National Report on Schooling in Australia 2012

3.3 Staff

Staff numbers

At the time of the schools census in August 2012, there were 258,986 full-time equivalent (FTE)¹ teaching staff across primary and secondary schooling in Australia. The number of FTE teaching staff by school sector, school level and sex is shown in Table 3.4.

Table 3.4 Full-time equivalent (FTE) of teaching s

Staff employed in special schools are allocated to either primary or secondary education on a pro-rata basis. Components may not add to totals due to rounding.

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2012

See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 2 and Table 3

Australia’s teaching workforce was predominantly female, with women accounting for 70 per cent of FTE teachers and men making up 30 per cent. This was most pronounced at the primary level where FTE teaching staff was made up of 81 per cent females and only 19 per cent males. In secondary schooling, the balance between male and female teachers was closer, but females still accounted for 58 per cent of the total.

Across Australia, 65 per cent of FTE teachers were employed by the government school sector, 19 per cent by the Catholic school sector and 16 per cent by the independent sector.

The numbers of FTE teaching staff by school sector from 2008 to 2012 are shown in Table 3.5. Between 2008 and 2012 the total number of FTE teaching staff grew by 11,879 or 4.8 per cent. The rise in teaching staff numbers was concentrated in non-government schools with 6,078 extra teachers (a rise of 7.1 per cent) compared to 5,801 (an increase of 3.6 per cent) in government schools.

Table 3.5 Full-time equivalent (FTE) of teaching s

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2012

See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 3

Student–teacher ratios

The student–teacher ratio is calculated as the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students per FTE teaching staff. A lower student–teacher ratio means there is a smaller number of students per teacher. However, while lower student–teacher ratios would tend to allow smaller class sizes, ratios are not, by themselves, reliable indicators of class size. Average student–teacher ratios do not take into account the different requirements of different age groups/school years, of special needs students or of different subjects, especially in secondary schools. Nor do they reflect other administrative or specialist duties undertaken by teaching staff. These factors help to explain the consistently higher average student– teacher ratios in primary compared to secondary schooling.

Table 3.6 summarises average student–teacher ratios in Australia in 2012 across the three school sectors.

Table 3.6 Full-time equivalent (FTE) studentteach

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 42210, Schools, Australia, 2012.

See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 4

For all Australian schools, the average FTE student–teacher ratio in 2012 was 13.8, with little overall difference between government schools (13.9) and non-government schools (13.6). However, within the non-government sector, student–teacher ratios were noticeably lower in independent schools.

Across all primary schools in 2012 the average FTE student–teacher ratio was 15.5 compared to 12.0 for secondary schools, and there were higher ratios for primary than secondary schools in all three sectors. Overall, the student–teacher ratio was lower in government primary schools than non-government primary schools but higher in government than non-government secondary schools.

As shown in Table 3.7, the average student–teacher ratio across all schools decreased marginally from 13.9 students per teacher in 2008 to 13.8 students per teacher in 2012. Ratios fell or remained constant in all sectors and levels of schooling over this period.

Table 3.7 Full-time equivalent (FTE) studentteach 

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2012

See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 4

International comparisons

On average, in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries in 2011 (the latest year available), there were 15.4 students for every teacher in primary schools and 13.6 students per teacher at the secondary level. Most, but not all, OECD countries conformed to the pattern of higher student–teacher ratios for primary than for secondary schooling. Australia’s average student–teacher ratio in 2011 of 15.6 for primary was slightly higher than the OECD average. Australia’s average student–teacher ratio of 12.0 for secondary was lower than the OECD average. Ratios for Australia were lower than the United Kingdom (19.9 and 16.3), Japan (18.1 and 13.1) and Germany (16.3 and 14.0) but higher than ratios for Spain (13.2 and 10.1) and Norway (10.4 and 9.8).2 A comparison of student–teacher ratios in OECD countries and other Group of 20 nations for 2011 is included as Table 5 in Part 9: Additional Statistics.



¹In the calculation of numbers of full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff, a part-time teacher is counted as a proportion of a full-time teacher according to the time spent in teaching activities compared to a full-time teacher in the same school system or school. (See Part 10: Glossary for definitions of FTE and teaching staff.)

² Source: OECD, Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, Table D2.2 based on UNESCO Institute for Statistics (World Education Indicators Programme)