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A vote of confidence in NSW public education

Student numbers in NSW public schools increased for the ninth year in a row and secondary school enrolments grew for the first time since 2011, according to the department’s 2017 census.

Secondary school students

The department's 2017 census reveals an increase to NSW public school enrolments over the past five years.

In the past five years NSW public school enrolments have risen by more than 8,500 students a year on average. In 2017 there were 791,040 students in more than 2,200 public schools.

The trends are tracked in ‘Schools: InBrief mid-year census 2017’, published by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation.

The Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, said it was encouraging to see sustained growth in public school enrolments.

“It proves that parents are recognising the value of having their children taught at their local government school when they are making choices about their family’s future,” he said.

“Their confidence in public education is testimony to the professionalism and dedication of the teachers and other staff in our schools.”

The census report shows that government school enrolment growth has exceeded that in the non-government sector, with overall enrolment share increasing by 0.1% to 65.5% last year.

The government school apparent retention rate from Year 10 to 12 increased from 73.9% in 2016 to 74.7% in 2017, and has risen by 5.6 percentage points since the new school leaving age was implemented in 2008.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students now account for 7.5% of the public school population, with student numbers rising by 4.7% between 2016 and 2017 to 59,214 students.

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