Principal’s Message Week 8

Dear Parents and Carers

I’m taking the opportunity with this newsletter, to provide you with some information about student attendance, from a Departmental and school perspective. The following information for parents is taken from the Department of Education WA’s website.
‘As a parent, you are required by the School Education Act 1999 to ensure your child attends school every day that the school is open for instruction (Section 23). Principals are responsible for monitoring and accurately recording the attendance of every student enrolled at their school in accordance with Section 28 of the School Education Act 1999.
If a student is absent, a responsible person, usually the parent, must notify the school of the reason for the student’s absence as soon as practical. 
Lesson attendance codes are used by all Western Australian public schools to record the reason for every half-day absence.  Accurate record-keeping ensures principals can identify patterns of absence at both a school and individual student level and implement appropriate measures to restore attendance where there is cause for concern.
Absences are grouped as either ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’ according to whether they meet the requirements of excusing a student from attendance pursuant to Section 25 of the Act. The total half-day absences are displayed on your child’s school report each semester.’

So what’s all the fuss about attendance? Several years ago, the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research released a report called Student Attendance and Educational Outcomes: Every Day Counts. The research was based on three main measures: attendance rate; ‘authorised’ absence rate; and ‘unauthorised’ absence rate and how these impacted on outcomes for children. Authorised absences are primarily absences due to illness or an exceptional family circumstance.
Unauthorised absences are absences that are either unexplained or not considered to be valid reasons for non-attendance. (For example, absence for a birthday, holidays during term, a day of rest after a busy weekend or late night.)
The research revealed ‘the relationship between absence from school and achievement, across all sub-groups of student strongly suggests that every day of attendance in school contributes towards a child’s learning, and that academic outcomes are enhanced by maximising attendance in school. Further, the effects of absence also accumulate over time.’ Absence from school was related to academic achievement in literacy and numeracy ‘not only in the current year, but in future years as well’.

The Every Day Counts report argues the following: ‘There is a commonplace and perhaps growing assumption that children can be absent from school with little consequence on their onward academic achievement. This data show that every day of attendance matters and that there is no minimum threshold of tolerable absences.

Thank you very much to families who have written to me regarding planned student absences.  In a small number of circumstances I am able to ‘authorise’ a vacation absence. This is primarily around attendance at a specific event, often interstate or overseas which can’t be scheduled for another time, and must be approved prior to the absence.

If you would like any more information about attendance please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes
Elizabeth Blackwell