26 September 2023

Education hits back at statistics data

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The Department of Education has issued a statement on recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data which found the ratio of students to teachers in NSW public schools higher than the national average.

In its report Schools Australia 2022, the ABS said the national student to teaching staff ratio for Government schools was 13.4 students to one teacher, higher in primary schools (14.3 to one) than secondary schools (12.3 to one).

It reported the student to teacher ratio in NSW Government schools as 14.2 to one, with secondary schools coming in lower at 13 to one, and primary schools at 15 to one.

Across all NSW schools, including Government, Catholic and independent, the Bureau said the average student to teacher ratio was 13.6 to one, compared to the national average of 13.1 to one.

“Full-time equivalent student/teaching staff ratios are calculated by dividing the full-time equivalent student figure by the full-time equivalent teaching staff figure,” the ABS said.

“Student/teaching staff ratios are an indicator of the level of staffing resources used and should not be used as a measure of class size,” it said.

“They do not take account of teacher aides and other non-teaching staff who may also assist in the delivery of school education.”

Responding to the report, the NSW Department of Education said the ABS data did not reflect the total number of teachers in NSW, “including crucially temporary teachers who are backfilling a permanent position”.

“Over the past decade, the overall number of full-time teachers in NSW public schools has increased by 14 per cent, or nearly 10,000 roles, compared with growth in student enrolment of just 7.6 per cent,” the Department said.

“The figures used by the ABS are from the National Schools Statistics Collection,” it said.

“This has very specific counting rules, which does not reflect the total number of teachers engaged or paid within a year and does not align with the figures the Department publishes which do not make these exclusions.”

The Department said the ABS data excluded all casual teachers, temporary teachers with a substantive holder (those that backfill a permanent teacher); teachers in non-school locations; as well as Counsellors, Home School Liaison officers and District Guidance Officers.

It said based on internal data, NSW Government schools had almost 95,000 teachers across the State.

The ABS reported the schools had just under 80,000 full-time equivalent in-school staff.

The ABS’ Schools Australia 2022 report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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