The purpose of this policy is to:
- Ensure all children of compulsory school age are enrolled in a registered school and attend school every day the school is open for instruction.
- Ensure students, staff and parents/carers have a shared understanding of the importance of attending school.
- Explain to school staff and parents the key practices and procedures Princes Hill Secondary College has in place to:
- Support, monitor and maintain student attendance.
- Record, monitor and follow up student absences.
2. Policy Statement
This policy applies to all students at Princes Hill Secondary College.
This policy should be read in conjunction with the Department of Education and Training’s School Attendance Guidelines. It does not replace or change the obligations of Princes Hill Secondary College, parents and School Attendance Officers under legislation or the School Attendance Guidelines.
Schooling is compulsory for children and young people aged from 6 to 17 years (unless an exemption from attendance or enrolment has been granted).
Daily attendance is important for all children and young people to succeed in education and to ensure they do not fall behind both socially and developmentally. School participation maximises life opportunities for young people by providing them with education and support networks. School helps people to develop important skills, knowledge and values that set them up for further learning and participation in their community.
Students are expected to attend Princes Hill Secondary College during normal school hours every day of each term unless:
- There is an approved exemption from school attendance for the student.
- The student has a dual enrolment with another school and has only a partial enrolment in Princes Hill Secondary College, or the student is registered for home schooling and has only a partial enrolment in Princes Hill Secondary College for particular activities.
- The student is in VCE/VCAL and there are no scheduled classes for the student.
- The student is attending a VET course, apprenticeship or traineeship with another provider, or other activities requiring Regional Office approval (work experience, employment, religious observance).
Both the school and parents have an important role to play in supporting students to attend school every day.
Princes Hill Secondary College believes all students should attend school all day, every day when the school is open for instruction and is committed to working with its school community to encourage and support full school attendance.
Our school will identify individual students or cohorts who are vulnerable and whose attendance is at risk and/or declining and will work with these students and their parents to improve their attendance through a range of interventions and supports.
It is expected that students are committed to attending school every day, arriving on time and are prepared to learn. Our students are encouraged to approach a teacher and seek assistance if there are any issues that are affecting their attendance.
Princes Hill Secondary College parents are committed to ensuring their child/children attend school on time every day when instruction is offered, communicating openly with the school and providing valid explanations for any absence.
Parents should communicate with the relevant staff at Princes Hill Secondary College about any issues affecting their child’s attendance and work in partnership with the school to address any concerns.
Parents are required to provide a reasonable explanation for their child’s absence from school and endeavour to schedule short family holidays of up to 10 days, appointments and other activities outside of school hours.
Supporting and Promoting Attendance
The Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy details mechanisms to support student attendance.
Princes Hill Secondary College must record attendance in every class. This is necessary to:
- Meet legislative requirements.
- Discharge Princes Hill Secondary College’s duty of care for all students.
- Meet Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority requirements for VCE students.
Attendance will be recorded by the classroom teacher at the start of each lesson/period using the Compass School Management application.
If students are in attendance at a school approved activity, the teacher in charge of the activity will record them on Compass as being present.
For absences where there is no exemption in place, a parent must provide an explanation on each occasion to the school.
Parents should notify Princes Hill Secondary College of absences by:
- Using the Compass portal to indicate a 'parent choice' absence and giving the reason if it is a planned absence, or
- Emailing the relevant Year level Coordinator, or
- Contacting the school Front Office.
If a student is absent on a particular day and the school has not been previously notified by a parent, or the absence is otherwise unexplained, Princes Hill Secondary College will notify parents by SMS, Compass email, or telephone. Princes Hill Secondary College will attempt to contact parents as soon as practicable on the same day of the unexplained absence, allowing time for the parent to respond.
If contact cannot be made with the parent (due to incorrect contact details), the school will attempt to make contact with any emergency contact/s nominated on the student's file held by the school, where possible, on the day of the unexplained absence.
Princes Hill Secondary College will keep a record of the reason given for each absence. The principal will determine if the explanation provided is a reasonable excuse for the purposes of the parent meeting their responsibilities under the Education Training Reform Act 2006 and the School Attendance Guidelines.
If Princes Hill Secondary College considers that the parent has provided a reasonable excuse for their child’s absence the absence will be marked as ‘explained absence (authorised)’.
If the school determines that no reasonable excuse has been provided, the absence will be marked as ‘unexplained absence (unauthorised)’.
The Principal has the discretion to accept or reject a reason given by a parent for a student’s absence. The Principal will generally excuse:
- medical and dental appointments, where out of hours appointments are not possible or appropriate
- bereavement or attendance at the funeral of a relative or friend of the student, including a student required to attend Sorry Business
- school refusal, if a plan is in place with the parent to address causes and support the student’s return to school
- cultural observance if the parent/carer notifies the school in advance
- family holidays where the parent notifies the school in advance
If no explanation is provided by the parent of an absence, it will be recorded as an ‘unexplained absence’ and recorded on the student’s file immediately.
Parents will be notified if an absence has not been excused.
Princes Hill Secondary College maintains a rigorous approach to attendance at VCE in accordance with Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority requirements. Attendance data will be collected and maintained to support student learning.
For more information on VCE Attendance, please consult the Attendance policy section of the VCE Handbook.
Managing Non-Attendance and Supporting Student Engagement
Where absences are of concern due to their nature or frequency, or where a student has been absent for more than five consecutive days, Princes Hill Secondary College will work collaboratively with parents, the student, and other professionals, where appropriate, to develop strategies to improve attendance, including:
- establishing an Attendance Student Support Group
- implementing a Return to School Plan
- implementing an Individual Education Plan
- implementing a Student Absence Learning Plan for students who will be absent for an extended period
- arranging for assistance from the relevant Year Level Coordinator/Sub School Leader/Student Wellbeing Coordinator.
We understand from time to time that some students will need additional supports and assistance, and in collaboration with the student and their family, will endeavour to provide this support when it is required,
Referral to School Attendance Officer
If Princes Hill Secondary College decides that it has exhausted strategies for addressing a student’s unsatisfactory attendance, we may, in accordance with the School Attendance Guidelines refer the non-attendance to a School Attendance Officer in the North West Victorian Regional Office for further action.
If, from multiple attempts to contact with a parent, it becomes apparent that a student will not be returning to the school, the principal may make a referral to a School Attendance Officer if:
- the student has been absent from school on at least five full days in the previous 12 months where:
- the parent has not provided a reasonable excuse for these absences; and
- measures to improve the student's attendance have been undertaken and have been unsuccessful
- the student’s whereabouts are unknown and:
- the student has been absent for 10 consecutive school days; or
- no alternative education destination can be found for the student.
4. Evaluation & Review
This policy will be evaluated annually by the Principal Team and Sub School Leaders and reviewed every 4 years.
Parent – includes a guardian and every person who has parental responsibility for the child, including parental responsibility under the Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth) and any person with whom a child normally or regularly resides.