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Recording and following up student absences

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All schools are required to mark rolls daily in accordance with departmental procedures.

Timely follow-up is a key preventative strategy in reducing absenteeism. Schools are to notify parents of an unexplained absence of their child as soon as practicable on the day of the student's absence (allowing time for parents to respond prior to the end of the school day), with continued follow up as practicable with parents. It makes it harder for students to miss school without being detected. It also enables parents who may not be aware that their children are absent to take action.

'Consistent and persistent' follow up is a key strategy employed by many schools that have seen significant improvements in attendance.

Some ideas which may assist schools to record and follow up student absences are listed below. These ideas have been collected from Queensland schools, nationally and internationally. Schools will need to consider local circumstances, priorities, age of students etc. in determining which (if any) of these ideas might be useful in the local context:

  • Establish a dedicated attendance email inbox or phone line, depending on procedures for parents to notify of absences.
  • Decide how parents must notify the school of an absence. Some schools require parents to write a note or fill in a form as a deterrent to unnecessary absences, while other schools will accept an email or phone call. These requirements could be clearly articulated in a school attendance policy.
  • Contact parents (either electronically or personally) seeking an explanation for unexplained absences.
  • Meet with parents to discuss reasons for their child's high levels of unexplained absences or lateness and to identify practical strategies for getting students to school on time.
  • Consider purchasing and implementing a text messaging system to alert parents when students are absent.
  • Set a target of zero unexplained absences.
  • Consider the data for patterns of absence that the school considers needs further attention, such as 3 or more consecutive unexplained absences; 5 unexplained absences in a year; 2 Fridays or Mondays as unexplained absences; or an attendance rate below the school's attendance benchmark in the previous year.

Ensure casual and relieving teachers are provided with rolls for relevant classes.

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Last updated 02 August 2019