Schools: InBrief mid-year census 2019

This bulletin was originally published 27 August 2020.

Image: Schools: InBrief mid year census 2019


CESE’s Schools: InBrief mid year census, 2019 bulletin summarises the results of the census of students in NSW government schools, and the census of NSW non-government schools undertaken by the Australian Government Department of Education.

The mid year census includes data on NSW Government schools (preschool, primary, secondary, central/community and special) and students (age at 1 July, grades, full-time, part-time, gender and Aboriginality).


NSW Government

Full-time equivalent (FTE) enrolments
Primary enrolments 493,608.0
Secondary enrolments 306,327.8
SSP enrolments 5,737.0
Total enrolments 805,672.8
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
Total Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander enrolments 64,692.5
Percent Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander enrolments 8.0%
Part-time students
Number of part-time students 1,698
FTE enrolments 1,109.8
Preschool students
Number of preschool students 4,316
FTE enrolments 2,294.5
NSW government schools
Primary and infant schools 1,605
Central/community schools 68
Secondary schools 399
Schools for specific purposes (SSPs) 115
Environmental education centres (EECs) 23
Total government schools 2,210
Preschools attached to primary/infant schools 99
Separate preschools 1
Total preschools 100

NSW non-government

Full-time equivalent (FTE) enrolments
Primary enrolments 210,409.3
Secondary enrolments 215,581.7
Total enrolments 425,991.0
NSW non-government schools
Primary schools 499
Secondary schools 144
Primary/secondary schools 249
Special schools 59
Total non-government schools 951

Aboriginal enrolments as a percentage of total enrolments

The proportion of students identifying as Aboriginal has increased noticeably over the last 10 years, rising from 5.5% in 2009 to 8% in 2019. The largest proportion of Aboriginal students in 2019 was in Years 7 to 10 at 9.1%, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from 2018. The proportion of Aboriginal students in Kindergarten to Year 2 and Years 3 to 6 were similar at 8.0% and 7.9% respectively. Years 11 to 12 had the lowest overall proportion of Aboriginal students in 2019, at 5.6% of total student enrolments.

2019 enrolments

The total number of full-time equivalent students in NSW Government schools increased by 7,650.6 or 1.0%, from 798,022.2 in 2018 to 805,672.8 in 2019. This is the eleventh year in a row that total government school enrolments have increased, after a sustained downward trend between 1998 and 2008.

From 2012 to 2016 the increase in total number of full-time equivalent students in NSW Government schools was driven by increasing primary enrolments, which was greater than the decrease in secondary enrolments. However from 2017, secondary enrolments began to record increases for the first time since 2011. In 2019, secondary enrolments grew significantly, by 5,012.6 students (1.7%) from 2018. Primary enrolments increased at a slower rate, by 2,565 students (0.5%). Enrolments at schools for specific purposes (SSPs) also increased by 73 students (1.3%).

Enrolments (full-time equivalent) by ABS Statistical Area Level 4 groups

In 2019, 58.6% of government students were enrolled in schools within the Sydney area. The proportion of primary students enrolled in Sydney schools was 59.8%. All statistical area groupings within the Sydney area experienced an increase in primary enrolments in 2019 from 2018, except Sydney-South which saw a small decrease of 0.4%. By contrast, enrolments fell in all statistical area groupings outside Sydney, with North West NSW experiencing the largest decrease of 468 enrolments (1.2%). For secondary enrolments, all statistical area groupings increased in 2019, except North East NSW which saw a small decrease of 0.3%. This was the first year since 2010 that secondary enrolments rose in almost all statistical area groupings. Sydney-North, Sydney-South West and Sydney-West have the highest number of enrolments, with 90,632.2, 90,291.7 and 90,025.2 enrolments respectively.

Aboriginal enrolments (full-time equivalent)

In North West NSW 25.0% of students identified as Aboriginal, compared with 5.6% or less in each statistical area group in Sydney. The majority (76.8%) of NSW government Aboriginal students are enrolled outside of Sydney. Although the six Sydney statistical area groupings account for 58.6% of all enrolments in NSW, only 23.2% of NSW Aboriginal students are enrolled in Sydney. North West NSW and North East NSW had the highest Aboriginal enrolments at 25.6% and 15.3% of all Aboriginal students in these areas respectively. Overall, Aboriginal student enrolments have increased by 2,760 students or 4.5% from 61,932.5 in 2018 to 64,692.5 in 2019.

Government enrolment share (full-time equivalent)

Government enrolments increased by 7,650.6 in 2019, compared with an increase of 5,321.3 for non-government schools. The growth in government enrolments from 2018 to 2019 is mostly driven by a large increase in government secondary aged enrolments of 5,050.6 students. This is the first time since 2010 that secondary enrolments have been the main factor driving government enrolment growth, and this is the largest increase of secondary students in government schools observed for at least 20 years. In 2019, total government share for Aboriginal students was 84.3%, 20.1 percentage points higher than for non-Aboriginal students (64.2%). The primary government enrolment share for Aboriginal students in 2019 was 86.2%, 17.1 percentage points higher than non-Aboriginal students at 69.1%. The secondary enrolment share for Aboriginal students in 2019 was 81.5%, 24 percentage points higher than for non- Aboriginal students (57.6%).

Government preschool

The number of children enrolled in government preschools decreased by 206 children from 4,522 in 2018 to 4,316 in 2019. This is the largest decrease in preschool enrolments experienced in more than 10 years. Full-time equivalent enrolments decreased at a slightly lower rate, by 95.2, from 2,389.7 in 2018 to 2,294.5 in 2019, which indicates that some children were enrolled for more days in 2019. Aboriginal preschool enrolments accounted for 16.3% of FTE enrolments in 2019, an increase of 0.9 percentage points from 2018.

Apparent retention rate

2019 saw decreases in apparent retention rates across all cohorts, with Year 7 to 12 and Year 7 to 11 dropping by 1.1 and 0.9 percentage points respectively. the smallest decrease was for Year 10 to Year 11 girls, which fell slightly from 91.2% in 2018 to 91.1% in 2019. The largest decreases observed in 2019 were in Year 7 to Year 11 girls and Year 7 to Year 12 boys, which recorded drops of 1.3 and 1.2 percentage points respectively.

For more information

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