National Report on Schooling in Australia 2011

Student participation

4.1 Enrolment

Enrolment rates

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 specified as 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 2010.

This measure, specified 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, is reported in Table 4.1.

Key Performance Measure 7(a)

Proportion of children aged 6 to 15 years who are enrolled in school

Table 4.1 Number and proportion of children aged 6 to 15 years enrolled in school, 2008–11

2008

2009

2010

2011

Population, Australia (6 to 15 years)(a)

2,774,934

2,782,495

2,785,486

2,790,093

School enrolments, Australia (6 to 15 years)(b)

2,739,205

2,748,736

2,755,893

2,768,177

Proportion of 6 to 15-year-olds enrolled in school, Australia (%)

98.7

98.8

98.9

99.2

(a) Estimates for the total population are sourced from ABS, Cat. No. 3101.0, Australian Demographic Statistics, 30 June 2011. The Australian total includes 'other territories' including Jervis Bay and Norfolk Island.

(b) School data include students who cross State and Territory boundaries to attend school. Includes children enrolled full time or part time. Jervis Bay enrolments and Norfolk Island enrolments are included. 'Other territory' enrolments are excluded.

Sources: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2011; ABS, Cat. No. 3101.0, Australian Demographic Statistics, Australian States and Territories, June 2011

See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 9

The rate of enrolment in schooling of six to 15-year-olds has been close to 100 per cent in each of the four years (2008–11) for which this measure has been reported. This reflects the compulsory nature of primary and junior secondary schooling in Australia. The rate has risen marginally in each of these years with a total increase of 0.5 percentage points over the period 2008–11 to 99.2 per cent in 2011.

This increase was partly made up by a rise in the rate of enrolment for 15-year-olds, which increased by 1.5 percentage points from 95 per cent to 96.5 per cent over the same period¹, coinciding with the adoption by States and Territories of requirements for 15 and 16-year-olds to participate in education, training or an approved alternative.

The age at which schooling becomes compulsory is six years in all States and Territories except Tasmania, where it is five years. Prior to 2006, the minimum school leaving age in most jurisdictions was 15² so that schooling was not generally compulsory for 15-year-olds, although the great majority of students remained at school until the end of Year 10.

However, between 2006 and 2008, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania moved to increase the age to which students must remain at school, or an approved combination of schooling, training and employment, until age 17. In January 2010, the National Youth Participation Requirement³, agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2009, came into effect across all States and Territories, extending the requirement to students in New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The National Youth Participation Requirement includes the mandatory requirement for all young people to participate in schooling until they complete Year 10, and to participate full time in education, training or employment, or a combination of these activities, until the age of 17.

As a result, enrolment in school was effectively compulsory for nearly all4 15-year-olds by the time of the schools census in August 2011.5

The effect of the National Youth Participation Requirement is observable in changes to national apparent progression and apparent retention rates discussed later in this section.

Following the adoption of the National Youth Participation Requirement there are now few variations in specific enrolment requirements between States and Territories. (See Table 3.1: Primary and secondary school structures, minimum age of commencement for Year 1 and minimum school leaving age by State and Territory, 2011 for a summary of enrolment requirements in each jurisdiction.)

Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 9 reports KPM 7(a) by State and Territory.

Enrolments by school level and sector

Students in the six to 15 years age group made up 78.2 per cent of total enrolments. A further 774,000 students were either under six or 16 and over at the time of the schools census in August 2011. In total, more than 3.5 million individual students were enrolled in Australian schools in 2011. Of these, approximately two million were primary school students and approximately 1.5 million were secondary school students. This difference is mainly due to schooling structures, in which primary schooling comprises more year groups/cohorts than secondary schooling. The number of students by school level and sector for 2011 are summarised in Table 4.2.

