National Report on Schooling in Australia 2013

Part 10: Glossary


Note on terms: A major source of data reported in the National Report on Schooling in Australia 2013 is the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC). The NSSC includes statistics on students, schools, and staff involved in the provision or administration of primary and secondary education, in government and non-government schools, for all Australian states and territories. The school census date for the collection, for all states and territories and all school sectors (affiliations), is the first Friday in August each year.

The NSSC is a joint undertaking of the Australian state and territory departments of education, the Australian Government Department of Education, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC). Data from the collection are published by the ABS in Schools, Australia, 2013 (cat. no. 4221.0). Definitions of terms in this glossary are, for the most part, quoted or adapted from the NSSC glossary and explanatory notes; and from the Notes, Instructions and Tabulations document, which is available on request from the ABS.

Apparent progression rates and apparent retention rates


As direct measurement of the change in circumstances of individual students progressing through the education system is not currently possible, apparent measures, based on aggregate student data, have been developed to provide indicative measurements of student engagement in secondary education.

Apparent progression rates measure the proportion of a cohort of full-time students that moves from one grade to the next at an expected rate of progression of one grade per year. See Schools, Australia explanatory notes for further information.

Apparent retention rates

provides an indicative measure of the number of school students who have stayed in school, as at a designated grade and year. It is calculated by dividing the number of students in a cohort in a specific calendar year by the number of students in the same cohort in a previous reference year. It is expressed as a percentage of the respective cohort group against the cohort that those students would be expected to have come from, assuming an expected rate of progression of one grade a year. See Schools, Australia explanatory notes for further information.

Estimated resident population


The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the population. The ERP is an estimate of the population of Australia, based on data from the quinquennial ABS Census of Population and Housing, and is updated quarterly using information on births, deaths, interstate migration and net overseas migration provided by state and federal government departments. For further details see ABS, Cat. No. 3101.0, Australian Demographic Statistics, June 2014.

Full-time equivalent student


A full-time student is one who undertakes a workload equivalent to, or greater than, what is prescribed for a full-time student of that year level. This may vary between states and territories and from year to year. The minimum workload for a full-time student would ensure that a student could complete a given year level in a year.

A part-time student is one who undertakes a workload less than what is specified as full-time. The full-time equivalent (FTE) value of a part-time student is calculated by dividing a student's workload into what is considered by the state or territory to be the minimum full workload for a full-time student. Methods for estimating the FTE value of part-time students vary between states and territories due to different policy and administrative arrangements. The recorded FTE value for a student is capped at 1. The FTE of students is calculated by adding the number of full-time students and the FTE value of part-time students.

Full-time equivalent teaching staff


The full-time equivalent (FTE) value of staff is a measure of the level of staffing resources. Staff who are employed full-time and engaged solely on activities that fall within the scope of the NSSC have an FTE value of 1.0.

For staff not employed on a full-time basis, and/or engaged in a combination of in-scope and out-of-scope activities, the FTE value is calculated on the basis of the proportion of time spent on in-scope activities compared with staff who would be considered full-time.

Some states and territories are not able to calculate FTE values on a time-spent basis for all staff functions but use wages paid as a fraction of the full-time pay rate, or a resource allocation based formula. Some also use a pro-rata formula based on student or staff numbers to estimate aggregate FTE for some categories of staff. This includes staff at combined schools who are allocated to primary or secondary categories.

Indigenous status


For the purposes of the NSSC, a student is classified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin, based on information provided by the student, or their parent/guardian, on the school enrolment form. The Melbourne Declaration and national data collections use the term ‘Indigenous’ to refer to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Where possible, this report uses ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ in preference to ‘Indigenous’.

Grade and school level


All states and territories provide for 13 years of formal school education. Typically, schooling commences at age five, is compulsory from age six until at least age 15, and is completed at age 17 or 18. Primary education, including a preparatory year 1, lasts for either seven or eight years and is followed by secondary education of six or five years respectively.

