10) student attendance was recorded for every teaching session during the day in the school management system.
Students attending multiple settings were treated as part-time in each setting and excluded from the analysis due to issues with assigning maximum possible days in each setting.
Methodology for calculation
In New South Wales government schools, the attendance rate is calculated as follows:
Attendance equals (1 minus absences divided by enrolled days) multiplied by 100, where:
absences equals ‘all full day absences for the period in question’
enrolled days equals ‘enrolments multiplied by days open’
enrolments equals ‘all students Year 1 to Year 10 enrolled at any time during the period’
days open equals ‘any day that the school was open for teaching during the period’
period equals ‘Semester 1 comprised of Term 1 and Term 2’.
In Victoria, the data represent the number of actual full-time equivalent ‘student days’ attended in Semester 1 2010 as a percentage of the total number of possible student days attended over that period.
In Queensland, the attendance data (from SMS) were used to determine for each student the number of days it was possible for the student to attend in Semester 1. This calculation was based on analysis of the school calendar together with the student’s enrolment and exit dates. Only school days were counted, with local holidays and public holidays being removed. The totals of the full and half-day absences for each student were calculated and then subtracted from the days possible to arrive at the number of days in attendance at each school. The attendance rate calculation was based on information for all full-time students enrolled in Years 1–10 at a government school.
In South Australia, an absence rate is calculated by aggregating the number of days of absence (including aggregating half-days) and dividing by the aggregated number of ‘potential days of attendance’, based on the student enrolled days. Rates are rounded to the nearest whole number, therefore rounding error should be considered if comparing to decimal precision figures or comparing rounded absence and attendance rates.
In Western Australia, the attendance data were aggregated from individual student data using the enrolment commencement and cessation dates and based on available half-days minus half-day absences, divided by the available half-days, multiplied by 100.
For Tasmanian government school students, the attendance rates are calculated for all students on a full-time equivalent basis by the following method: potential days at school minus number of days absent divided by potential days at school.
In the Northern Territory, the attendance rate was calculated as follows:
Each enrolment on each day was counted as a student attendance day if 50 per cent or more of the expected sessions were attended by a student. Total actual student attendance days was calculated for each cohort of students (e.g. Year 3 girls) by summing the student attendance days across the time period. Each enrolment on each day was counted as an expected attendance day (considering enrolment date and departure date of each student). Total expected attendance days was calculated for each cohort of students (e.g. Year 3 girls) by summing the expected attendance days across the time period. Total actual student attendance days divided by total expected attendance days derives the attendance rate for each cohort.
In Australian Capital Territory primary schools, the number of days attended by each student was calculated as the difference between the total number of days possible to attend and the aggregate number of full-day (1.0) and half-day (0.5) absences. In high schools, the aggregate number of days absent for each student was generated by dividing the number of sessions absent by the number of teaching sessions per day and totalling the days it was possible to attend in Semester 1. The number of days attended by each student was calculated as the difference between the total number of days possible to attend and the aggregate number of days absent (or part thereof). The average student attendance rate for each year level was generated by dividing the total number of days attended by all students within the year level by the total number of days possible, expressed as a percentage.
¹ In some jurisdictions, part-time programs that precede the preparatory year are conducted in primary schools (for example, Kindergarten in Western Australia). However, these programs are outside the scope of the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) and the National Report on Schooling and data on them are not included in this report.