Table 4.2 Number and proportion of students (full-time plus part-time) enrolled in schools by school level and sector, Australia, 2011

Sector

Government

Catholic

Independent

Total

School level

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

Primary

1,407,370

68.9

396,570

19.4

238,141

11.7

2,042,081

57.7

Junior secondary

611,978

60.6

224,466

22.2

173,617

17.2

1,010,061

28.5

Senior secondary

295,905

60.4

103,558

21.1

90,204

18.4

489,667

13.8

Total secondary

907,883

60.5

328,024

21.9

263,821

17.6

1,499,728

42.3

Total

2,315,253

65.4

724,594

20.5

501,962

14.2

3,541,809

100.0

Notes:

Primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 6 in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT. In Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 7.

Junior secondary comprises the years from commencement of secondary school to Year 10, including ungraded secondary.

Senior secondary comprises Years 11 and 12.

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 Part 10: Glossary for definition of special schools.

Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

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

See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 10

Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 10 reports the number of students in 2011 by full-time and part-time status and by State and Territory, as well as by school level and sector.

As shown in Table 4.2 and Figure 4.1, almost two thirds (65.4 per cent) of Australian school students in 2011 were enrolled in government schools, approximately one fifth (20.5 per cent) of students were enrolled in Catholic schools and the remainder (14.2 per cent) attended independent schools.

Figure 4.1 Proportion of students (full-time plus part-time) enrolled in schools by sector,
Australia, 2011 (%)

Figure 4.1 Proportion of students (full-time plus

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

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

As shown in Table 4.2 and Figure 4.2, the proportion of students enrolled in government schools in 2011 was higher for primary than secondary students, while the reverse was true for independent schools.

Figure 4.2 Number of students (full-time plus part-time) enrolled by school level and sector,
Australia, 2011

Figure 4.2 Number of students (full-time plus part

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

This implies a movement of students from the government to the independent sector, particularly between primary and secondary schooling. However, as the movement of individual students between schools is currently not tracked, it is not clear to what extent this is the net effect of larger student movements among all three sectors. The higher proportion of senior secondary students in the independent sector, shown in Table 4.2, is consistent with higher Year 10 to 12 apparent retention rates for this sector. Apparent progression rates and apparent retention rates are discussed in Part 4.2: Progression and retention.

The numbers of students enrolled in all three sectors have risen over the last four years, but with proportionately greater growth in the non-government sectors. The proportion of students enrolled in government schools has fallen by 1.2 percentage points over this period, whereas the proportion of students in independent schools has risen by 0.9 percentage points. The proportion of students enrolled in Catholic schools has risen by 0.4 percentage points. Table 4.3 and Figure 4.3 summarise these data.

Table 4.3 Number and proportion of students enrolled (full-time plus part-time) by school sector, Australia, 200711

Sector

Government

Catholic

Independent

Total

Year

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

2007

2,290,443

66.6

691,557

20.1

459,026

13.3

3,441,026

100.0

2008

2,284,801

66.1

697,354

20.2

474,895

13.7

3,457,050

100.0

2009

2,294,638

65.8

704,837

20.2

485,329

13.9

3,484,804

100.0

2010

2,304,259

65.6

713,911

20.3

492,705

14.0

3,510,875

100.0

2011

2,315,253

65.4

724,594

20.5

501,962

14.2

3,541,809

100.0

Notes:

Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

Data are drawn from the most recent ABS series and may differ from those in previous publications.

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

See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 10

Figure 4.3 Number of students enrolled (full-time plus part-time) by school sector,
Australia, 2007–11

Figure 4.3 Number of students enrolled (full-time

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

Data on full-time equivalent (FTE) enrolments by State and Territory, by school sector and by level of education, are included in Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 12 and Table 13.

 


1 ABS, Schools, Australia, 2011, Table 42b.

2 Students were permitted to leave school at the time of their fifteenth birthday. Typically, this occurs between mid-Year 9 and the end of Year 10.

3 The National Youth Participation Requirement is a component of the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions which includes the Compact with Young Australians. Further information on this National Partnership is provided in Part 2.5: Supporting senior years of schooling and youth transitions.

4 Students who had already completed Year 10 but were still 15 in 2011 could undertake alternative training pathways in 2011 rather than enrol in Year 11.

5 This was not yet the case in August 2010 as, in NSW, the ACT and the NT, students who had turned 15 in the second half of 2009 and had left school in 2009 were not required to return to school in 2010.