Attendance success for Glenmore Park High School

A multi-pronged approach and free food is helping a western Sydney school focus students on the importance of being at school. Olivia Grey reports.

Students holding ice cream cones standing in front of a van. Students holding ice cream cones standing in front of a van.
Image: Glenmore Park High School has taken a yummy approach to rewarding students for good attendance.

Glenmore Park High School staff have been working hard to boost attendance. It’s not been an easy task – with a layered approach proving successful, but the work has been worth it.

Post-COVID, student attendance at Glenmore Park High School, located on Darug Land, slumped to 78.7 per cent.

Now the average attendance rate is 85.3 per cent, with the number of students attending school 90 per cent of the time increasing by 30 per cent, and the school aims to continue the upwards trend.

Relieving Principal Heidi Caws is incredibly proud of the results and is looking forward to further improvements.

“I think why we’re seeing so much success in this area is because we’ve aimed to tackle attendance from all angles,” she said.

Canteen vouchers and ice-cream van visits have proven popular rewards for students working to improve and maintain strong attendance, but it’s the whole-of-school approach that has shown the most success.

Noticing a trend of decreased attendance on Fridays, the school introduced a Friday morning breakfast club, which has been a hit among students.

“We really try to listen to students to hear what works for them. Breakfast club is a highlight of the week for many students, so of course they want to make sure they’re here at school,” Ms Caws said.

“Our success in this area is a result of all of these strategies working together to provide holistic support to students, and ensuring school is a place they want to come to.”

Ms Caws said there was no question about the significant role attendance played in the lives of students.

“When attendance improves, we see academic improvement, stronger social skills and generally better wellbeing. We want what’s best for every student and that starts with regular school attendance,” she said.

Ms Caws said every member of staff, from the administration team in the school office to classroom teachers, the wellbeing team to school counsellors, had played a key role in the attendance boost.

“We’ve got lots of eyes on the kids here,” she said.

“We have a designated attendance team working with students to boost their attendance and have taken a very individualised approach.

“Our students set their own attendance goals with consistent follow-up support, so they have the best chance of achieving them.”

She said the work would not succeed without the support of the school's administrative staff.

“Our office staff are so critical – they send out positive letters to families to share attendance wins, follow-up absences, and reach out to parents and carers when we need to flag any attendance concerns. We wouldn’t be able to make these strides without them,” Ms Caws said.

The Department continues to provide support to schools and interventions to lift attendance rates by creating a positive environment for engagement and learning.

Parents and carers are encouraged to reach out to their child’s school with attendance concerns so they can access further support if needed.

Find more information on attendance here.

VIDEO: Every day matters

The NSW Department of Education has launched its 'Every day matters' attendance campaign.
  • Every day matters
  • News
Return to top of page Back to top