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The National Report on Schooling in Australia 2018 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 National Report on Schooling in Australia 2018 is the thirtieth annual report on Australia’s school education sector.1 It has been produced by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on behalf of education ministers, meeting as the COAG Education Council.
The report highlights progress in 2018 towards the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians agreed by Australian education ministers in 2008, and is the tenth report to address these nationally agreed goals and commitments.
The National Report on Schooling in Australia 2018 consists of two parts: this written report and the online National Report on Schooling data portal.
The written report addresses the eight areas of commitment to action specified in the Melbourne Declaration, describes the national policy and reporting context for school education in Australia and reports against the nationally agreed key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling, including providing data, analysis and commentary. It also includes other high-level statistical information on Australian schooling in 2018 and for the ten-year period 2009–2018 inclusive.
The online National Report on Schooling data portal provides readers and researchers with interactive access to a wider range of nationally consistent data on schooling in Australia. These include data on enrolments, staffing, and school funding, and on the KPMs for student participation, achievement in the National Assessment Program, and attainment of Year 12 and post-school qualifications. The data portal allows readers to view data by state and territory as well as at the national level, by school sector, by calendar year and by other breakdowns, such as gender and Indigenous status. Data sets are regularly updated as new data become available and may be downloaded from the portal.
Previous editions of the National Report on Schooling in Australia for the years 2009–2017 are available on the ACARA website. Editions from 1989 to 2008 are archived on the Education Council website.
1 The first edition of the joint annual report on schooling across Australia was compiled at the direction of the then Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) for 1989.
Overview of the report
Overview of Part 1 - Schools and schooling
Overview of Part 2 - Policies and priorities
Overview of Part 3 - Measuring and reporting performance
Overview of Part 1
Part 1, ‘Schools and schooling’, provides information on the status of Australian schooling in 2018, 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 governments. 1
All states and territories provide for 13 years of formal school education. Primary education, including a foundation year, lasts for either seven or eight years and is followed by secondary education of six or five years respectively. 2 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 – 70.1 per cent – of schools are government schools, established and administered by state and territory governments through their education departments or authorities. The remaining 29.9 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 (65.7 per cent) of school students3 are enrolled in government schools and approximately one-third (34.3 per cent) in non-government schools. Part 1.2 reports on numbers of students by school sector, state and territory, and Indigenous status.
Staff numbers closely reflect enrolments, with 64.3 per cent of school teachers4 employed by the government school sector and 35.7 per cent by non-government schools. Part 1.3 reports on staff numbers and student/teacher ratios.
School, student and teacher numbers in 2018 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.
In 2018, total recurrent government funding for schooling was $61.5 billion. This was made up of 69.9 per cent from state and territory budgets and 31.1 per cent from the Australian Government (Commonwealth) budget.
Overall, 75.8 per cent of recurrent government funding was allocated to government schools and 24.2 per cent to non-government schools. The bulk (91.6 per cent) of state and territory funds was allocated to government schools; the majority (61.1 per cent) of Australian Government funds was allocated to non-government schools.
School funding data and arrangements are reported in part 1.5.
Student numbers are individuals (full-time students plus part-time students). Teacher numbers are full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff.
Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2018; See also National Report on Schooling data portal.
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 SA is now the only jurisdiction to follow the eight-year/five-year pattern.
3 Count of full-time plus part-time students
4 Full-time equivalent teaching staff.
Overview of Part 2
Part 2, ‘Policies and priorities’, outlines the national policy context for Australian schooling in 2018 and reports against the commitments to action agreed by Australian education ministers in the Melbourne Declaration on 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 major national and state and territory policy initiatives for school education in 2018 including:
- the announcement by the Education Council in December 2018, that a review of the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians would be conducted in 2019
- the delivery of three major reports on education: the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (2018); the Independent Review of Regional, Rural and Remote Education (2018); and the final report of the STEM Partnerships Forum (2018).
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 national progress in implementing the Melbourne Declaration commitments to action with a focus on developments in 2018. They also list examples of state and territory initiatives relating to the commitments.
