Section 22 of the Education Act, NSW, (1990) states that it is the duty of the parent/carer of a child of compulsory school age to cause their child to be enrolled at and attend a government school or a registered non-government school or be registered for home schooling.
Parents or carers of children of compulsory school age are responsible for ensuring their child attends school every day. Children must commence school by age 6 and then complete Year 10.
After Year 10 and until they turn 17, students must be:
· in school or registered for home schooling; or
· in approved education or training (e.g TAFE, traineeship, apprenticeship); or
· in full-time, paid employment (average 25 hours/week); or
· in a combination of work, education and/or training.
Enrolled students 17 years and over are required to attend school regularly to meet Higher School Certificate course requirements.
Compulsory school attendance (nsw.gov.au)
Attendance percentage expectations and strategies
The NSW Department of Education expected level of attendance for all students is 95% or above. Students with attendance rates below 90% may be educationally at risk based on attendance.
Consequences of school non-attendance includes:
· Poorer academic outcomes.
· Increased likelihood of dropping out of school earlier.
· Poorer long term mental health.
· Increased likelihood of engaging in criminal activity.
Attending school regularly has a huge impact on a student’s overall academic success and plays a key role in setting good habits for a student’s future endeavours such as entering the workforce.
Your child must attend school unless there is a justified reason for their absence that is accepted by the Principal.
Justified reasons for student absences may include:
· being sick or having an infectious disease.
· having an unavoidable medical appointment.
· being required to attend a recognised religious holiday.
· exceptional or urgent family circumstances e.g attending a funeral.
Unjustified reasons for student absences may include:
· sleeping in.
· hair cuts.
· working - it is illegal for employers to schedule work during school time.
All absences must be explained to the school within 7 days of the absence and preferably in writing (email or letter). Please also be aware that despite an absence being explained, a student’s overall attendance percentage will still be affected.
Pursuant to the NSW Department of Education’s School Attendance Policy, a Principal can request medical certificates or other documentation when a frequent or prolonged absence is related to illness. It is preferable that where possible, you obtain a medical certificate when your student is absent due to illness.
If your student participates in elite sport or has a diagnosed medical condition requiring them to be absent from school at different times, please contact the Attendance Office as your student may be eligible for an exemption from attendance which needs to be approved by the Principal.
Late Arrivals / Early Departure
Students are expected to arrive at school by 8:55am in readiness for roll call to commence at 9:00am. Students who arrive late to school need to present to the Attendance Office to be signed into school for the day and should have an explanatory note from their parent/carer advising the reason for their late arrival. Parents/carers can also phone the office to advise of the late arrival and explanation, but a note is preferrable.
If students need to leave the school grounds during the day, they need to provide an explanatory note from their parent/carer requesting permission to leave school early and present this note to the Attendance Office before school so an Early Leave Pass can be arranged. Parents/carers can also phone the office to advise of the student’s reason for leaving school early, but a note is preferable.
Although it is not always possible, we encourage parents/carers to make medical appointments outside of school hours.
If you need to collect your student from school early, it would be appreciated if you contact the Attendance Office and provide as much notice as possible as it may take some time to locate your student in class.
Extended Leave – Travel
Families are encouraged to travel during school holidays however this is not always possible or sometimes an unexpected reason for travelling during a school term arises.
If you are travelling with your student for a period of 5 school days or more, you are required to submit an Application for extended leave - travel to the Principal. Please submit the completed application form together with copies of any documentation such as airline ticket bookings, travel itineraries to the Attendance Office. If approved, a Certificate of Extended Leave - Travel will be issued and the period of the absence will be recorded against your student’s attendance record as “explained/leave”. You will need to take the Certificate with you on your travel as you may be asked to show it as justification for having your child out of school for an extended period.
If the application is not approved by the Principal, the school cannot stop you from taking your student out of school but their period of absence will be recorded as “explained/unjustified”.
Sentral Parent Portal
You can monitor your student’s attendance and advise the school of reasons for absences and future absences via the Sentral Parent Portal.
You will need an access key code to set up the Sentral Parent Portal which can be obtained by contacting the Attendance Office where one will be posted/emailed to you. The Sentral Parent Portal can also be downloaded as an app on your mobile device but you will still need to contact the Attendance Office for an access key code.
The Sentral Parent Portal is also one of the school’s communication channels for informing parents/carers of important messages and notifications and is how parent/teacher interviews are booked for our parent/teacher evenings.
Consequences for a student’s non-attendance
Ultimately, student’s attendance at school is the responsibility of the parent/carer. If you don’t meaningfully engage with the school to work through attendance concerns for your student or if your student is absent from school for a consecutive period of 10 school days and no explanation is provided for the absence, the Principal may be required to make a Mandatory Child Protection Report for educational neglect.
The Principal may also be required to make a referral to the NSW Department of Education’s Home School Liaison Program and if the program is not successful, the Department can proceed with legal action.
What to do if your student intends on leaving Orara High School?
If you are moving away from Coffs Harbour including moving interstate or your student is enrolling with another local school/education provider, please ensure you contact the Attendance Office to advise of the situation as there will be documentation we will need you to complete.
Please note that we are unable to release your student from our school until we have confirmation of their enrolment in the new school/education provider for safety and legal reasons. This will mean that you will continue to receive correspondence and communications from us in relation to your student’s non-attendance until the situation is resolved.
Even if you are unsure of the new school/education provider your student will be enrolling with, please still contact the us to advise of your intentions to unenrol your student.
What can you do as a parent to encourage your child’s attendance at school?
· Make school attendance a priority.
· Talk to your student about the importance of attending school everyday.
· Help your child maintain healthy daily routines.
· Encourage your student to limit their device use particularly in the evenings.
· Try not to schedule medical appointments during a school day.
· Don’t let your student stay home unless they are truly sick.
· Find out if your child feels engaged in their classes and feels sale from other teenage issues.
· Make sure they are not missing class because of behavioural issues.
· Stay on top of academic progress and seek help from teachers if necessary.
· Check on your student’s attendance via the Sentral Parent Portal.
· Contact external agencies such as Headspace for further assistance.
We are here to help
If you are concerned about your student’s attendance or having trouble engaging your student in attending school please consider the following:
· Contact the Attendance Office on (02) 6652 1077 where we can discuss the situation further with you and make recommendations.
· Contact your student’s class teachers, Year Advisors, Wellbeing Team and/or the Deputy Principals.
Attendance at school starts with you as the parent/carer and Orara High School wishes to support you to encourage your student’s attendance.