Schools: Language diversity in NSW, 2016

This bulletin was originally published 23 February 2017.

Image: Schools: Language diversity in NSW, 2016

Overview

CESE’s Schools: Language diversity in NSW, 2016 bulletin summarises the diversity of students with language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) who were enrolled in NSW government schools in March 2016. The census of students from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) was conducted on 4 March 2016 in all NSW government schools, including preschools, intensive English centres and distance education centres.

Summary

Introduction

In 2016, 66.9 per cent of students who are enrolled in NSW government schools come from homes where English is the only language. The 2016 collection of language background data shows that about one third (33.1 per cent) of students in NSW government schools come from homes where languages other than English are spoken. The proportion of LBOTE students rose by 0.8 percentage points from 2015 and 1.6 percentage point from 2014.

Top ten language backgrounds of LBOTE students in NSW government schools

The largest single language group of LBOTE students in 2016 is Arabic (35,732 students) and the largest combined language group is Chinese, which comprises Mandarin, Cantonese and Other Chinese language backgrounds (42,259). In 2016 the top ten languages represent nearly 60 per cent of all LBOTE students. Since 2006, the top three language groups have grown significantly, with Chinese growing 15.5 per cent, while Arabic and Vietnamese have grown 37.7 per cent and 22.6 per cent respectively over that period. Hindi has had the largest percentage growth over the period of 45.5 per cent. The top 10 languages in NSW have not changed since 2006, however the order of the largest language groups has changed. Italian has slipped from the seventh largest language in 2006 to the tenth in 2016, while Hindi has moved from sixth to fourth position.

What are the language backgrounds of our students?

There are 226 different language backgrounds of LBOTE students at NSW government schools. After Chinese and Arabic the next largest language background is Vietnamese, followed by Hindi and Filipino/Tagalog. Three European language backgrounds, Greek, Spanish and Italian, also feature in the top ten language backgrounds. In March 2016, there were 260,599 NSW government primary and secondary students identified as having a language background other than English, which comprises 33.1 per cent of the 786,248 NSW government school students overall.

Where are LBOTE students in NSW?

The concentration of students from LBOTE backgrounds is greater in the Sydney metropolitan area than in other parts of NSW. Across all Sydney schools 52 per cent of the students have a language background other than English. Sydney-West has the highest LBOTE student enrolment of 53,926 representing 65.5 per cent of all students enrolled. North West NSW has the lowest LBOTE student enrolment of 2,914 representing 4.3 per cent of all students enrolled.

Location of LBOTE students from different language backgrounds

Nearly 60 per cent of all LBOTE students are located in Sydney- West, Sydney-South or Sydney-South West. Students from Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, and French language backgrounds are more likely to be located in Sydney-North, whereas students from Italian, Thai and Russian language backgrounds are more likely to be located in Sydney-Inner. Many students from Indian language backgrounds are located in Sydney-West, which has the largest proportions of students from Hindi (35.9%), Urdu (35.5%), Tamil (49.5%), Punjabi (48.5%), and Gujarati (67.5%) language backgrounds. Sydney-West also has the largest proportion of students from Persian (excluding Dari) and Dari language backgrounds. Sydney-South West contains almost all students from Assyrian and Chaldean (89.7%), Khmer (83.8%) and Lao (79.6%) language backgrounds, plus the largest concentrations of students with Vietnamese (54.3%), Serbian (49.4%) and Samoan (47.9%) language backgrounds. Sydney-South has the largest proportions of students from Arabic (38.1%), Greek (46.6%), Bengali (28.7%), Indonesian (24.2%) and Macedonian (41.0%) language backgrounds. The only language background with a significant concentration of students outside the Sydney metropolitan area is Macedonian with 27.2 per cent of these students located in South East NSW.

Location of LBOTE students by level of schooling

For schools in Sydney-North and Sydney-Inner the proportion of LBOTE students as a percentage of enrolments is more than 10 percentage points higher for secondary schools than for primary schools.

LBOTE students Kindergarten to Year 12

As a percentage of enrolments in any particular academic year up to Year 10, the percentage of LBOTE students in NSW government schools is highest in Kindergarten at 34.3 per cent. This percentage is higher for the senior years with 35.3 per cent for Year 11 and 38.3 per cent for Year 12 students. This is indicative of higher rates of retention to Year 12 of LBOTE students compared to English speaking students, as well as the increased number of full fee paying international students in these years. There is a higher proportion of LBOTE students enrolled in NSW government secondary schools than in primary schools. LBOTE student enrolments represented 32.7 per cent of all primary enrolments and 33.9 per cent of all secondary enrolments in NSW government schools.

What languages do newly arrived students speak?

The total number of new arrival students in 2015 was 7,992. This is almost unchanged from last year’s total of 7,958.

What language backgrounds do preschool students come from?

Government preschools enrolled 1,961 students of language background other than English in 2016, representing 47.2 per cent of all government preschool enrolments.

For more information

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