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Key statistics

In 2017:

  • there were 3,849,225 students in 9,444 schools
  • the number of students increased 1.3%
  • 65.6% of students went to , 19.9% to and 14.5% to
  • the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students increased by 3.7%

School type

Students in government schools increased to 65.6% in 2017, up from 65.4% in 2016. This continues the shift towards government schools since 2015.

Over the 20 years before 2015, the proportion of students attending was increasing.

Number of schools

  • The number of schools increased by 30 in 2017, making 9,444 nationally.
  • Both Victoria and Queensland had 8 more schools than in 2016.
  • The increase in school numbers was driven mostly by growth in independent schools.
  • South Australia had 3 less schools than in 2016.
Year NSW Vic. Qld SA WA Tas. NT ACT Australia
2017 3,087 2,233 1,737 714 1,088 261 190 134 9,444
2016 3,081 2,225 1,1729 717 1,083 259 188 132 9,414


  • The number of full-time teachers in Australia increased by 2.0% in 2017.
  • Victoria had a 2.7% increase in teachers since 2016, the largest in the country.
  • The number of teachers in the Australian Capital Territory fell by 0.7%.

Display data as...

Teaching staff change, by state
State Percentage (%)
Australia 2
NSW 1.7
VIC 2.7
QLD 2.1
SA 2.3
WA 1.7
TAS 1.3
NT 0.7
ACT -0.7


Every state and territory had an increase in students in 2017. Victoria had the largest increase in students in 10 years.

Display data as...

Percentage change in student numbers, by state
State Percentage (%)
Australia 1.4
NSW 1.2
VIC 2.2
QLD 1.1
SA 0.3
WA 1.2
TAS 0.2
NT 1.2
ACT 2.5

Retention rate

  • The of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students remaining in school to grade 12 increased from 59.8% in 2016 to 62.4% in 2017. This rate has increased significantly over the last 10 years from 47.2% in 2008.
  • The retention rate for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students increased to 86.0% in 2017. This rate has increased from 85.5% in 2016 and 75.6% in 2008.

Display data as...

Grade 7 to 12 apparent retention rate
Year Non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students ARR Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ARR
2008 75.6 47.2
2009 77.3 45.2
2010 79.4 47.2
2011 80.7 48.7
2012 81.3 51.1
2013 82.9 55.1
2014 84.8 59.4
2015 85.2 59.4
2016 85.5 59.8
2017 86 62.4

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students could be due to improvements in the collection of Indigenous Status.

Read more in Methodology

  • Two in five (40.2%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were in the Northern Territory.
  • The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were in government schools (83.9%) compared with 64.5% of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
  • The share of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in non- government schools has increased over the last 10 years. The number of Catholic school students has increased from 8.9% in 2008 to 10.4% in 2017, while independent school students have increased from 5.0% to 5.7%.

Display data as...

Percentage of students who were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Year Percentage (%)
2006 4.2
2007 4.3
2008 4.4
2009 4.5
2010 4.6
2011 4.8
2012 4.9
2013 5
2014 5.2
2015 5.3
2016 5.5
2017 5.6

Data downloads

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Data cubes

Non-special schools by primary enrolment, 2002-2017

Non-special schools by secondary enrolment, 2002-2017

Counts of all schools, 2010-2017

Non-special schools by enrolment size ranges, 2013-2017

Number of full-time and part-time students, 2006-2017

Full-time equivalent students, 2002-2017

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Excludes estimates for students that are home schooled and aren’t enrolled at an in-scope establishment.

Establishments which have the administration and/or provision of full-time day primary, secondary or special education, or primary or secondary distance education as their main activity.

Excludes school-level education conducted by institutions e.g. TAFE.

Geographical coverage

Coverage includes estimates for:

  • states and territories
  • remoteness areas (Major city, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote and Very remote)


The National Schools Statistics collection is a census that counts all students and teachers at every school in Australia on the first Friday in August each year.

Collection method

Collection methods for government schools data vary across all states and territories. Data is accessed from central administration databases, sourced from educational sectorial bodies or collected directly from education establishments.

Non-government schools data is collected by the Department of Education and Training.

Concepts, sources and methods

See the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) methodology for the description of underlying concepts and methods used in the creation of these statistics.

History of changes

In 2015, Year 7 became the first year of secondary schooling in Queensland and Western Australia, where previously it was Year 8.

More about collection history


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