Government school student attendance 2015

This bulletin was originally published 25 February 2016.

Image: 2015 student attendance bulletin


Student attendance has been demonstrated to be linked to student academic outcomes, although the nature of the link is complex. CESE’s Government School Student Attendance 2015 bulletin summarises attendance rates by:

  • student level of education
  • remoteness
  • Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students
  • FOEI and region
  • school term.

Main findings

CESE’s analysis of Semester 1 2015 attendance data indicates that the attendance rate for all students in NSW government schools decreased by 0.7 percentage points from 92.9 per cent in 2014 to 92.2 per cent in 2015, following two years of increased attendance.

Attendance rate and student level of education

Over the last ten years attendance rates for primary students have been consistently higher than secondary students. In 2015 primary attendance averaged 93.9 per cent compared with 89.5 per cent for secondary students. Primary attendance decreased by 0.9 percentage points in 2015 compared with 2014 while secondary attendance decreased by only 0.5 percentage points.

Attendance rate and remoteness

Over the last ten years the attendance rate at schools in metropolitan areas was more than 92.5 per cent on average. In 2015 the attendance rate was 92.7 per cent, a fall of 0.8 percentage points compared with 2014. The attendance rate at provincial schools was two percentage points lower than at metropolitan schools, at 90.7 per cent. Attendance at schools in remote/very remote NSW declined 0.8 percentage points from 86.9 per cent in 2014 to 86.1 per cent in 2015. Since 2006, the gap in attendance rate between remote/very remote and metropolitan schools has decreased by one percentage point from 7.6 percentage points to 6.6 percentage points in 2015.

Attendance rate and Aboriginal students

The average attendance rate for Aboriginal students was 86.1 per cent in 2015, which is 0.5 percentage points lower than 2014. Attendance rates for Aboriginal students did not fall by as much as all students between 2014 and 2015. In 2015 the gap between Aboriginal attendance rates at remote/very remote and metropolitan schools had narrowed to 5.9 percentage points, with 81.3 per cent attendance at remote/ very remote schools and 87.2 per cent at metropolitan schools.

Attendance rates by FOEI and region

The Family Occupation and Education Index (FOEI) is a school level index of educational disadvantage related to socioeconomic background. Attendance rates are higher at schools with lower FOEI scores i.e. with a higher socio-economic status. For FOEI scores of up to 90, there is only a small difference between attendance at schools in Sydney compared with regional schools. However schools in Sydney with a FOEI score of 110 or more recorded attendance rates at least 1.3 percentage points higher than schools in regional areas.

Attendance rates by term

Attendance rates are consistently higher in Term 1 than in Term 2 for both Aboriginal and all students. Term 1 2015 attendance rate was 92.9 per cent, which was 0.4 percentage points lower than in 2014. The Term 2 2015 attendance rate was 91.4 per cent, which was 0.8 percentage points lower than Term 2 2014. Aboriginal student attendance patterns for Terms 1 and 2 followed the same pattern as all students, with higher and more stable attendance in Term 1. For Aboriginal students, Term 1 attendance was 2.2 percentage points higher than Term 2, at 87.1 per cent in Term 1 compared with 84.9 per cent in Term 2.

Implications for educators

Recording and monitoring student attendance allows educators to identify students who have low attendance, and are at risk of falling behind. Tracking student attendance is also a legislative requirement and part of every school’s duty of care. Attendance data is important because it provides a measure of students’ engagement – which is critical for evaluating school and student performance.

For more information

To access data on NSW government school student attendance, visit the NSW Education Data Hub.
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