Huge rejection of government High Schools in Australia

On previous occasions, I have extrapolated from State statistics that about 40% of Australian High School students go to private schools. This compares with about 7% in England and probably reflects at least in part the greater Government financial support for private schools in Australia. But private schooling is still a considerable expense for families so the 40% figure probably represents just about every family that can afford those expenses.

Government schools are clearly on the nose. Discipline has largely been abolished there over the last couple of decades so such schools have a reputation for being chaotic and thus providing a poor learning environment.

Although I attended State schools myself, I sent my son to a local private school. There are so many private schools in Australia that one does not usually have to travel far to find one. At his school my son had (male) teachers who were enthusiastic about mathematics, something rarely found in State schools, I'll warrant. Since my son now has a B.Sc. with honours in mathematics and is working on his Ph.D. in the subject, he is an example of the effect that school choice can have.

Fortunately, my 40% estimate can now be firmed up. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has just released Australia-wide data on schools. See the excerpt below. It turns out that for Australia as a whole I was only one percentage point off. The figure is 39%, not 40%:

In 2010, there were 3.5 million students formally enrolled in all Australian schools (an increase of 7% since 2000). Of these students, seven in ten (66%) were enrolled in government schools, two in ten (20%) in Catholic schools and one in ten (14%) in Independent schools (compared with 69%, 20% and 11% respectively in 2000).

Although government schools continue to educate the majority of students in Australia, the number of students enrolled in non-government schools has been increasing at a faster rate over the last decade. Since 2000, Catholic and Independent schools had the largest proportional increases in the number of students (11% and 37% respectively) while the number of students in government schools increased by only 1.3%.

In 2010, there was little difference between the proportions of male and female students enrolled in government and non-government schools.

In primary and secondary schools

In 2010, around two million students were enrolled in primary schools and around 1.5 million students were enrolled in secondary schools. A higher proportion of students were enrolled in government primary (69%) and secondary (61%) schools than students enrolled in non-government primary and secondary schools. The proportion of students enrolled in Catholic and Independent schools was lower in primary schools (19% and 11% respectively) compared with secondary schools (22% and 17% respectively).

Many students may not remain in one particular type of school (government or non-government) for their entire schooling. For example, some students may attend a government primary school and complete their education in a non-government secondary school.

A media report on some other aspects of the new ABS data here. Private school graduates are much more likely to go on to univerity etc.

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