Where are school-aged kids located? Top 10 growing and slowing suburbs

Where are school-aged kids located? Top 10 growing and slowing suburbs

Georgia Allan 18 Sep, 2017

Between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, there was an increase of 174,600 school aged kids (5-17 years) across Australia – the equivalent of approximately 300 schools!

Where is the largest growth in school aged children?

It’s important to understand where the growth in school aged children is occurring, especially when it comes to planning new schools or expanding existing facilities.

Looking at primary school aged children (5-11 year olds) and secondary school kids (12-17 years), the top 10 growth suburbs from 2011 to 2016 are listed below.

Top 10 growth suburbs for Primary school aged children

Primary schoolers (aged 5 to 11) State 2011 2016 Change
Cranbourne East Vic 910 3161 2251
Baldivis WA 2017 4162 2145
Tarneit Vic 2487 4609 2122
Truganina Vic 1138 2776 1638
Parklea – Kellyville Ridge NSW 2750 4356 1606
Forrestdale – Harrisdale – Piara Waters WA 698 2122 1424
Doreen Vic 1351 2769 1418
North Lakes – Mango Hill Qld 2608 3990 1382
Ellenbrook WA 3057 4417 1360
Cobbitty – Leppington NSW 638 1849 1211

Top 10 growth suburbs for Secondary school aged kids

Secondary schoolers (12 to 17) State 2011 2016 Change
Cranbourne East Vic 561 1927 1366
Baldivis WA 1428 2571 1143
Parklea – Kellyville Ridge NSW 1578 2599 1021
North Lakes – Mango Hill Qld 1781 2766 985
Ellenbrook WA 2139 3099 960
Tarneit Vic 1790 2636 846
Doreen Vic 884 1666 782
Rouse Hill – Beaumont Hills NSW 1741 2414 673
Cobbitty – Leppington NSW 545 1209 664
Truganina Vic 662 1268 606

For both primary and secondary school children, we can see significant growth occurring in the growing outer suburbs over the past 5 years.

Where are kids on the decline?

For primary school (5-11 year olds) and secondary aged children (12-17 years), here’s the top 10 slowing suburbs in terms of absolute change from 2011 to 2016.

Top 10 slowing suburbs for Primary school aged children

Primary schoolers (5 to 11) State 2011 2016 Change
Taylors Lakes Vic 1691 1315 -376
Mill Park – North Vic 1764 1404 -360
Wollongong – East NSW 792 450 -342
Rowville – South Vic 1222 950 -272
Mount Isa Qld 2256 1991 -265
Cabramatta – Lansvale NSW 2299 2035 -264
Hoppers Crossing – North Vic 1993 1747 -246
Bidwill – Hebersham – Emerton NSW 2418 2183 -235
Ballajura WA 1995 1765 -230
Auburn – North NSW 1017 790 -227

Top 10 slowing suburbs for Secondary school aged children

Secondary schoolers (12 to 17) State 2011 2016 Change
Auburn – North NSW 889 477 -412
Claymore – Eagle Vale – Raby NSW 2274 1889 -385
Orange NSW 1783 1409 -374
Warnbro WA 1154 796 -358
Ballajura WA 2144 1801 -343
Hoppers Crossing – North Vic 1994 1653 -341
Rowville – Central Vic 1551 1210 -341
Menai – Lucas Heights – Woronora NSW 2235 1898 -337
Langwarrin Vic 2233 1897 -336
Toowoomba – East Qld 1309 981 -328

Suburbs that experienced declines in school aged children tend to be outer-suburban and regional areas.

What does it all mean? Deciphering the trends

So how can we better understand these areas of growth and decline in school aged population? It’s important to note that changes in population aren’t generally sporadic or unpredictable – they follow certain patterns that can best be explained by what we call the suburb lifecycle. This concept demonstrates that population change follows a cycle rather than a linear trend.

Typically, new areas are settled by young households comprising young couples and young families (with school-aged children or under), with some mature families. As these families grow, the average size of the household increases.

Following this initial rapid development, these households most often ‘age in place’: growing in size while staying in the area. This slowly shifts the demand for services, facilities and dwelling types as households mature.

As the children grow up and move out of home the suburb is left with more ’empty nester’ (two person) households, often living in large family dwellings. If a suburb can’t attract young families back into the area, it becomes increasingly populated by older couples or lone persons, and its population begins to decline with mortality. As an area ages, housing stock is freed up through migration and mortality, enabling families to begin re-populating the area and continue the cycle.

The suburb lifecycle


Planning for the future

Understanding the lifecycle that suburbs follow is important in helping governments and organisations predict changing demand for services, facilities and dwelling types. Areas that manage to minimise the loss of family-oriented and maintain diverse housing stock that can accommodate a variety of households are more likely to see the process of regeneration occur.

Granular population forecasts can be used to visualise the way these big picture population trends play out locally, providing school planners with an evidence base to help answer strategic questions about where and when to locate schools in the future.

.id work with a variety of education providers from the Catholic Schools Office, Department of Education through to individual independent schools, helping them make large scale investment decisions to ensure schools are located in the right place, at the right time.

For more detailed information, read our eBook: Planning education provision in a changing Australia.

We work closely with the education providers, helping schools and organisations make important planning decisions that cater to growing or slowing numbers of kids in different areas. We are keen to talk to school planners and decision makers about the way demographic trends are impacting local areas, so come and talk to us at these upcoming events:

explore census data spatially

.id is a team of population experts, who use a unique combination of online tools and consulting to help organisations decide where and when to locate their facilities and services, to meet the needs of changing populations. Access our free demographic resources here.

Georgia Allan

Georgia completed a Masters in Population Studies and Demography at Flinders University in Adelaide. At .id, Georgia is a consultant in .id's housing team. She was heavily involved in the creation and continued development of, the online tool developed to give councils an accessible evidence base for planning and advocacy. Georgia has prepared housing demand and supply analysis for a range of councils, including those in inner-city, middle ring, growth and peri-urban areas. When not in the office, she is likely to be cooking, knitting, crocheting, or buried in a good book.

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