Hunter students embrace attendance message

Close co-operation with families and whole-school initiatives have seen attendance rates rise in Hunter schools like Greta and Lochinvar public schools. Sven Wright reports.

A group of four young children smiling at the camera A group of four young children smiling at the camera
Image: Community effort: Lochinvar Public School has lifted a key attendance marker by 22 per cent.

Parents and carers in the Hunter are embracing the message that every day counts for their children at school.

Schools are using new ways of encouraging regular attendance, including innovative rewards schemes, closer monitoring and strengthening relations with the community.

The families of Greta and Lochinvar public schools are among those benefitting from the renewed focus on attendance.

Principal Sharon Morris said Greta Public’s initiatives included daily hero tickets, class puzzles, end-of-year semester rewards, positive greeting of latecomers, group support for students, and regular written communication of each student’s individual attendance to parents twice a term.

“We are incredibly proud that the percentage of students attending at least 90 per cent of the time went up from just under 39 per cent in the first half of 2022 to more than 61 per cent in the same period last year,” she said.

“It’s a whole-of-community effort, from our families to our staff and students. We are all working hard to ensure our students have the best opportunities to learn and grow at school by regularly attending.”

Lochinvar Public Principal Libby Cantwell said daily routines including puzzle rewards, text and phone follow-ups with parents, a whole-class competition, and fortnightly and semester rewards had helped improve attendance.

“Community engagement in lifting attendance is essential,” said Principal Libby Cantwell.

“With parents and carers supporting us we’ve been able to see a steady rise in attendance over the past two years and our overall figure for 2022 of 86.5 per cent attendance has gone to well above 92 per cent so far this year.”

Ben Higginbottom, Relieving Director, Educational Leadership, for the Maitland region said it was hard to overstate the benefits of regular school attendance.

He said it contributed to personal confidence, maintaining relationships and wellbeing, as well as lifting academic outcomes and career options.

“A missed day or two might not seem much, but they add up and lead to students falling behind,” he said.

“Even one day a fortnight adds up to four weeks a year and an entire year over a whole school career.

“Ensuring students attend every day unless they are unwell and booking holidays during breaks are just two ways to help students meet their attendance goals.

“And if families need support, they are always very welcome to reach out to their school.”

Overall student attendance in NSW public schools increased from 85.2 per cent in 2022 to 88.1 per cent last year, and schools are continuing to work to lift rates even further.

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