School Attendance

Direction and guidance on the requirements for attendance in NSW public schools.


All NSW public school staff, excluding preschools.

Version Date Description of changes Approved by
V08.0.0 15/03/2024 Under the 2023 Policy and procedure review program, converted into new policy template, minor updates to language to reduce duplication and moved roles and into the relevant procedures. Executive Director, Inclusion and Wellbeing

Document history

2023 Oct 18 minor wording changes to section 4.2.3 of the policy statement.

2022 Aug 04 - updated links in the policy statement and to bring it in line with policy template. Updated implementation document, Student Attendance in Government Schools Procedures, to include a link to the digital forms for the exemption travel form and certificate.

2020 Aug 11 - updated contact details and minor text changes.

2010 Jan 27 - The policy was updated to reflect:

  • new Legislation including the Education Amendment (School Attendance) Act 2009 commenced on 1 January 2010 and
  • the introduction of the new school leaving age which came into effect in January 2010.

Further updates in this version:

  • implemented the ACARA National Standards for Student Attendance Data Reporting
  • provided guidance on attendance and students with health care needs
  • provided guidance on what constitutes unsatisfactory attendance.

Superseded documents

School Attendance Policy and Procedures (1991)
School Attendance Policy (2005)

  1. Policy statement
    1. Section 22 of the Education Act 1990 states that it is the duty of the parent or carer of a child of compulsory school-age to cause the child to either:
      • be enrolled at, and to attend, a government school or a registered non-government school
      • be registered for home schooling with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and to receive instruction in accordance with the conditions to which the registration is subject.
    2. All students who are enrolled at school, regardless of their age, are expected to attend that school whenever instruction is provided.
    3. Section 24 of the Act requires principals to maintain an attendance register (roll) in a form approved by the Minister. Attendance registers must be available for inspection during school hours by an Inspector or by an authorised person.
    4. Parents or carers are required to explain the absences of their children from school promptly. An explanation for absence must be provided to the school within 7 calendar days of the first day of any period of absence.
    5. Schools must provide clear information in a form or language understood by students and parents or carers regarding attendance requirements and the consequences of unsatisfactory attendance.
    6. Principals must ensure the school has effective measures in place to monitor and follow up student absences.
    7. When a school becomes concerned about a student's attendance, staff must address the student's learning and support needs with their parents or carers.
    8. All staff must respond to and report any matter relating to school attendance where safety, welfare or wellbeing concerns arise for a student. Refer to Child protection: responding to and reporting students at risk of harm policy and Mandatory Reporter Guide.
  2. Context
    1. Regular attendance at school is essential to assist students to maximise their potential. Schools, in partnership with parents and carers, are responsible for promoting the regular attendance of students.
    2. Encouraging regular attendance is a core school responsibility.
    3. This policy should be read in the context of the Enrolment of students in NSW Government schools policy and the General enrolment procedures (PDF 298 KB).
    4. The department may grant an exemption from attendance and/or enrolment in some circumstances, in line with the Exemption from school procedures.
  3. Policy contact
    1. Director, Behaviour and Student Participation
      02 7814 2937
  4. Monitoring the policy
    1. The Director, Behaviour and Student Participation, monitors the implementation of this policy, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.
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