For national reporting purposes, primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1–6 in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. For national reporting purposes, primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1–7 in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Junior secondary education includes the years from commencement of secondary schooling to Year 10, including ungraded secondary.

Senior secondary education comprises Years 11 and 12 in all states and territories.

Students attending special schools are allocated to either primary or secondary education 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 below for definition of special schools.)

Combined schools include both primary and secondary students.

Major function of staff


In some tables, staff have been categorised according to their major function, which is based on the duties in which they spend the majority of their time.

The functional categories for school staff are as follows:

(a) Teaching staff are staff who spend the majority of their time in contact with students. They support students either by direct class contact or on an individual basis, and are engaged to impart school curriculum. For the purposes of this report, teaching staff includes principals, deputy principals, campus principals and senior teachers mainly involved in administration.

(b) Specialist support staff are staff who perform functions to support students or teaching staff. While these staff may spend the majority of their time in contact with students, they are not employed or engaged to impart the school curriculum.

(c) Administrative and clerical staff are staff whose main duties are generally of a clerical/administrative nature. Teacher aides and assistants are included in this category, as they are seen to provide services to teaching staff rather than directly to students.

(d) Building operations, general maintenance and other staff are staff involved in the maintenance of buildings and grounds. Also included are staff providing associated technical services, other janitorial staff and staff who service equipment. School cleaners, whether salaried or employed on contract, are excluded.

National Schools Statistics Collection


The scope of the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) consists of all establishments that have as their major activity the administration or provision of full-time day primary, secondary and/or special education, or primary or secondary education by distance education. Major activity is based on the activity of students, or where this is not appropriate, for example, in administrative offices, on the activity of staff. The statistics in this publication do not include establishments, students or staff engaged in school-level education conducted by other institutions, in particular Technical and Further Education (TAFE) establishments.

The NSSC consists of government and non-government statistics. Government comprises all establishments (as defined), administered by the department/ministry of education under directors-general of education (or equivalent). Non-government comprises all such establishments not administered by the departments of education, including those establishments administered by any other government authority.

The two main sections of the NSSC are:

• non-finance statistics (numbers of schools, students and staff) collected for both government and non-government schools and published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its annual Schools, Australia (Cat. No. 4221.0) publication
• finance statistics (expenditure on salaries and non-salary costs collected for government schools) published by ACARA in the National Report on Schooling in Australia.

Primary education


See Grade and school level.

School


A school is an education establishment that satisfies all of the following criteria:

• Its major activity is the provision of full-time day primary or secondary education or the provision of primary or secondary distance education.
• It is headed by a principal (or equivalent) responsible for its internal operation.
• It is possible for students to enrol and be active in a course of study for a minimum of four continuous weeks, excluding breaks for school vacations.

The term ‘school’ in this publication includes schools in institutions and hospitals, mission schools and similar establishments.

The term 'school' in this publication excludes preschools, kindergarten centres, pre-primary schools or pre-primary classes in, or attached to, non-special schools, senior technical and agricultural colleges, evening schools, continuation classes and institutions such as business or coaching colleges.

Multi-campus arrangements are counted as one school. Multiple schools that amalgamate into a single multi-campus school decrease school counts in this publication.

School sector


The National Report on Schooling in Australia uses the term ‘school sector’ to distinguish between government schools, which are established and administered by state and territory governments through their education departments or authorities, and non-government schools, usually with some religious affiliation, which are established and operated under conditions determined by state and territory governments through their registration authorities.

School sector is also used to further distinguish between non-government schools as Catholic or independent. Catholic schools make up the largest group of non-government schools. Independent schools may be associated with other religions, other denominations, particular educational philosophies, or operate as single entities.

The NSSC/Schools Australia uses the term ‘affiliation’ rather than the term ‘school sector’ to make these distinctions.

A further distinction is sometimes made between systemic and non-systemic non- government schools. Systemic schools are formally affiliated with a group or system of schools. Non-systemic non-government schools do not belong to a system.

