Overview of Part 1
- Schools and schooling
Overview of Part 2
- Policies and priorities
Overview of Part 3
- Measuring and reporting performance
The National Report on Schooling in Australia 2015 is the annual report on Australia’s school education sector. It has been produced by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on behalf of the Education Council.
The report highlights progress in 2015 towards the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians agreed by Australian education ministers in 2008.
The National Report on Schooling in Australia 2015 addresses the eight areas of commitment to action specified in the Melbourne Declaration. It describes the national policy and reporting context for school education in Australia and reports against the nationally agreed key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling, covering student participation, student achievement in national assessments and student transitions to further education and work. A selection of other statistical information on Australian schooling in 2015 and for the six-year period 2009–2015 is included in the report, with more extensive data sets accessible through the National Report on Schooling data portal.
The data portal provides readers with interactive access to a wide range of data on schooling in Australia, including general statistics on enrolments and funding, and data on the agreed KPMs. In most cases, the portal allows readers to download data by state and territory, by school sector, by calendar year and by other breakdowns, such as gender and Indigenous status, as well as at the national level.
This is the seventh annual National Report on Schooling in Australia to address the Melbourne Declaration and the twenty-seventh annual report overall.
Editions of the report for the years 2009–2014 are available on the ACARA website. Editions prior to 2009 are available on the SCSEEC website.
Overview of the report
Overview of Part 1
Part 1, ‘Schools and schooling’, provides information on the status of Australian schooling in 2015, including school, student and teacher numbers, school structures and funds used for school education.
In Australia, responsibility for school education rests mainly with the six state and two territory governments1.
All states and territories provide for 13 years of formal school education. Primary education, including a preparatory year, lasts for either seven or eight years and is followed by secondary education of six or five years respectively. Typically, schooling commences at age five, is compulsory from age six until age 17 (with provision for alternative study or work arrangements in the senior secondary years), and is completed at age 17 or 18. School structures and age requirements in states and territories are summarised in part 1.4.
The majority – 71 per cent – of schools are government schools, established and administered by state and territory governments through their education departments or authorities. The remaining 29 per cent are non-government schools, mostly associated with religious organisations. Non-government schools are established and operated under conditions determined by state and territory governments through their registration authorities. School numbers are shown in part 1.1.
Around two-thirds (65 per cent) of school students are enrolled in government schools and approximately one-third (35 per cent) in non-government schools. Part 1.2 reports on numbers of students by school sector, state and territory, and Indigenous status.
Staff numbers2 closely reflect enrolments, with 64 per cent of school teachers employed by the government school sector and 36 per cent by non-government schools. Part 1.3 reports on staff numbers and student/teacher ratios.
School, student and teacher numbers in 2015 are shown for Australia, and by state and territory in figure 1.
Schools are funded through a combination of state/territory government funding, Australian government funding, fees and charges and other parental/private contributions. School funding arrangements and data are reported in part 1.5.
1 New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (Vic.), Queensland (Qld), South Australia (SA), Western Australia (WA), Tasmania (Tas.), Northern Territory (NT) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
2 Full-time equivalent teaching staff.
Student numbers are individuals (full-time students plus part-time students). Teacher numbers are full-time equivalent (FTE).
Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2015.
Overview of Part 2
Part 2, ‘Policies and priorities’, outlines the national policy context for Australian schooling in 2015 and reports against the commitments to action agreed by Australian education ministers in the Melbourne Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians.
Part 2.1 of this report summarises the national policy context for schooling including the roles of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Education Council in deciding agreed national policy and initiatives for education. It also provides examples of state and territory policy initiatives for school education in 2015.
Part 2.2 outlines the goals and commitments contained in the Melbourne Declaration and the COAG targets for education.
Parts 2.3–2.10 report on progress in implementing the Melbourne Declaration commitments to action with a focus on developments in 2015.
Progress towards the commitments to action reported for 2015 include:
- Revised standards for teacher training courses (initial teacher education) were endorsed by the Education Council.
- A number of states and territories implemented new initiatives for early childhood education, for the middle years of schooling and for senior secondary schooling.
