26 September 2023

Annual school census records COVID impact

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COVID-19 has had a clear and negative impact on school enrolments across the ACT, according to the Education Directorate’s annual school census.

Commenting on the 2022 census results, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Yvette Berry said that from 2012 to 2021 the annual growth rate in ACT school enrolments was consistently around two per cent.

“However, from February 2021 to 2022 there was very little (0.4 per cent) growth in the number of enrolments in ACT schools across Government and non-government sectors,” Ms Berry said.

“The most noticeable change relates to preschool, where enrolments decreased by 490 students (-8.0 per cent) overall,” she said.

She said this result was likely due to a range of factors, including the reported reduction in the ACT estimated resident population for preschool-aged children.

The Minister said that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the estimated number of three‑year-old children in the ACT in June 2021 was 300 less than the estimated amount in June 2020.

Ms Berry said the decrease in preschool enrolments could also be attributed to some parents choosing not to enrol their children in (non-compulsory) preschool because of the pandemic, “particularly given children under five years old were not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination and increased case numbers in early 2022.”

She said the census showed the proportion of Canberra families who choose public education had remained relatively stable, with 62.2 per cent of all students enrolled in a public school.

“In 2022, there are 82,175 students enrolled in ACT public, Catholic and independent schools,” she said.

“In 2022, there are 2,156 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in public schools (77 per cent of total).

“This is an increase of 269 students (14.3 per cent) from 2018.”

The Directorate’s 21-page 2022 school census can be accessed at this PS News link.

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