Drive to 95 as Kahibah Public focuses on attendance

The Lake Macquarie school is working hard with its community to ensure positive attendance. Luke Horton reports.

A woman standing under some balloons. A woman standing under some balloons.
Image: Kahibah Public School Principal Nadine Tagaroulias.

When Nadine Tagaroulias first took on the role of relieving principal at Kahibah Public School, on Awabakal Country, one of her key goals was to improve student attendance.

After several tough years beset by COVID lockdowns and learning from home, Mrs Tagaroulias was determined that student attendance would be above 90 per cent for all year groups by the end of 2023.

“I’m really proud to say we achieved it, and we’re now looking to continue these percentage rates,” Mrs Tagaroulias, now the substantive principal at Kahibah, said.

“We’re aiming for 95 per cent overall school attendance for Term 1 and I think we have a good chance of getting there.”

The attendance push has required significant planning from staff, as well as buy-in from the school community, some healthy competition among classes, and clear, regular messaging across social media and other communications channels.

“One of the very first things we did was share with the community the impacts of non-attendance and why it’s so important we have children at school each day,” Mrs Tagaroulias said.

“It’s about getting good practices in place early. When kids leave school and look to get a job, no employer wants someone who is only going to turn up four days out of five.”

Among the initiatives introduced by the school is large and colourful signage outside the entrance, and personalised postcards that are sent home to families each term for those students with above 95 per cent attendance.

Communication is key to the scheme, and Mrs Tagaroulias and her staff use both internal and external channels to make sure the message is reinforced regularly.

“We have fortnightly newsletter reminders, and we use our school bulletin on Sentral and our Facebook page to highlight how we’ve performed on overall attendance each week,” Mrs Tagaroulias said.

“We’re also working really closely with the Wiyellai Koa Community of Schools, which includes the local high school, and our focus in 2024 is to have consistent messaging on attendance across all seven schools.

“We want those good practices in place for when our kids go to high school and then beyond.”

The hard work has paid dividends, with a 13.5 per cent improvement in overall school attendance from 2022 to 2023, but Mrs Tagaroulias said there is still more to be done.

“We’re upskilling our staff to make sure they’re collecting the necessary data each week and we know we have to keep reiterating and reinforcing the message with our community,” she said.

“We want great school attendance to be seen as business as usual.”

  • Every day matters
  • News
Return to top of page Back to top