Student-teacher ratios

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The student-teacher ratio is calculated as the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students per FTE teaching staff.

Full-time equivalent (FTE) student-teacher ratios are calculated by dividing the FTE student number by the FTE teaching staff number. Student-teacher ratios are an indicator of the level of staffing resources used and should not be used as a measure of class size. They do not take account of teacher aides and other non-teaching staff who may also assist in the delivery of school education or of non-teaching duties of teaching staff.

Notes and caveats

    • Data is drawn from the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) collected in August each year and published in ABS, Schools, Australia.
    • In 2020 and 2021, restrictions due to COVID-19 may have impacted on NSSC enrolment data. However, students who were learning remotely, or whose schooling was temporarily disrupted due to COVID-19 at the time of the collection were included in the count. Overall, it is estimated that the impacts of COVID-19 on the data were minor. For further details see Schools Australia 2020 and 2021.
    • In 2020 and 2021 border closures due to COVID-19 impacted on school enrolments due to reduced immigration and, in particular, to falls in the numbers of full fee-paying overseas students (FFPOS). This may have impacted the numerator and/or the denominator for this measure in 2020 and 2021. For further details see Schools Australia 2020 and 2021.
    • From 2015, primary education comprises Foundation (pre-Year 1) followed by Years 1-6 in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (Vic.), Queensland (Qld), Western Australia (WA), Tasmania (Tas.), Northern Territory (NT) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Secondary education comprises Years 7-12 in these jurisdictions.
    • In 2015, Year 7 in Qld and WA was moved from a primary school year to a secondary school year. This affects the numbers and proportions of primary and secondary students and staff, and therefore student-teacher ratios, in those states and nationally from 2015.
    • Until 2019 in South Australia (SA), primary education comprised Foundation (pre-Year 1) followed by Years 1-7. Secondary education consisted of Years 8-12.
    • In 2019, Year 7 was moved from a primary school year to a secondary school year in some SA non-government schools. This may affect primary and secondary student-teacher ratios for the non-government sectors and all schools in SA in 2019.
    • In 2022, all remaining South Australian government and non-government schools completed the transition to Year 7 as the starting school grade of secondary schooling. This meant that 2022 is the first year South Australian schools across all affiliations had Year 7 as their starting secondary school grade.
    • Students attending special schools are allocated to either primary or secondary school on the basis of grade or school level, where identified. Where the year level or school level is not identified, students are allocated to primary or secondary school level according to the typical age level in each state or territory.
    • From 2020, support students in New South Wales Government mainstream schools are recorded against their grade of enrolment, to be more aligned with national counting rules. Only students in Schools for Specific Purposes (SSP) are now recorded as ungraded. Care should be taken when comparing with previous years as enrolments by grades will be higher than previously due to the revised methodology.
    • Staff employed in combined schools and special schools are allocated to either primary or secondary education on a pro-rata basis.
    • In Schools Australia, and in this publication, Catholic non-systemic schools are counted as Catholic rather than as independent.
    • In 2018, NSW introduced a new payroll system that is used to report staffing levels in government schools. This system provides stricter controls and validation over the way casual and temporary teachers are engaged; and improved the information available to better identify teachers that should be included as "generally active" in schools. This led to a fall in the number of FTE NSW government school teachers reported in 2019, and therefore to increased student-teacher ratios for the government school sector and for all schools in NSW and nationally.
    • See Glossary for definitions of school level, sector, full-time equivalent (FTE), staff, staff categories and for further information on the NSSC.

Sources: ABS, Schools, Australia

This information relates to Part 1 of the National Report on Schooling in Australia. 

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