In Schools Australia and in this publication, Catholic non-systemic schools are counted as Catholic rather than as independent.

Secondary education


See Grade and school level.

Special school


A special school satisfies the definition of a school and requires one or more of the following characteristics to be exhibited by the student before enrolment is allowed:

• mental or physical disability or impairment
• slow learning ability
• social or emotional problems
• in custody, on remand or in hospital.

Special schools include special assistance schools, as defined under the Schools Assistance Act 2008.

Staff


Staff are persons engaged in the administration and/or provision of day primary, secondary or special school education, or primary or secondary education by distance education at in- scope education establishments.

For further details on the definition of staff, see Schools, Australia 2013 – Glossary

States and territories


Australia has a federal system of government comprising a national government, and the governments of the six states and two territories. In the National Report on Schooling in Australia, the national government is generally referred to as ‘the Australian Government’. The states and territories are listed in the order of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (Vic.), Queensland (Qld), South Australia (SA), Western Australia (WA), Tasmania (Tas.), the Northern Territory (NT) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). This is the order used in ABS data collections, including Schools Australia, and in ABS publications, including Yearbook Australia.

Student


A student is a person who, on the school census date, is formally enrolled at a school and is active in a primary, secondary and/or special education program at that school. Students may be enrolled at more than one school; however, jurisdictions employ strategies that ensure that, as far as possible, students are reported only once in this collection.

Persons not present at a school on the NSSC census date are included as students if they were expected to be absent for less than four continuous weeks (excluding school vacations).

Students undertaking VET in Schools (including through TAFE), school-based apprenticeships or traineeships, work placements or tertiary extension studies as a part of the student’s school enrolment are in scope for the NSSC. The workload of these subjects/programs (which may take place outside the school premises) is included in a student’s aggregate workload to determine whether a student is classified as full-time or part-time, and in calculating the full-time equivalent for part-time students.

Student attendance


The National Student Attendance Data Collection is undertaken by ACARA in collaboration with state and territory education departments (which collect and collate attendance data from government schools in each jurisdiction), the non-government school sectors and the Australian Department of Education (which collects and collates attendance data from non-government schools). The collection is conducted for students in Years 1–10 over the Semester 1 period in each school year.

The agreed national key performance measure (KPM) in 2013 for the rate of student attendance is:

The number of actual full-time equivalent student-days attended by full-time students in Years 1–10 as a percentage of the total number of possible student-days attended over the period.

ACARA has developed the National Standards for Student Attendance Data Reporting to establish a nationally consistent set of parameters for the collection and reporting of student attendance data across jurisdictions and school sectors. The national standards have been endorsed by all states and territories and are published on the ACARA website.

The national standards are formally due for implementation from the 2014 reporting year. However, advice from jurisdictions and school sectors is that most components of the standards were implemented in most states and territories in 2013.

Key components outlined in the national standards are listed below, together with exceptions to the standards for the 2013 reporting year, identified by school authorities:

• Attendance rate calculation formula

Exceptions 2013:

NT government schools:

Possible school days for the NT may include days where a student is not expected to attend (for example, if a school was temporarily closed due to a natural event). While this is a deviation from the national standards, the impact is minimal and may result in a slight understatement in attendance.

The NT data provided includes a small number of part-time students. This is a deviation from the national standards, where only full-time students are in scope. While this is a deviation from the national standards, the impact is minimal.

• Actual days in attendance (numerator)

Exceptions 2013:

NSW government schools:

As only full day absences are centrally collected and reported in the attendance measure and part-day absences are not collected, actual days in attendance is overstated.
NT government schools:

The NT data provided includes a small number of part-time students. This is a deviation from the national standards, where only full-time students are in scope. While this is a deviation from the national standards, the impact is minimal.


