Student attendance in NSW public schools procedures

Direction and guidance to help school staff satisfy their obligations under the School attendance policy.

Audience

All NSW public school staff and education support staff, excluding preschools.

Version Date Description of changes Approved by
V02.0.0 15/03/2024

Under the 2023 Policy and procedure review program, transferred into new template and updated role and policy titles, table of definitions, roles and responsibilities and contact information. Also updated:

  • school attendance planning
  • recording student attendance
  • recording other absences and variations to attendance
  • responding to and reporting absences
  • record keeping.

Deleted information about leave passes.

Executive Director, Inclusion and Wellbeing

About the policy

These procedures relate to the School attendance policy.

Table of terms and definitions
Term Definition
Attendance register The school roll, which is taken as a record of students’ attendance at school.
Unexplained An absence has not been explained by the parent or carer.
Unjustified An absence has been explained by the parent or carer, but the principal does not accept the explanation.
Travel

Travel is domestic or international travel for the purpose of a family holiday, family business, Sorry Business, bereavement or other reasons.

NOTE: Sorry Business can also refer to family and cultural obligations prior to death.

Census school The school in which the student is enrolled for census purposes.
Host school The school that a student attends for a specific time or purpose while enrolled at a census school.
Parents or carers Any person or persons that have a parental responsibility for a child or young person, including a guardian, carer or other person having the custody of a child. Includes a guardian or other person having the custody or care of a child as defined in the Education Act 1990.

Public Schools division, including Directors, Educational Leadership, and Teaching Learning and Student Wellbeing division:

  • provide proactive, evidence-based and responsive specialist advice and support for schools
  • ensure schools have access to quality assured professional learning
  • support schools to maintain accurate records of student attendance in a form approved by the Minister
  • support schools to analyse attendance data and plan for attendance improvement
  • support principals to make decisions regarding complex attendance-related concerns
  • regularly evaluate and address school attendance through the school plan
  • monitor policy implementation and support provision.

Delivery Support, Team Around a School:

  • manage the Home School Liaison Program, including assessing applications and providing case management support to Home School Liaison Program staff
  • help to investigate Educational Destination Unknown (EDU) notifications
  • assist schools to manage exemption processes where required
  • provide schools with advice and support for students with complex support requirements.

Home School Liaison Officers and Aboriginal Attendance Officers:

  • support schools to manage individual students who have been formally referred for support to the Home School Liaison Program
  • assist the school to monitor attendance patterns and to identify students or cohorts in need of support
  • support schools to implement school-based strategies to address attendance concerns in partnership with students, parents or carers, and the school community.

Principals:

  • must ensure all staff understand their obligations under the policy
  • set high expectations for student attendance within their school
  • promote regular attendance at school through teaching and learning opportunities that support the needs of all students
  • have systems in place to maintain all attendance records including details of transfers and exemptions and make these accessible to the Director Educational Leadership, attendance officers and other personnel nominated by the Secretary of the Department of Education, Executive Director, or Audit directorate
  • regularly inform students, parents and carers and the school community, in a language that is understood, of the importance of attending school. A range of resources, including telephone interpreters and translated documents, are available to support this process
  • consult with their Director, Educational Leadership and/or Delivery Support, Team Around a School staff where they require additional advice and support around attendance-related concerns
  • in determining a threshold for habitual absence, should consider factors such as the student’s age, learning support needs, and whether absences are a secondary result of a primary child protection concern (for example, medical neglect, domestic violence or child is a danger to self or others). Principals do not need to wait until absences become significant if they believe they are child protection related. Principals should use the appropriate decision tree in the Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) and/or contact the Child Wellbeing Unit (CWU) where appropriate if they believe the student is at suspected risk of significant harm, to receive further guidance and support
  • if there are child protection concerns underlying school attendance issues and a student has not been sighted, contact the CWU within 24 hours for advice.