Progress towards the commitments to action reported for 2018 include:
- The final report of the STEM Partnerships Forum emphasised the need for ongoing partnerships between education and industry to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
- A partnership agreement between a coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations and all Australian governments (through COAG) was developed to finalise the revised framework for the Closing the Gap agenda.
- A number of states and territories implemented new and continuing initiatives to improve and support school leadership, for early childhood education, and to support senior secondary schooling and youth transitions.
- The eleventh annual tests in literacy and numeracy for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 were conducted through the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Nationally, approximately 15 per cent of students participating in NAPLAN undertook the tests online in 2018.
- The sixth three-yearly NAP sample assessment in science literacy for Year 6 students was conducted online, with the assessment extended to Year 10 students for the first time.
- The Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education presented its final report.
- The My School website was redeveloped to be mobile phone-accessible and updated in March and December 2018.
Overview of Part 3
Part 3, ‘Measuring and reporting performance’, reports on the performance of Australian schooling in 2018, using the nationally agreed key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling specified in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2015.
Part 3 reports on 21 of the 26 agreed KPMs 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 previous nine years 2009–2017 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, along with extensive statistical information on schooling in Australia.
Data reported for 2018 include that:
- The national school enrolment rate for the 6–15-year-old population was 99.7 per cent.
- The average national attendance rate for students in Years 1–10 was 91.9 per cent. Average attendance rates were higher for Years 1–6 than for Years 7–10.
- At 82.3 per cent, the average attendance rate for Indigenous students was 10.2 percentage points lower than for non-Indigenous students (92.5 per cent). There was an increase in this gap of 0.4 percentage points in 2018.
- Three quarters (75.2 per cent) of all Australian students in Years 1–10 attended school for at least 90 per cent of school days. However, less than half (48.7 per cent) of Indigenous students within this group met the 90 per cent benchmark.
- NAPLAN participation rates were over 90 per cent for reading and writing for each of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 and for numeracy for Years 3, 5 and 7. Year 9 participation rates were lower than for other years across all domains.
- The proportion of students achieving at or above the national minimum standard in NAPLAN tests was over 90 per cent for all year groups tested in reading, and for Year 3 in writing. The proportion of students achieving at or above the national minimum standard in NAPLAN numeracy tests was over 95 per cent for all year groups tested.
- At 58 per cent, the proportion of Year 6 students achieving at or above the proficient standard in NAP – Science Literacy was statistically similar to when this sample assessment was last conducted in 2015, but significantly higher than in 2012.
- NAP – Science Literacy was extended to Year 10 for the first time, with 50 per cent of students achieving the proficient standard.
- There was little change in the performance of 15-year-old Australian students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 from when this sample assessment was last conducted for PISA 2015. At 59 per cent and 54 per cent the proportions of students achieving at or above the proficient standard in reading literacy and mathematical literacy were statistically similar to 2015. The proportion of students achieving at or above the proficient standard in scientific literacy decreased significantly from 61 per cent in 2015 to 58 per cent in 2018. Australian student performance was significantly above the OECD average in reading literacy and scientific literacy, but statistically similar to the OECD average in mathematical literacy.
- The national apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 decreased for the first time since 2012: by 0.5 percentage points to 82.8 per cent. The apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 62.6 per cent, with the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous rates remaining at 21.3 percentage points. These changes were not statistically significant at the national level.
- The proportion of 15–19-year-olds who were fully engaged in education, training or employment, as measured by the ABS Survey of Education and Work, decreased (but not significantly) from 89.0 per cent in 2017 to 88.6 per cent in 2018.
- The proportion of the 20–24-year-old population that has attained at least Year 12 or equivalent or AQF Certificate III or above, as measured by the ABS Survey of Education and Work, increased significantly from 86.4 per cent in 2017 to 88.8 per cent in 2018.
Table 1 summarises the KPMs for 2018 in comparison with 2017 (or the most recent previous year for which comparable data exist).