Updated 11 June 2021
PDF version [397 KB]
Carol Ey and Shannon Clark
(originally prepared by Marilyn Harrington)
This Quick Guide provides links to information about:
Note: the links in this guide were correct as
at 11 June 2021.
National policy and administrative
The Alice Springs
(Mparntwe) Education Declaration, agreed to by the
Australian Government and state and territory government education ministers in
December 2019, sets the goals and directions for Australian schooling.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment
(DESE) has major responsibility for Australian Government school education
Australian Government school education programs and
funding for Indigenous school students are administered by the National
Indigenous Australians Agency, which has primary
responsibility for Indigenous affairs, and DESE.
- Following the Review of COAG Councils and Ministerial Forums in October 2020, the Education
Ministers Meeting replaced the Education Council. Australian Government and
state and territory government ministers responsible for education attend the
meeting, which is chaired by the Australian Government Minister for Education.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is responsible for the development of the Australian Curriculum, the National Assessment Program, which includes
Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), and
collection and reporting, which includes My School.
The Australian Institute for
Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) provides ‘national leadership for
the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments in promoting excellence in
the profession of teaching and school leadership’. AITSL has developed
standards and provides resources across three focus areas—initial teacher
education (including maintaining an accredited programs
list), school leadership and teaching.
The Australian Education
Research Organisation was established in 2021 as a policy initiative of the
School Reform Agreement to undertake education research, make high-quality
evidence accessible and enhance the use of evidence in Australian education.
- Education Services Australia
is a not-for-profit company owned by education ministers. It was established by
the Education Council in 2010 and provides technology services to support the
school education sector.
- Prior to its abolition, the Education Council commissioned
a review of the national architecture for schooling in Australia. In October 2020, the Council decided
not implement recommended structural changes—including replacing
ACARA and AITSL with a single new body, the Australian Curriculum and Teaching
Services—due to the impact of COVID-19. Education ministers agreed to progress
reforms through a staged approach.
funding for schools
Government funding for schools is provided under the Australian
Education Act 2013 (the Act) and the Australian
Education Regulation 2013.
- The Act was amended in 2017 and changes to Australian Government school funding
arrangements took effect from 2018. DESE’s Quality Schools fact sheets explain the
changes and the transitional arrangements in place from 2018.
- The Act was further amended in 2020 to change the way that the capacity of non-government schools’
communities to contribute financially to their school (capacity to contribute)
is calculated. From 2020, the Direct Measure of Income (DMI) began to be used
to determine parents’/guardians’ capacity to contribute. Previous arrangements
calculated capacity to contribute using the socio-economic status score of the areas
where students lived. DESE fact sheets provide information
about the DMI and transition arrangements and the new DMI methodology.
The National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) is a
joint agreement between the Australian and state and territory governments that
sets out strategic reforms to improve student outcomes. The NSRA commenced on 1
January 2019 and ends on 31 December 2023. It is supported by bilateral agreements between the Australian
Government and state and territory governments.
Funding Estimator, available on the DESE website,
provides estimated Australian Government per student funding for all schools
for each year from 2019 to 2022 and for 2029 (the final year of phased funding
arrangements) as well as some brief overall funding information.
School Resourcing Board was established in 2017 to
undertake reviews of the Australian Government’s arrangements for school
funding. Its most recent review of regional schooling resource standards loadings was scheduled to be delivered to the Minister in May 2021. The
Board’s completed reviews include:
- M Harrington, ‘Schools funding legislation passed by Parliament—an update on the
amendments’, FlagPost, Parliamentary Library blog, 28
M Harrington, Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017,
Bills digest, 116, 2016–17, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2017.
M Harrington, Funding the National Plan for School Improvement: an explanation, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra,
26 June 2013. Provides information about the Gillard Labor Government
school funding arrangements that commenced in 2014. As such, it does not
reflect the current school funding arrangements that were implemented in 2018.
- M Harrington, Australian Government funding for schools explained: 2013 update, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 8 March 2013.
Explains the previous funding arrangements and includes a brief history of
Australian Government funding for schools and historic funding and statistical
- The My School
website, managed by ACARA, provides information about all schools in
Australia and includes key statistical data, financial information and school-wide
- The Australian Schools
List, developed by ACARA, provides an update of all schools and
campuses in Australia obtained from state and territory school registration
authorities. The information includes school location, school type and school
- The School Funding
Estimator, available on the DESE website, provides for all schools
estimated Australian Government per student funding for each year from 2019 to
2022 and for 2029 as well as some brief overall funding information.
The Parliamentary Library makes information available to members
of Parliament about Schools
by Commonwealth Electoral Division based on data provided by DESE. Information includes:
Australia, published annually by the
Australian Bureau of Statistics.
- The National
Report on Schooling in Australia (year)
(most recent edition 2018) provides an overview of school education in
Australia, key statistics and funding information. Earlier
editions (1989–2008) were published by the Ministerial Council on
Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) and its
The annual Report
on Government Services, published by the Productivity Commission,
provides an overview of school education in Australia, key statistics and
funding information. It provides comparative data for the Australian and state
and territory governments.
See also links to Indigenous school education statistical
information in the Indigenous school education section
- The National Assessment Program (NAP), managed by
ACARA, includes the annual NAPLAN for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 and
three-yearly NAP Sample Assessments in Science Literacy,
Civics and Citizenship, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment
(PISA) is a three-yearly international survey of the reading, mathematics and
science capabilities of 15-year-old students.
- Progress in
International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS), a
project of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational
Achievement (IEA), is a five-yearly international assessment of the reading
ability of students in Year 4.
- The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), an IEA project, is a four-yearly international survey of the
mathematics and science achievement of students in Year 4 and Year 8.
Indigenous school education
The following are some educational organisations that
represent the interests of school education stakeholders and/or undertake
research relating to school education.
International organisations and overseas education departments
Overseas education departments
State and territory government websites
New South Wales (NSW)
South Australia (SA)
For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.
© Commonwealth of Australia
With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and to the extent that copyright subsists in a third party, this publication, its logo and front page design are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence.
In essence, you are free to copy and communicate this work in its current form for all non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to the author and abide by the other licence terms. The work cannot be adapted or modified in any way. Content from this publication should be attributed in the following way: Author(s), Title of publication, Series Name and No, Publisher, Date.
To the extent that copyright subsists in third party quotes it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the publication are welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This work has been prepared to support the work of the Australian Parliament using information available at the time of production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position of the Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional legal opinion.
Any concerns or complaints should be directed to the Parliamentary Librarian. Parliamentary Library staff are available to discuss the contents of publications with Senators and Members and their staff. To access this service, clients may contact the author or the Library‘s Central Entry Point for referral.