School staff:

  • promote regular attendance at school through teaching and learning activities that support the needs of all students
  • must maintain accurate records of student attendance including roll marking using appropriate codes and recording absence explanations (see Record Keeping Requirements section)
  • must alert the principal, or their supervisor when there are concerns about student attendance
  • when nominated by the principal, liaise with external agencies, arrange referral and coordinate involvement of the school with other services and agencies working with students. Nominated staff provide feedback about outcomes to the principal and the school's attendance team.

Parents and carers:

  • must ensure their children of compulsory school age are enrolled in a public or registered non-government school or, they are registered with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for home schooling
  • must ensure their children who are enrolled at school attend every day the school is open for instruction
  • work in partnership with the school to plan and implement strategies to support regular attendance, including communicating with the school if they are aware of issues impacting on their child’s attendance or engagement with school
  • must provide an explanation for absences to the school within 7 days of each individual absence.

What needs to be done

1. School attendance planning

School attendance is a shared responsibility, but school principals and executive teams have important roles to play in making attendance an area of focus in their communities.

Principals must:

  • make attendance a feature of their Strategic Improvement Plan where it has been identified as an area of improvement
  • include progress measures that represent the work the school is doing in support of their attendance improvement measure in the school’s Strategic Improvement Plan
  • ensure staff responsible for monitoring attendance are trained in the use of Scout, the department’s data analysis platform
  • ensure there are processes to support staff in monitoring and escalating attendance concerns.

Principals and school executives should:

  • emphasise the importance of student attendance in their annual planning
  • unite the whole school community, including local Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups (AECGs) and external service providers, behind a shared goal of increasing attendance rates
  • provide professional development opportunities to help staff understand the complexities of school attendance
  • develop and implement processes and strategies aimed at achieving positive student attendance
  • engage respectfully and authentically with all parents and carers and community members to communicate the school’s attendance initiatives and invite parents and carers to participate in the planning process in a culturally safe environment.

1.1 Building a team-based approach to attendance

Working collaboratively with the school community leads to better attendance and improved student outcomes. This includes regular monitoring of attendance data for cohorts and individual students to reduce barriers faced by students from priority equity cohorts, including Aboriginal students, students with disability, students from low socio-economic backgrounds and English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) learners.

Schools should adopt strategies best suited to their circumstances.

A school might:

  • establish a dedicated attendance team to ensure the involvement of key stakeholders in developing a whole school approach to improving attendance. The composition of any such team will vary depending on the context of the school and its community, but it should meet at least fortnightly to ensure attendance remains a key focus for the school. For further advice, refer to the School attendance team (PDF 210 KB) resource
  • make school attendance a standing item at Learning and Support Team meetings
  • involve all staff, including administrative, learning and support staff and Aboriginal education support staff in the implementation of the policy. Students, parents and carers and community members also have roles to play.

The Universal resources hub offers a suite of resources including practical tips on attendance planning and engagement.

2. Recording student attendance

Teachers need to record student attendance to enable accurate reporting. Rolls must reflect the highest professional standards.

Where schools record student attendance using third-party systems, they must ensure:

  • third-party systems are department approved
  • they use the approved attendance register codes (PDF 70 KB) when marking the roll
  • they contact EDConnect with any concerns about transferring data
  • schools using a manual roll also add attendance data to the electronic roll. Note: in situations where a manual roll is used, the principal, or a nominated member of the executive or teaching staff, is responsible for maintaining and signing it.

Once the roll is marked, the school must contact the parent or carer of any student absent without an explanation by the next school day. This can be done through automatic generated electronic means such as SMS or email. Where the school has identified child protection concerns for a student or family, the parent or carer should be contacted as soon as possible on the day of the absence.

2.1 Marking the roll

Teachers must:

  • record school attendance on the roll at the commencement of the school day
  • in high schools, record attendance each period or lesson
  • in primary schools, record attendance in classes regularly conducted in locations other than the home classroom, and after recess and lunch breaks
  • when a student arrives late or departs early, record the precise times of arrival or departure with the relevant attendance register codes (PDF 70 KB)
  • when using a manual roll, follow the exception method (marking absences only).

