Rouse Hill High slam dunks attendance

Empowering students with their own data and a viral video proves a game changer. Jim Griffiths reports.

Students and teachers posing with certificates. Students and teachers posing with certificates.
Image: Rouse Hill High School Principal Simon Kelly, Sydney Kings Assistant Coach and former NBA player Daniel Kickert, Head Teacher Secondary Studies Joshua Cutting and Deputy Principal Melanie Castle with students.

When Rouse Hill High School decided to lift its attendance rate to more than 95%, Deputy Principal Melanie Castle empowered the students to make changes for themselves.

Introduced last year, Student Led Attendance Monitoring – or SLAM! – sees Year 7 and 8 students setting their own goals for attendance for each half term.

Ms Castle said all Year 7s and 8s were emailed their attendance data every five weeks, just before a specific SLAM! lesson.

“In the SLAM! lesson they complete a template where they set goals for their attendance, identify barriers and talk about strategies they can use to overcome them,” Ms Castle said.

Joshua Cutting, Head Teacher Secondary Studies, and Year coordinators monitor the attendance rates; and check-ins and mentoring meetings support the students to meet their own attendance goal.

SLAM! is also backed up by the whole school community, with focused parent communication increasing, including emails letting parents know of their child’s attendance rate and the school’s expectations.

Posters around the school, follow-up phone calls and text messages to parents and a data wall for staff displaying students in the 80-90% range complete the picture.

Introducing SLAM! has seen Year 7 attendance rates of over 90 per cent in 2023 increase from 72 pre cent to 80 per cent, and Year 8 attendance rates of over 90 per cent increase from 57 per cent to 73 per cent.

However, it was a video introducing the program that had the most surprising effect.

The video, which shows Mr Cutting slam dunking a basketball, found its way into the hands of local resident and Sydney Kings Assistant Coach and former NBA player Daniel Kickert.

Mr Kickert couldn’t resist the challenge, and last week visited the school to show his support for the program, as the first of what is hoped are a number of engagements with the Sydney Kings.

“The first hurdle is just to show up. When you don’t show up, you don’t have the opportunity to improve,” Mr Kickert told a very excited cohort of Year 7s and 8s.

It’s a lesson from his own training story that all students could take to heart.

And at Rouse Hill High, they certainly are.

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