National Education Report: A Snapshot of Schools in Australia in 2013

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

National Education Report | A Snapshot of Schools in Australia in 2013 | McCrindle ResearchAustralians are more educated today than they have been at any other point in history. The number of students completing undergraduate and postgraduate courses today is on the rise and for the first time in Australian history more than half the population aged 15-64 have a post-secondary qualification (51%). Over 70% of the newest wave of high school graduates, Australia’s 4.6 million Generation Zs, are pursuing further education and training, with almost half going on to university. How is today’s education system providing for this Generation of lifelong learners? Here is a snapshot of current and future trends in primary and secondary schools across Australia.

Click here to download the full report.

Students Today

At the beginning of the 2012 school year, there were 3,589,986 students enrolled in Australian schools. This is a 1.4% increase from enrolments in the previous year, and a significant 5.5% increase from 2006. From 2011-2012, most of these increases were attributed to growing enrolment of students in primary schools (2.0% increase). The largest increase in student numbers across Australia occurred in Queensland (2.1%) and the only decrease across the states was found in Tasmania (ABS cat. 4221.0, Schools, 2012).

From primary schools through to the early years of secondary schools, there is a fairly constant proportion of male versus female students, with the proportion of male students two percent higher than females. In Year 11 this trend reverses, and by Year 12, there are are 3% more female students. This trend continues into higher education where there are a higher proportion of females than males completing undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications (ABS Census 2011).

Public versus Private Education

Since the 1970s there has been a significant rise in the proportion of students enrolling in non-government schools. Whereas non-government schools educated only 22% of all students in 1970, by 2012 that figure had risen to 35% (ISCA, 2012). The fact that more than 2 in 5 high school students are sent to Independent non-government schools is part of a broader trend towards paying for services which were once government provisions. From private hospitals to the privatization of public transport options and even the growth of toll roads, Australians are increasingly likely to pay for something that they value.

In 2012, in continuation with trends from previous year, Independent schools continued to observe the greatest proportional increase of student enrolment. While government schools continue to educate the majority of Australian students (2,342,379 students, that is 65%), there were 736,595 students (21%) enrolled in Catholic schools and 511,012 students (14%) enrolled in the Independent school sector.

The percentage of students enrolled in government schools in 2012 was greatest in the Northern Territory, where 73.6% of all students attend government schools, and least in the ACT, where just over half (57.3%) of students attend government schools. Australians value choice, and today’s parents are prepared to pay for an education if they feel it will align more closely with their values, expectations, and aspirations.

Schools: Bricks and Mortar

In 2011 there were 9,435 schools in Australia, including primary, secondary, combined and special schools. 71% of these were government schools (6,705), 18% were Catholic schools (1.710) and 11% were Independent schools (1,020). Most independent schools (84%) have a religious affiliation with 75.1% being Christian and 9% a religious affiliation other than Christianity. The remainder of independent schools comprise of special schools, international schools, indigenous schools, and community schools (ABS cat. 4221.1, Schools, Australia 2011; ISCA, Snapshot, 2012).

The greatest proportion of independent schools was in Western Australia (13%) and the least in Victoria (9%). The proportion of Catholic schools varied more significantly, with the greatest proportion of Catholic schools in the ACT (23%) and the least in the Northern Territory (8%).

While the total number of students across all sectors has increased in a generation, the proportion of Independent and Catholic schools in Australia is increasing. In 2001, Catholic and Independent schools made up 27.7% of total schools in Australia. Ten years later, in 2011, they made up 28.9% of schools. Since 1985, the increase in students at independent schools has grown by 5 times the increase in government schools (298,844 compared to 64,152). Since 1985 the Australian population has increased more than 40%, and the number of babies born is breaking new records (now exceeding 300,000 per year). This has resulted in a growth of students in schools at all levels and across all sectors.

The figures above represent the percentage of primary, secondary, combined and special schools within Australia. Combining government and non-government schools, there were 6312 primary schools, 1397 secondary schools, 1306 combined schools, and 420 special schools around the country. Of these, 77% of primary schools, 73% of secondary schools, and 79% of special schools belonged to the government sector. In contrast to this, a significant 61% of combined schools were a part of the non-government sector.

