Government school student attendance 2016

This bulletin was originally published 2 May 2017.

Image: 2016 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 2016 bulletin summarises attendance rates by:

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

Main findings

CESE’s analysis of Semester 1 2016 attendance data indicates that the average attendance rate for NSW government schools was 92.2 per cent.

Attendance rate and student level of education

Over the last ten years attendance rates for primary students have been consistently higher than secondary students. Both primary and secondary attendance remained constant between 2015 and 2016 at 93.9 per cent and 89.0 per cent respectively.

Attendance rate by remoteness

In 2016 the attendance rate was 92.8 per cent, marginally higher compared with 2015. In contrast, the attendance rate at provincial schools decreased by 0.3 percentage points in 2016 to 90.4 per cent. This resulted in a larger gap in attendance rates between metropolitan and provincial schools at 2.4 percentage points. Attendance at schools in remote/very remote NSW declined 0.7 percentage points from 86.1 per cent in 2015 to 85.4 per cent in 2016.

Attendance rate and Aboriginal students

The average attendance rate for Aboriginal students was 86.0 per cent in 2016, slightly lower than 2015. This is consistent with the attendance rate pattern for all students between 2015 and 2016. In metropolitan schools, the Aboriginal attendance rate remained constant at 87.2 per cent in 2016, similar to the attendance rate observed from 2008 to 2010. The Aboriginal attendance rate at schools in provincial NSW was 85.3 per cent in 2016, a marginal decrease from 2015. In remote and very remote areas the student attendance rate in 2016 was 80.6 per cent, a 0.7 percentage point decrease from 2015. Primary attendance rates increased from 88.7 per cent in 2006 to 90.9 per cent in 2014, but declined slightly from 90.3 per cent in 2015 to 90.1 per cent in 2016. Secondary student attendance rates remain over ten percentage points below primary school students. In 2016, primary attendance averaged 90.1 per cent compared with 79.8 per cent for Aboriginal secondary students.

Attendance rate by term

Attendance rates are consistently higher in Term 1 than in Term 2 for both Aboriginal and all students. Term 1 2016 attendance rate was 92.6 per cent, which was 0.3 percentage points lower than in 2015. The Term 2 2016 attendance rate was 91.7 per cent, which was 0.3 percentage points higher than Term 2 2015. 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. However the gap between Term 1 and Term 2 attendance rates is greater for Aboriginal students.

Attendance rate by selective school status and FOEI

Attendance rates are higher at schools with lower FOEI scores (i.e. more advantaged schools). Excluding fully selective schools, attendance rates are affected more by the FOEI score than by whether the school is selective or not.

For FOEI scores up to 90, average attendance rates were highest amongst fully selective schools. These schools recorded attendance rates 3.8 percentage points higher than non-selective schools in the same band, and 4.2 percentage points higher than partially selective schools. For FOEI scores of 90 to 110 and 150 or more, attendance rates for non-selective schools and partially selective schools were very similar. Partially selective schools with FOEI scores of 110 to 150 recorded average attendance rates of 2.6 percentage points.

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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