Wrap around support helps improve attendance at Chester Hill High

Chester Hill High School has reversed a post-COVID slump through a focus on wellbeing and individually addressing issues affecting attendance.

Students standing chatting in front of a mural on a shed. Students standing chatting in front of a mural on a shed.
Image: Students enjoy a inclusive and safe learning environment at Chester Hill High School.

Creating an “inclusive and safe learning environment” combined with a structured, individualised approach to address attendance issues have paid dividends for Chester Hill High School.

The school now has an above average attendance rate of 84.08 per cent, which is above the state average of 84.02 per cent and significantly above the Statistically Similar School Group (SSSG) average of 79.14 per cent.

Principal Maria O’Harae said the school suffered a “considerable dip” in attendance following the COVID pandemic.

Being in a region that was the epicentre of strict COVID lockdowns (Sydney’s south-west) Chester Hill High struggled to get students back to school once restrictions were lifted, Ms O'Harae said.

“We’ve worked very hard since to get our attendance rates back up,” she said.

Central to this hard work is the “wrap around support” the school now gives to students who may be having issues with attendance.

“We have a tiered, wellbeing focused intervention support system that is welfare based,” Ms O'Harae said.

Parents, the year adviser, head teacher, home school liaison officer and wellbeing teachers are progressively engaged to identify the issues affecting attendance for the individual student. A plan is then put in place to address the issues.

The school has created a wellbeing resource hub and employed a second wellbeing teacher to support any intervention that promotes attendance.

Ms O’Harae said the school had also made a “concerted effort” to communicate to parents at every information night about the “correlation between attendance and achievement”.

“We include posts in our social media platforms about why attendance is important,” she said.

Ms O’Harae said the school aimed to create and promote a safe learning environment at the school through “whole school celebrations” for events like RUOK Day and Harmony Day, which also helped to boost attendance.

Students standing in a in front of a garden. Students standing in a in front of a garden.
Image: Student attendance has lifted above the state average.
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