Teachers: Education’s Lifeblood

The challenge for the education sector, which has an ageing workforce, is to attract and retain Generation Y teachers. The top 5 attraction and retention factors that Gen Y want are what schools have to offer, but schools need to get better at communicating these. These factors are work-life balance, a social workplace culture, a varied and interesting job description, career progression opportunities and ongoing training. In 2011, there were 255,110 full-time equivalent teaching staff over primary and secondary schools in Australia. Of these, 165,272 (65%) were government school teaching staff, 48 393 (19.0%) were Catholic school teaching staff, and 41,445 (16%) were independent school teaching staff.

Australia’s teaching staff are predominantly female (65%). The ratio of male to female teachers has decreased over the last 15 years. In 1997, 7 out of every 20 teachers was male. By 2011, the number of male teachers had dropped to 6 out of every 20 teachers. Government schools have a lower percentage of male teachers (28.7%) compared to Catholic schools (30.6%) and Independent schools (36.2%).

There are significantly more male teachers at secondary levels of education that at primary. In government primary schools in 2011, 19% of staff were male, and in non-government primary schools, 20% of staff were male. In government secondary schools, 40.8% of teaching staff were male; in non-government secondary schools, 43.2% were male (ABS cat. 4221.0 Schools, Australia, 2011).

Student-Teacher Ratio on Decline

Between 1997 and 2011, we have seen an 18.8% increase in the total number of FTE teaching staff. This increase in teacher staffing corresponds with a decrease in the teacher to student ratio in both government and non-government schools. The national average FTE student-teacher ratio in both secondary and primary schools during 2011 was 13.8. Across all primary schools, this ratio was 15.6, with a ratio of 15.3 in government schools, 17.5 in Catholic schools, and 14.8 in Independent schools.

The student-teacher ratio was slightly lower in secondary schools, with a 12.0 ratio across the board. Independent schools again had the lowest ratio at 10.4 FTE teaching staff per student, whereas the Catholic schools had 12.8 and government schools 12.2 (ABS cat. 4221.0, 2011).

The education offered by Australian schools is internationally regarded as one of the world’s best. Additionally, teachers in Australia have been amongst the most innovative professionals in responding to the technological and generational shifts Australia has experienced over the last 3 decades. The strengths and challenges, however, maintaining a world-class, relevant, and technologically innovative education system for the decades ahead.

Click here to download the full report.

For more information or media comment, call Mark McCrindle on 0411 5000 90 or Eliane Miles at, 02 8824 3422.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


