Schools: Language diversity in NSW, 2012

This bulletin was originally published 30 January 2013.

Image: Schools: Language diversity in NSW, 2012


CESE’s Schools: Language diversity in NSW, 2012 bulletin summarises the diversity of students with language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) who were enrolled in NSW government schools in March 2012. The census of students from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) was conducted on 12 March 2012 in all NSW government schools, including preschools, intensive English centres and distance education centres.



In 2012, 69.8% of students who are currently enrolled in NSW government schools come from homes where English is the only language. The annual collection of language background data shows that the language diversity of the 30.2% of students who come from homes where languages other than English are spoken has increased since 2011.

What are the language backgrounds of our students?

With 30,171 students, or 13.2 of all LBOTE students, Arabic remains the most common single language background. This is just 0.1 percentage point higher than in 2011. Mandarin (8.4%) and Cantonese (8.0%) are the next most common languages, followed by Vietnamese at 6.6%. Students from all the Chinese language groups combined make up 17.3% of LBOTE students (39,719).

Where are the students?

The 4 metropolitan regions (Northern Sydney, South Western Sydney, Sydney and Western Sydney) enrol over 55 percent of all students in NSW government schools. These four regions enrol over 90 percent of the students who have a language background other than English. South Western Sydney has the highest LBOTE student enrolments (86,638). New England has the lowest LBOTE student enrolments (728). Assyrian, Khmer and Lao were the languages with the highest concentration in one region (South Western Sydney). There is a larger proportion of LBOTE students enrolled in NSW government high schools than in primary schools. LBOTE student enrolments represented 29.5 percent of all primary enrolments and 31.2 percent of all secondary enrolments in government schools.

What languages do newly arrived students speak?

Languages spoken by ‘new arrival’ students are counted on a different basis than LBOTE. The students in this table are counted based on the main languages spoken by the students themselves, while the LBOTE count includes students who speak another language and those with a parent/carer who speaks another language. The total number of new arrival students in 2011 was 6,574.

What language backgrounds do preschool students come from?

Government preschools enrolled 1808 students of language background other than English in 2012, representing 42 percent of all government preschool enrolments. Preschool enrolments are reported by largest language groups. LBOTE enrolments less than 10 (approximately 0.5% ) are included in Other Language Groups.

For more information

To access data on NSW government school student attendance, visit the NSW Education Data Hub.
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