Government grade on education services published

By Melissa Coade

February 3, 2022

Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine that ATAGI has approved for Australian children from 12 years of age
The early childhood education and care, school education, vocational education, and higher education groups ROGS is out. (Monkey Business/Adobe)

New data for services in the childcare, education and training (CCET) sectors has shown that 29.8% of total federal, state and territory government expenditure went into care, education and learning last financial year.

The Report on Government Services (ROGS) was released by the Productivity Commission on Thursday, and assessed equity, effectiveness and efficiency of service provision across early childhood education and care (ECEC), school education, vocational education (VET), and higher education groups.

About $89.7 billion in government spending went to these services in 2020-21, with school education being the largest recipient ($70.6 billion), followed by ECEC ($12.4 billion) and VET ($6.6 billion).

In 2021, 64.5% of Australians aged 15–24 were enrolled in education and training (85.7% of 15–19 year olds and 45.0% of 20–24 year olds), compared to 8.3% of 25–64 year olds. 

Last year the percentage of young people fully participating in education, training or employment also increased nationally from 69.3% in 2020 to 73.9%. That growth in participation followed a decrease in 2019 (74%).

Government education matters during a pandemic

The Productivity Commission noted in its latest ROGS data release that the pandemic, including travel restrictions, shutting down of non-essential services and free childcare for working parents, had impacted the CCET 2020-2021 scorecard.

ROGS used two key indicators to assess how well government services developed ‘the capacities and talents of children and students to ensure necessary knowledge, understanding, skills and values for a productive and rewarding life are reported’. These indicators were achievement of foundation skills; and attainment of qualifications.

According to new data, Millennials and Gen Z (aged 35-39) have worked to attain an increasing level of qualification (Certificate III level or above), with this qualification rate growing over time. 

“The proportion is lower across the remaining working age population age groups,” the Productivity Commission report read.

“Nationally in 2021, 65.4% of 20–64-year-olds had a qualification at Certificate III level or above.” 

Participation and belonging in Australian schools

For primary and secondary education systems, the government’s objective is to engage all students and promote student participation; and deliver high-quality teaching of a world-class curriculum. The local education system intends to improve academic achievement and excel by international standards, ROGS said. 

“Australian schooling aims for all young Australians to become successful lifelong learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed members of the community positioning them to transition to further study and/or work and successful lives,” the report read.

ROGS used data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to gauge student engagement, and in 2018 (the most recent data) the majority of Australians aged 15 said they agreed that they made friends easily at school (75.6%); 68.2% agreed they felt like they belonged at school.

About 27% of Australian students reported that they felt like an outsider or left out of things at school; nearly 1 in 4 said they felt awkward or out of place at school; 19% said they felt lonely at school.

“From these responses, the Sense of Belonging at School Index for Australian students aged 15 years was ‑0.19. The score, which is below the 2018 OECD average, varied across jurisdictions,” the report said.

“Sense of belonging at school has been measured in four cycles of PISA: in 2003, 2012 2015 and 2018. Nationally, over this 12-year period, students’ agreement/disagreement with the Sense of Belonging Index statements have declined.”

Quality teaching and school spending

ROGS defines ‘quality teaching’ in relation to the teaching environment, including the quality of the curriculum and the effectiveness of the teachers, but the report said that data was not yet available to report on this important indicator.

“This indicator may be measured in future by student responses to survey questions on their perceptions of the teaching environment including the curriculum,” the report said.

“High or increasing proportions of students indicating positive responses to the teaching environment are desirable.”

In terms of government recurrent spending per FTE student in all schools, the latest data from 2019-20 shows that $17,779 went to each child. This sum has increased at an average rate of 2.2% every year between 2010-2011 and 2019-2020, the ROGS document added.

The expenditure comparison for non-government school and government school students for 2019-20 was $13,189 and $20,182 respectively. Funding for non-government school students increased at an average rate of 3.9% per year since 2010-2011, compared with a 1.7% average rate for government students. 


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