Tuesday Trends princess charlotte population milestone Engineering Manager Kirsten Brewer mortgage forum media release owning a home NT seasons Merry Christmas tertiary education criminal follow overcast Assistant Store Manager learner shbc Territory social trends social analysis workplace culture goals keynote Queensland: QLD analysis baby boom presentation sunburnt country statistics government future of work urban ethnography households ultimo housing trends social life Financial Planning Week vegemite family mentor SA faux-cilise Australian Census annual income engage Res Vis suburban living mover and shaker social shifts eliane miles social lives report new york times internet FPA year 7 Australia Day 2017 Northern Territory litter New Zealand global generations quote affordable average aussie Duchess of Cambridge Christchurch educhat Charlotte wedding public holiday socialites royal family huffington post NSW mccrindle research teaching states Australian Trends gold coast Adelaide dream world Australian demographics village data visualisation rising house prices school students Aussies 1975 staying in New Zeland ashley mckenzie DIY tips The ABC of XYZ Valentine’s Day community employers marrickville gender divorce rate communicate winter public speaking home ownership narcissism youth 1968 conference presentation apartment couple teachers optus Aussie salary renter of the future publication young australians trends analyst work-life product Northern Beaches australian social research church brisbane community event relevant 1994 entrepreneur Melbourne demographic trends identity university degree market research divorce high school TDE shopper's pick housing growth brands engagement slideshare millenials business 2014 February 16 award Myth marriage society trends renting personal growth stats dare to dream easy rider program Australian Home curiosity meals sector facts cold marriages alpha crows nest TAS rich research services FOMO interactive transport visual event rule keeper Tasmania cost high density innovation study christmas education sector world youth day entrepreneurial australian communities forum Wodonga fears conference poor gen alpha generation Z professional rent students professional development mccrindle forecasting nfp communications 23 million environment change responsive lifestyle not for profit jobs Real Estate Institute of Victoria mining boom social commentary "know the times" training faux-ciliser religion teleworking survey design 2017 motivate DESTEL case study economy visualisation increasing densification logan life hopes employment generational trends pyrmont cash Australian schools research define organisational culture housing retirement focus groups Crime Rates woolworths CBD demographic consumerism housing affordability royal 24,000,000 sports townhouses English waverton safe Generation X builders 10 years ideas poker master Financial Planning Association sentiments skills IT Specialists ipswich ACT australia cancel plans WA Northern beaches Event christianity national crime rates crime middle class Hornsby Shire Council workshop panel baby name predictions data resilience internships technology tv collaboration going out thrive baby names grandparents innovative urban taskforce vegetarian socialising careers names millionth house prices brand experience emerging trends holidays communication World Water Day weather finance happiness spend earnings balance millennials research visualisation collaborative 24 million parents ageing population real McCrindle Speakers global financial crisis acf15 focus group financial independence water sector wide Geoff Brailey relational economic house price social enquiry Australian Bureau of Statistics REIV Conference Wagga Wagga school satisfaction wages property price networking national private wealth Bathburst culture Australian communities budget Population Clock deloitte ACF Australia Day wealth and income distribution Canberra Births repayments manly entertainment educated not-for-profit consumer society sunny days Northern Beaches Christian School living google for education politics lalor park mccrindle tea wealth Scouts Real Estate social researcher long weekend youth unemployment investment PSI Social Trend prince george rental stress volunteers royal baby demographer outsourcing personalities research data wealth and income affordability suburbs charity teacher father's day winter blues staff household clothing recap Generation Y high density living greatness buildings women conference speaker celebration trends of 2017 dessert etiquette cooking census cars baby name trends Christmas lunch commute Channel 7 fresh kate middleton property market darwin news professional speaker typical australian Love video Mark McCrindle Sydney keynote speaker population Wellington Queensland in depth interviews NEETs dreaming unaffordable australian communities trends report tea men intern moreton bay data analyst weekly earnings trend tuesday Sydney leadership trend leader plans urban living education research generation alpha urban living index city Netflix state ashley fell 2012 daily commute wellbeing global residents local communities capital cities trends of 2016 insights optimistic online shopping education future resource goal media commentary royal influence infographic blaxland language suburb home researcher GPO national wealth priorities growth social change coffee leadership workshop google results thought leadership sydneycity property learning unemployment Christmas presents Christmas season low density cost of living small business tattoos cartodb click jobs of the future anzac energy ABS area optus my business awards The Daily Edition HSC learning styles financial parenting work mates rain January 26th Australian Communities Trends South Australia Deaths social media social researchers workforce debt schools Australian Dream summer paying to work sustainable non profit perth emerging technologies baby boomers insight snapshot brand Channel Seven learn ACF 2016 omnibus sydneysiders post rationalism home owner population map moderators guide holiday Do It Yourself capital city sector wide study internship 1980 daily telegraph sun easter hills shire generation baby name Gen Y online 2015 offenders tableau Tuesday Trend demographics toys authenticity in the media mythbusting earn student JOMO investor future proof workplace domestic wealth distribution future-proof mccrindle in the media schools students hobart EFF future selfie gen z menai teach business index 2020 bondi trends graphs keynote speaker speakers proactive sydney speaker 2016 children Financial Planning Association of Australia Australian Families wolloomooloo experience population growth cancelling plans Research Executive generations australians staying home more Gen X the changing face of baby cloudy days New South Wales monarchy debate entrepreneurs of today high density apartments REIV National Conference presentations eliane career 2013 know the times shopping tuesday cancelling event Western Australia environmental scanning school financial dreams hello fresh ease of travel shifts financial future education future report Education Future Forum social impact year 12 social stay home media community engagement mateship child care land of the middle class income survey emerging generations young people group session sydney event mother's day mythbusters demographic transformations research pack future proofing 40 million work education victoria families Word Up housing market local participants newspaper list house organisations group equip Caregiver cultural diversity friendship VIC Australians futurist neutral bay food customer future of education rise of local challenge growing population social research friends media activity twentyseventeen qualitative research aussie culture digital events System's Architect megatrends marketing geomapping hornsby communities Royals faux-cilising Kiwi social commentator potts point university mobile