The principal or their delegate must:

  • countersign the roll where a manual roll is used, which then becomes the formal record of attendance
  • ensure that explanations for absences are recorded within 7 days of each individual absence
  • retain any explanations provided after the 7-day period, but do not amend the roll
  • ensure parents and carers are aware that they can provide explanations for absence within 7 days during school holiday periods, via email or other electronic means
  • develop a local process to manage the recording of absence explanations received during a school holiday period.

2.2 Correcting roll marking errors

School staff must:

  • amend the electronic roll within 7 days of the absence
  • where a manual roll is used for excursions, special events or in other circumstances, transfer it to the electronic roll within 7 days.

2.3 Recording absence notifications, including medical certificates

All absences must be explained.

Staff need to:

  • record student absences in the roll
  • include any evidence provided, including emails and written notes. A data entry, on its own, does not provide enough context. Supporting evidence may be required under subpoena or under the Government Information (Public Access) 2009.


These may include the school receiving:

  • an email or an SMS, or notification via a third-party system from a parent or carer, with a copy of the actual email or SMS response retained in student files
  • a verbal explanation from a parent or carer. The staff member who receives the explanation must make a written note (can be stored digitally) indicating who provided the explanation, date and time, and retain this information in student files
  • a handwritten note from a parent or carer. The staff member who receives the note must sign and date the note and retain the original copy in student files. A digital copy can also be created and retained.

For further information please access the following information on the State Records website, Legal admissibility of digital records and Records systems: characteristics and functions.

2.4 Requesting medical certificates

A principal can grant sick leave without requiring a medical certificate, but there are circumstances outlined in section 23 part 7 of the Education Act 1990 where a principal may choose to request more information.

Principals can:

  • ask the parent or carer to provide a medical certificate if they have concerns with the explanation provided, or where there is a history of poor attendance or other child protection concerns
  • where they have ongoing concerns, can request the parent’s consent for a doctor to provide information about their child’s heath condition. To support the student’s attendance at school, it is essential the school has all relevant information to ensure the student’s learning and health care needs are addressed through the individual health care planning process. If the request is denied or the principal is still not satisfied with the reason for the absence, they can record the absence as ‘unjustified’
  • refer to the attendance register codes (PDF 70 KB) to ensure absences for medical reasons are recorded accurately.

If the parent does not provide consent for a doctor to provide information to the school, principals can seek information from prescribed bodies under Chapter 16A of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 where they have ongoing concerns regarding a student’s safety, welfare or wellbeing. The Child Wellbeing Unit can be contacted for further information or advice.

2.5 Securing manual rolls

If using a manual roll, school staff must:

  • store manual rolls in a secure location within the school
  • not remove rolls from the school premises unless removal is warranted by exceptional circumstances such as fire or flood
  • not take rolls home
  • report the loss of a manual roll immediately to the Director, Educational Leadership
  • begin a new roll immediately if the previous roll is lost
  • not include attendance information referring to absences before the new roll
  • attach a notice, signed by the principal, to the new roll stating the period of the original roll (for example, 1 February – 30 March 2024) and the date from which the replacement roll starts.

At the end of the school year, the principal must ensure that the roll and attached Special Circumstances Registers are preserved as a complete record of students’ absences for that year.

3. Recording other absences and variations to attendance

3.1 Maintaining the Special Circumstance Register

School staff must use the Special Circumstance Register (PDF 86 KB) when:

  • there is full or part-day industrial action involving teachers
  • on approved school development days
  • a school is non-operational due to a natural occurrence, such as fire or flood (the principal should consult with the Director, Educational Leadership before declaring a school to be non-operational)
  • students are attending another public school for a short period of time while enrolled in their local school
  • students attend a suspension centre because they are suspended from school in accordance with the department’s Suspension and expulsion procedures.

Special Circumstance Registers should:

  • specify the dates and times of the variation
  • indicate the reason for the variation
  • list students attending on that day
  • be signed by the teacher maintaining the register
  • be permanently attached to the rolls.