• Number of possible school days (denominator)

Exceptions 2013:

NSW government schools:

As students who change schools during the term are counted in the number of possible school days at both schools, the total number of possible school days is overstated.
NT government schools:

Possible school days for the NT may include days where a student is not expected to attend (for example, if a school was temporarily closed due to a natural event). While this is a deviation from the national standards, the impact is minimal and may result in a slight understatement in attendance.


• Level of disaggregation

No exceptions identified for 2013: 

• Data collection period

No exceptions identified for 2013: 

• School types

Exceptions 2013:

NSW government schools:

Schools classified as schools for specific purposes (SSP), intensive English centres (IEC), or distance education schools/centres (DEC) did not provide attendance data.
Tas. government schools

Tasmania has one school of Distance Education and one school that is attached to a Juvenile Justice Centre. The attendance for students at these schools is not reported.
NT government schools

Distance education schools are not included in the NT data. There have been issues in accurately recording attendance for these schools.


• Student enrolment types

 

Exceptions 2013:

Vic. government schools:

Includes both full- and part-time students. It was not previously possible to remove part-time (Part-time students represent only 0.05% of cohort).
Qld government schools

As noted in the standards, Queensland government schools exclude students enrolled full time at state level but across multiple schools.
SA government schools

Students enrolled full time at state level but across multiple schools in the same sector are excluded.
NT government schools

The NT data provided includes part-time students. This is a deviation from the national standards, where only full-time students are in scope.


• Movement during collection period

Exceptions 2013:

NSW government schools:

Students who change schools during the term are counted in the number of possible school days at both schools, but absences are recorded only at the school where the absence was incurred.


• Part-day absences

Exceptions 2013:

NSW government schools:

Only full-day absences were centrally collected and reported in the attendance measure. Part-day absences were not collected.
Tas. government schools:

Only whole day absences are reported in 2013.
NT government schools

Students attending less than half a day are not included in the numerator.


• Ungraded students

Exceptions 2013:

NSW government schools:

Ungraded students enrolled in schools for specific purposes were not included in the absence collections.


• Treatment of incidents/absences

Exceptions 2013:

NSW government schools:

Extended holidays where students were granted an exemption from attendance were not included in absence counts.
Vic. government schools

Accept school coding for absence reason.
Tas. government schools:

Disciplinary (out-of-school) incidents are treated as present in the 2013 attendance data.
NT government schools:

Possible school days may include days where a student is not expected to attend. For example, student attendance may not be expected if the school is closed due to a natural event; a student is being held at a remand centre; or a student has a dual enrolment at another school. However, these days are included in the possible school days calculations.


 

Survey of Education and Work


The Survey of Education and Work, conducted annually by the ABS, provides selected information on participation in education, highest educational attainment, transition from education to work, and current labour force and demographic characteristics for the population aged 15–74 years. Data from Education and Work are used to report participation and attainment data, including key performance measures for schooling, in the National Report on Schooling in Australia.

Teaching staff


Teaching staff are staff who spend the majority of their time in contact with students. They support students either by direct class contact or on an individual basis, and are engaged to impart school curriculum.

For the purposes of this report, teaching staff includes principals, deputy principals, campus principals and senior teachers mainly involved in administration. Teacher aides and assistants, and specialist support staff are excluded, except assistant teachers working in homeland learning centres and community schools in the Northern Territory.

User cost of capital


In the government budget context, the user cost of capital is usually defined as the opportunity cost of funds tied up in capital assets used to deliver government services.

Capital charging is the actual procedure used for applying this cost of capital to the asset management process. As such, it is a means of representing the cost of capital used in the provision of government budgetary outputs.






1 The preparatory year (first year of full-time schooling) is known as Preparatory in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, Kindergarten in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, Reception in South Australia, Pre-primary in Western Australia and Transition in the Northern Territory. In some jurisdictions, part-time programs that precede the preparatory year are conducted in primary schools (for example, Kindergarten in Western Australia). However, these programs are outside the scope of the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) and data on them are not, in general, included in this report.

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