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Interpreting the data |
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On 25 October 2023, the NSW Department of Education released
Our Plan for NSW Public Education (2024-2027). The goal of the plan is to create an ‘equitable and outstanding’ public education system. Issues addressed by the plan include student wellbeing, school infrastructure provision, teacher shortages and teacher workloads.
This data brief presents electorate-level insights into some of these issues by providing data on selected indicators on students, school infrastructure and staffing. The 93 electorates of NSW are divided into 2 areas reflecting the
persistent achievement gap between schools across the state: metropolitan and regional. The metropolitan area includes all Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast and Newcastle electorates (see
electorate tables for full list). The remaining electorates are in the regional area. NSW and area averages have been provided for comparative purposes.
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These tables enable comparison of all electorates for 5 of the education indicators. These 5 indicators are presented as tables because the data takes the form of percentages, rates or ratios, rather than raw numbers. Data for all indicators is available for
download at the end of this data brief.
Developmental vulnerability: The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)
began in 2009 and is conducted every 3 years, most recently in 2021. All public, Catholic and Independent schools can voluntarily participate in the AEDC. The data is collected by kindergarten teachers, who respond to questions designed to measure childhood development across 5 domains:
The 2021 data was collected in Term 2, between 3 May and 25 June 2021. 97.7% of government schools in NSW with at least one child in their first year of full-time school participated in the AEDC. All Catholic schools and 79.1% of Independent schools in NSW also participated. AEDC data can assist community leaders, schools, educators and families understand and plan for the needs of children. The NSW Government offers AEDC community grants where AEDC data shows developmental vulnerability is high and additional support is needed.
Public table by Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) 2009-2021, 2022, accessed 28 June 2023.
Schools: In 2022, NSW had 3,382 schools (2,213 (65.4%) public schools and 1,169 (34.6%) private schools). The two most common types of schools were primary and secondary schools. Other types of schools include combined schools (Kindergarten to Year 12) and schools for specific purposes, which support children with special needs, including students with physical disability, intellectual disability and mental health issues. The public primary school data excludes infants schools (stand-alone schools for Kindergarten to Year 2 students), whereas the private primary school data includes infants schools. Private schools include both Catholic and Independent schools.
The area or NSW average is the average number of public or private primary or secondary schools for all electorates in the area or NSW.
Data on all school types by electorate is available for download.
Sources: NSW Department of Education,
NSW Public Schools Master Dataset, accessed
29 June 2023; Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA),
School Profile 2022, accessed 29 June 2023.
Public school enrolments: In August 2022, there were 767,352 full-time equivaluent (FTE) students in public primary and secondary schools in NSW. 468,670 students were in public primary schools and 298,682 students were in public secondary schools. In 2021, the NSW Audit Office reported that, based on 2019 projections, NSW Government schools will need to accommodate an additional 180,000 students by 2039.
The area or NSW average is the average number of public primary or secondary school students for every electorate in the area or NSW. For example, in Albury there were 4,410 public primary school students in 2022, and the average for all electorates in Regional NSW was 4,519 public primary school students.
Source: NSW Department of Education, NSW Public Schools Master Dataset, accessed 29 June 2023.
Public school attendance rate:
The 'attendance rate' refers to the number of actual full-time equivalent student days attended by full-time students in Years 1–10 as a percentage of the total number of possible student days attended in Semester 1. This definition is based on the
Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2020. Attendance rates are an indicator of school engagement, with
research showing that non-attendance is 'associated with a variety of poorer outcomes for students, both academically and socially'. NSW public schools have an attendance rate
target of 95%. The 2022 average attendance rate for NSW public schools was 85%.
Source: NSW Department of Education, 2022 Attendance Rates by Government Schools, 25 May 2023.
Student-to-teacher ratios: Student-to-teacher ratios provide an 'approximate indicator', rather than an actual measure, of class size. They are an approximate measure because they are calculated across an entire school, rather than for each individual class. For example, while a school with 2,000 students (FTE) and 100 teachers (FTE) has a student-to-teacher ratio of 20 students to 1 teacher (20:1), not every class in that school will necessarily have 20 students. The number of students in a class varies across subjects and years, while the overall student-to-teacher ratio will remain constant for the school as a whole. Nevertheless, a lower student-to-teacher ratio indicates that a school will generally have smaller class sizes than a school with a higher student-to-teacher ratio.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has stated that, overall, evidence on the effects of reduced class size on student academic performance is 'weak.' The OECD added, however, that there is 'wide agreement' that smaller classes benefit younger children. It also noted that there is 'some evidence' that smaller classes benefit students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Smaller class size is also associated with higher teacher job satisfaction.
This data brief has presented a single overall student-to-staff ratio for each electorate, rather than presenting separate ratios for primary and secondary schools. An advantage of this approach is that it accounts for combined (Kindergarten to Year 12) schools that report enrolment and staffing figures across their entire school. A disadvantage of this approach is that a particular electorate's student-to-teacher ratio may be affected by the number of primary and secondary schools within its area.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that NSW primary schools have a slightly higher student-to-teacher ratio than NSW secondary schools, across all three sectors.
Source: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), School Profile 2022, accessed 29 June 2023.
The indicators in this data brief have been selected because they provide insight into key education issues and are publicly available for geographies that can be corresponded to state electorates.
Developmental vulnerability: AEDC 2021 data was obtained for every Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) in NSW. The ABS defines SA2s as medium-sized general purpose areas designed to represent a community that interacts together socially and economically. SA2s generally have an average population of about 10,000 people, with a range of 3,000 to 25,000 people. Remote and regional SA2s generally have smaller populations than those in urban areas. An SA2 to State Electoral Division (SED) population-weighted correspondence was used to estimate the developmental vulnerability score for each SED.
The NSW Department of Education's NSW Public Schools Master Dataset identifies the electorate in which each public school is located. ACARA's School Profile 2022 dataset provides private school data by suburb and geolocation. The geolocation data was used to allocate private schools to SEDs.
Attendance: The attendance rates for all public schools in an SED were averaged to provide the average SED attendance rate.
Student-to-teacher ratios: Student-to-teacher ratios were calculated using FTE student enrolment data and FTE staffing (teacher) data from ACARA's
School Profile 2022 dataset. The formula for calculating the student-to-teacher ratio for each school is: (FTE enrolments/FTE staffing):1. The data was presented by individual school and each school's postcode was provided. A postcode to SED correspondence was used to assign the data to SED, and average student-to-teacher ratios were calculated for each SED. In 7 (0.2%) instances the enrolment and staffing numbers for a NSW school were not available.
Comparative measures: The 93 electorates of NSW are divided into 2 areas reflecting the persistent achievement gap between schools across the state: metropolitan and regional. The metropolitan area includes all Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast and Newcastle electorates (see
electorate tables for full list). The remaining electorates are in the regional area.
The dashboard presents the average score for the area matching each electorate and for NSW.
The electorate tables compare data for each electorate with the respective area average in a 'percentage above/below area average' column. This column shows the percentage by which an electorate is either above or below the figure for the respective area. It does not show the percentage point difference between the electorate and area average. Data comparing electorates with the NSW average is available for download. Ranks have been provided for those indicators presented in the electorate tables. The ranks are based on the relevant percentage, rate or ratio for the 93 electorates. The electorates were ranked from the highest percentage (rank 1) to the lowest percentage (rank 93).
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