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The National Report on Schooling in Australia 2017 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 2017 towards the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians agreed by Australian education ministers in 2008.
The National Report on Schooling in Australia 2017 addresses the eight areas of commitment to action specified in the Melbourne Declaration. This written report 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 2017 and for the nine-year period 2009–2017 inclusive is included.
More extensive data sets are available through the National Report on Schooling data portal, which is also a component of the National Report on Schooling in Australia. 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 ninth annual National Report on Schooling in Australia to address the Melbourne Declaration and the twenty-ninth annual report overall.
Editions of the report for the years 2009–2016 are available on the ACARA website. Editions prior to 2009 are available on the Education Council website.
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 2017, 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 – 70.3 per cent – of schools are government schools, established and administered by state and territory governments through their education departments or authorities. The remaining 29.7 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 (65.6 per cent) of school students3 are enrolled in government schools and approximately one-third (34.4 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 64.1 per cent of school teachers4 employed by the government school sector and 35.9 per cent by non-government schools. Part 1.3 reports on staff numbers and student/teacher ratios.
School, student and teacher numbers in 2017 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 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.
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, 2017; See also National Report on Schooling data portal.
Overview of Part 2
Part 2, ‘Policies and priorities’, outlines the national policy context for Australian schooling in 2017 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 2017.
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 2017. They also list examples of state and territory initiatives relating to the commitments.
Progress towards the commitments to action reported for 2017 include:
- The Education Council established the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Partnerships Forum, bringing together leaders from industry and education to facilitate a strategic approach to school-industry partnerships in STEM.
- A number of states and territories implemented new and continuing initiatives for early childhood education, for the middle years of schooling and for senior secondary schooling.
- ACARA launched the new Australian Curriculum website.
- The tenth annual tests in literacy and numeracy for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 were conducted through the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).
- Work was progressed on the transition of NAPLAN testing to an online assessment platform, as agreed by education ministers.
- The fifth three-yearly NAP sample assessment in information and communication technology (ICT) literacy for Years 6 and 10 students was conducted online.
- The Australian Government established the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education.
- ACARA launched the National Report on Schooling data portal.
- The eighth release of the My School website occurred.
- The Australian Government established the National School Resourcing Board to provide greater independent oversight over Commonwealth school funding.
Overview of Part 3
Part 3, ‘Measuring and reporting performance’, reports on the performance of Australian schooling in 2017, using the nationally agreed key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling specified in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2015.
Part 3 reports on 18 of the 26 agreed KPMs5 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 eight years 2009–2016 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 2017 include that:
5 The remaining eight KPMs, covering student achievement in the NAP international assessments and in NAP sample assessments in Civics and Citizenship and Science Literacy do not apply to the 2017 reporting year.
- The national school enrolment rate for the 6–15-year-old population was 100.0 per cent.
- The average national attendance rate for students in Years 1–10 was 92.4 per cent. Average attendance rates were lower for Years 8, 9 and 10 than for Years 1–7.
- At 83.2 per cent, the average attendance rate for Indigenous students was 9.8 percentage points lower than for non-Indigenous students (93.0 per cent). There was an increase in this gap of 0.1 percentage points in 2017.
- Based on data collected for 2017, which excluded NSW government school students, 77.1 per cent of all Australian students in Years 1–10 attended school for at least 90 per cent of school days. However, only 48.8 per cent of Indigenous students within this group met the 90 per cent benchmark.
- NAPLAN participation rates for reading, writing and numeracy 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 national minimum standard in NAPLAN tests was over 90 per cent for all year groups tested in reading, and for Years 3 and 5 in writing. In writing, the proportion of students achieving at or above the minimum standard was 87.9 per cent for Year 7 and 81.6 per cent for Year 9.
- 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 53 per cent and 54 per cent, the proportions of Year 6 and Year 10 students achieving at or above the proficient standard in NAP ICT Literacy were statistically similar to when this sample assessment was last conducted in 2014.
The national apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 increased for the fifth year in a row: by 0.4 percentage points to 83.3 per cent. The apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students increased by 2.1 percentage points to 63.0 per cent, with the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous rates narrowing by 1.8 percentage points to 21.3 percentage points.
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, increased from 88.4 per cent in 2016 to 89.0 per cent in 2017.
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, decreased significantly from 89.2 per cent in 2016 to 86.4 per cent in 2017.
Table 1 summarises the KPMs for 2017 in comparison with 2016 (or the most recent previous year for which comparable data exist).