National Report on Schooling in Australia 2011

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education

7.3 Attendance (comprising enrolment, progression, retention and attendance) (First Page)

Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014 the domain ‘attendance’ includes targets and performance indicators, not only for attendance rates but also for enrolment, for progression from one secondary school year level or grade to the next and for retention from Year 7/8 to Years 10 and 12. This chapter includes data and commentary on measures of:
 
  • Enrolment
  • Progression
  • Retention
  • Attendance.
These measures are grouped as ‘participation’ measures elsewhere in this report.
 

7.3.1 Enrolment

The proportion of children of compulsory school age who are enrolled in school is a measure of the reach and coverage of Australian schooling. It is a performance indicator for schooling in the National Education Agreement and is a key performance measure (KPM) in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia.

This measure is defined as the number of students aged six to 15 years enrolled in school, expressed as a proportion of the six to 15-year-old population. The Measurement Framework states that measures should, where feasible and appropriate, be reported disaggregated by equity subgroup, including by Indigenous status.

This disaggregated measure is also specified as an indicator in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014.

While this disaggregated measure has been reported in previous editions of the National Report on Schooling in Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has advised that such reporting is no longer appropriate or reliable. Jurisdictions have agreed that this KPM, disaggregated by indigenous status, will no longer be published.

Specifically, the number of Indigenous students aged six to 15 years enrolled in school, expressed as a proportion of the six to 15-year-old Indigenous population, is not reliable due to modal differences between the numerator and denominator. The numerator is sourced from the MCEECDYA annual National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) published by ABS as Schools Australia, whereas the denominator is sourced from the ABS Estimates and Projection, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, which is updated after each five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. The ABS advises that different rates of Indigenous identification between school enrolments, the five yearly Census and other administrative data (e.g. birth and death registrations) may seriously bias the calculated proportion estimate.

It is possible to report the number and proportion of Indigenous students enrolled in schools by school level and sector, where both numerator and denominator are collected through the NSSC. These figures, which report the number of Indigenous students (full-time and part-time) enrolled in schools, relative to total enrolments are provided in Tables 7.2 and 7.3 below.

Table 7.2 displays the population of enrolled Indigenous students as a proportion of all enrolled students.

Table 7.3 shows the total population of enrolled Indigenous students broken down by school sector and school level.

Additional Statistics Table 38 reports individual enrolments by Indigenous status in 2011 by full-time and part-time and by state and territory as well as by school level and sector.

Enrolled Indigenous students
(a) Primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 6 in NSW, Vic., Tas., NT and ACT. In Qld, SA and WA, primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 7.

(b) Junior secondary is the years from commencement of secondary school to Year 10, including ungraded secondary.

(c) Senior secondary includes Years 11 and 12.

(d) Students attending special schools are allocated to either primary or secondary school 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 Glossary for definition of special schools.

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2011

See also Additional Statistics Table 38
 

As shown in Table 7.2, a disproportionately high percentage of Indigenous students are enrolled in government schools, relative to the overall level across all sectors. In the government and Catholic sectors, the number of Indigenous students as a proportion of all students is higher at primary than at junior secondary level and is higher at junior secondary than at senior secondary level. However, for the independent sector the proportion is lower at primary and senior secondary than at junior secondary level.

Numbers of Indigenous students2

(a) Primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 6 in NSW, Vic., Tas., NT and ACT. In Qld, SA and WA, primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 7.

(b) Junior secondary is the years from commencement of secondary school to Year 10, including ungraded secondary.

(c) Senior secondary includes Years 11 and 12.

(d) Students attending special schools are allocated to either primary or secondary school 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 Glossary for definition of special schools.

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2011

See also Additional Statistics Table 38

 
 

 
As shown in Table 7.3, in 2011 85.2 per cent of Indigenous students were enrolled in government schools, 9.5 per cent were enrolled in Catholic schools and 5.3 per cent were enrolled in independent schools.
This compares to 65.4 per cent, 20.5 per cent and 14.2 per cent respectively for all students, as reported in Part 4.1: Student engagement – enrolment, demonstrating the higher concentration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in the government sector.

Of those Indigenous students in government schools, 64.6 per cent were at primary level. This compares with 58.2 per cent in the Catholic sector and 42.1 per cent in the independent sector. These figures and figures for junior and senior secondary levels are shown in Table 7.4.
 
 

 
Distribution of Indigenous students enrolled

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2011

 

 
Figure 7.1 shows the number of Indigenous students enrolled by sector and by primary and secondary levels.
 
Number of Indigenous students enrolled by school

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2011

The number of Indigenous students enrolled in all three sectors has risen over the last five years. The proportion of Indigenous students enrolled in government schools has fallen slightly over this period, while the proportion of Indigenous students enrolled in the non-government sector has risen slightly. Table 7.5 and Figure 7.2 summarise these data.

Number of Indigenous students7.5
 
Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2011

See also Additional Statistics Table 38
 
 


Figure 7.2       Number of Indigenous students enrolled by school sector, Australia, 2007–11

Number of Indigenous students7.2 
 

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2011

 

 
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