- Queensland and Western Australia completed the move of Year 7 from a primary school year to a secondary school year, increasing the national consistency of school structures.
- Extensive work was undertaken to revise the Australian Curriculum, Foundation – Year 10 (F–10), addressing themes endorsed by the Education Council. The revised curriculum was published in October 2015.
- Annual tests in literacy and numeracy for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 were conducted through the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) for the eighth time.
- Work was progressed on the transition of NAPLAN testing to an online assessment platform, as agreed by education ministers in 2014.
- The fifth three-yearly NAP sample assessment in Science Literacy for Year 6 students was conducted online.
- Sample groups of Australian students participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which were both conducted in 2015.
- The Education Council endorsed the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy.
- The sixth release of the My School website occurred.
- The Education Council endorsed the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2015.
- Data on a new key performance measure on the level of student attendance, with a particular focus on attendance by Indigenous students, were collected and reported for the first time.
Overview of Part 3
Part 3, ‘Measuring and reporting performance’, reports on the performance of Australian schooling in 2015, using the nationally agreed key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling specified in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2015.
Part 3 reports on 23 of the 26 agreed KPMs3 along with, in some cases, associated COAG targets. The measures are reported at the national level, and by various breakdowns, such as school sector, state and territory, school year and Indigenous status. For selected KPMs, time series for the six years 2009–2015 since the Melbourne Declaration are also included. Where relevant breakdowns or time series are not reported in part 3, they are provided in the National Report on Schooling data portal.
Data reported for 2015 include that:
- The average national attendance rate for students in Years 1–10 was 92.6 per cent. Average attendance rates were lower for Years 8, 9 and 10 than for Years 1–7.
- At 83.7 per cent, the average attendance rate for Indigenous students was 9.4 percentage points lower than for non-Indigenous students (93.1 per cent). There was a decrease in this gap of 0.3 percentage points in 2015.
- Based on data collected for 2015, which excluded NSW government school students, 77.8 per cent of Australian students in Years 1–10 attended school for at least 90 per cent of school days. However, only 49.2 per cent of Indigenous students met this benchmark.
- NAPLAN participation rates for reading, writing and literacy were over 90 per cent for each of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, but were lower in each domain for Year 9 than for Years 3, 5 and 7.
- The proportion of students achieving at or above the minimum standard in NAPLAN tests was over 90 per cent for all year groups tested in reading and numeracy, and for Years 3 and 5 in writing. In writing, the proportion of students achieving at or above the minimum standard was 87.3 per cent for Year 7 and 80.5 per cent for Year 9.
- There was an increase from 51.4 per cent to 55.1 per cent in the proportion of students achieving at or above the proficient standard in science literacy since this sample assessment was last conducted in 2012.
- KPMs for NAP international assessments in 2015 showed little or no improvement:
- The proportion of 15-year-old Australian students achieving at or above the national proficient standard in PISA was lower in all three domains (reading, mathematical and scientific literacy) than for the previous PISA assessment in 2012.
- The proportions of Australian Year 4 and Year 8 students achieving at or above the national proficient standard in TIMSS mathematics were similar to the previous TIMSS assessment in 2011, as was the proportion of Year 8 students achieving at or above the national proficient standard in TIMSS science. The proportion of Year 4 students achieving the proficient standard in TIMSS science was higher than in 2011.
3 The remaining three KPMs, covering student achievement in the NAP international assessment PIRLS and in NAP sample assessments in ICT Literacy and Civics and Citizenship do not apply to the 2015 reporting year.
- The proportion of students proceeding to Year 12 (as measured by the apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12) rose by 0.2 percentage points to 82.7 per cent. The apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students rose by 0.2 percentage points to 60.6 per cent, with the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous rates remaining at 23.2 percentage points.
- The proportion of the 20–24-year-old population that has attained at least Year 12 or equivalent or AQF Certificate III or above increased significantly from 84.9 per cent in 2014 to 87.1 per cent in 2015, improving the prospects for achieving the COAG target for this measure of 90 per cent by 2020.
Table 1 summarises the KPMs for 2015 in comparison with 2014 (or the most recent previous year for which comparable data exist).
National Report on Schooling in Australia 2015
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