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Student Attendance in Public Schools Policy


1. Policy statement

Every day that a student does not attend school can have a negative impact on their learning.

The Department of Education monitors student attendance and works with other agencies and service providers to maximise student engagement with learning.

It does this in a way that builds shared responsibility for student attendance between schools, students, parents and the broader community.

2. Policy rules

Principals manage student attendance in accordance with the Student Attendance in Public Schools procedures.  This includes:

  • promoting the importance of school attendance to their school community;
  • engaging in community-initiated approaches to strengthen student attendance;
  • developing plans in partnership with students, families, communities and other  agencies to improve student attendance, including documented plans where  required, to address the persistent absence of individual students;
  • maintaining accurate attendance records;
  • responding to Department requests for reporting and disclosure of attendance data;
  • managing alternative attendance arrangements where these are in the best  interests of the student; and
  • retaining all relevant documentation.


It is the principal’s responsibility, as site manager, to manage the implementation of this policy and the associated procedures.  It does not mean the principal must personally undertake the duty.  The principal is responsible for what must happen but has discretion over how it happens on the site.

Education regions and Statewide Services support schools to address and improve student attendance in accordance with the Student Attendance in Public Schools procedures.

Directors of Education:

  • provide advice, guidance and support to schools to manage student attendance and to address persistent student absence in the context of their region; and
  • liaise with and coordinate support from other agencies within the region that work with families and young people.

Statewide Services:

  • provide resources and support to enable schools to develop local approaches to improving attendance e.g. the Student Attendance Toolkit;
  • provide policy advice and support to schools and education regions; and
  • develop and implement mechanisms to maintain support, engagement and shared responsibility for improving student attendance and addressing absence across government agencies.

3. Responsibility for implementation and compliance

Implementation of the policy is the responsibility of principals.

Compliance monitoring is the responsibility of line managers.

4. Scope

This policy applies to Directors of Education, principals in public schools and the Executive Director, Statewide Services.

6. Definitions

A student is considered to be in attendance when present for, or participating in the school’s formal instructional program.  Typically, this will be on the school site but also includes off-site arrangements that respond to the student’s learning needs and circumstances.

Local people, groups and organisations in and around schools in remote, regional and metropolitan areas. This includes, but is not limited to, students, families, principals, teachers and other school staff, community leaders, local government agency staff and not-for-profit organisations.

Documented plan is the umbrella term describing a range of ways of catering for the identified education needs of an individual student and/or a small group of students with similar education needs.  Documented plans may take a variety of forms, including:

  • Individual Education Plans (IEP);
  • Individual Behaviour Plans (IBP);
  • Individual Transition Plans (ITP); and
  • Risk Management Plans (RMP).

In relation to a child, means a person who at law has responsibility for the long-term care, welfare and development of the child; or the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child.

7. Related documents

8. Contact information

Policy manager:

Director, Student Engagement and Wellbeing 

T: (08) 9402 6100                                   

Policy contact officer:

Principal Consultant, Student Engagement and Wellbeing

T: (08) 9402 6448      

9. History of changes

Effective date Last update date Policy version no.
1 January 2015 3.0
Major review undertaken, Student Attendance Policy and Procedures endorsed by Director General on 19 September 2014.
1 January 2015 16 July 2015 3.1
Updated links as per approval D15/0265969
1 January 2015 11 August 2015 3.2
Updated contact information D16/0522722
1 January 2015 31 July 2017 3.3
Updated links as per approval D17/0323036
1 January 2015 3 October 2018 3.4
Minor changes to include reference to Public Schools D18/0151652 and updated legislation links D18/0207680.
1 January 2015 11 March 2020 3.5
Minor change to contact details. D20/0130875
1 January 2015 8 February 2021 3.6
Minor changes to replace the Regional Executive Director position title with Director of Education D20/0647278.
19 July 2021 4.0
Major review undertaken. Endorsed by Director General on 23 November 2020 D20/0629917.
19 July 2021 4.1
Minor change to update links and definitions D20/0657410
19 July 2021 4.2
Minor changes to update links and Other Documents D21/0388622
19 July 2021 4 October 2023 4.3
Minor changes to update contact details D23/1582068

10. More information

Policy review date

19 July 2024

Policy last updated

4 October 2023