For schools using a manual roll, a broken line must be ruled through that day’s column with a notation ‘Roll not marked’.

Do not record absences on these days on student records or count them as absences for statistical purposes.

3.2 Reporting student attendance at school sports sessions

School staff must:

  • ensure adequate attendance monitoring practices are in place for school sport sessions
  • mark the roll at the beginning and end of each sports session
  • transfer sports session attendance data to the roll by the end of the school day
  • follow up absentees immediately and implement procedures for managing truancy.

3.3 Recording student participation in flexible timetables

School staff must:

  • record the attendance of students participating in flexible timetables in the usual manner
  • record scheduled days or periods of non-attendance using attendance register code ‘F’
  • provide students participating in flexible timetables with documentation identifying specific days or parts of days when they are not required to be at school. This may include a timetable on school letterhead bearing the school stamp.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • HSC pathways programs including school-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBATs)
  • Best Start assessments
  • Trial or HSC examinations
  • vocational education and training (VET) courses
  • staggered starts at the beginning of school terms.

3.4 Recording students attending private off-site lessons during school hours

Principals can grant leave only in rare and exceptional circumstances for students to attend a private, off-site event, such as an examination. This provision must not be used on a regular basis and does not include participation in elite sport or elite arts (refer to the Exemption from school procedures).

The following are not considered private lessons:

  • HSC courses conducted outside school
  • participation in work placement
  • TAFE-based courses.

3.5 Recording students as short-term attendance

Students can only be enrolled in one school at any given time. However, a student enrolled at one public school may need to attend another public school for a short period of time. Examples may include, but are not limited to, family care arrangements, medical or mental health treatment, domestic or family violence, natural disasters or events, or due to cultural obligations for Sorry Business. When this happens, the enrolled school and host school must ensure compliance with the policy.

The principal at the student’s enrolled school must:

  • consult with the host school regarding the learning requirements and progress of the student and any other information such as risk management and/or health care requirements
  • receive the completed Special Circumstance Register from the host school and add the information to the attendance records for the student.

The principal at the host school must:

  • complete a Special Circumstance Register (PDF 796 KB) (staff only) (see section above) for the student’s attendance and forward it to the student’s enrolled school at the end of each week for inclusion in the roll
  • gather the necessary information from the student’s enrolled school to determine if a risk assessment is required. The objective of the risk assessment should be the maintenance of a safe learning environment for staff and students.

Short-term attendance can only be used in unavoidable situations, not as a preference of choice, for example travel or holidays. It is generally not granted for periods exceeding 10 school weeks.

Short-term attendance arrangements should not unduly disrupt programs in the host school. They should not result in any reorganisation of classes or timetables.

3.6 Recording students with shared enrolments

Students can attend a specialist education setting separate to a mainstream school on a sessional or full-time basis in line with the department’s Enrolment of students in NSW Government schools policy.

School staff must use the attendance register code ‘H’ when:

  • a student is enrolled in a school and is required or approved to attend an alternative educational setting on a sessional or full-time basis
  • a student accesses education settings separate to their mainstream school, such as tutorial centre and programs, behaviour schools, schools in youth justice centres, hospital schools, distance education.

Both census and host schools:

  • mark the shared student’s attendance as usual for the days the student is expected at their school
  • use the ‘H’ code for any full days or part days the student is not expected at their school.

Host schools do not need to provide their shared student enrolments’ attendance data to the census school via the Special Circumstances Register.

The census school may still request details of attendance from the host school for their information, but it is not a requirement for attendance records.

The transfer of attendance data from all schools to the department is now automated. Where the school marks the rolls manually, they must enter the attendance data into an approved attendance recording system.

Please note, short-term attendance is not a shared enrolment and requires the use of the Special Circumstances register. Refer to section 3.5 for further information.

3.7 Requirements for students leaving the school grounds during school hours

Secondary and central schools should develop a local process to manage students (Years 7-12) who have permission to leave school premises during normal school hours and are not:

  • accompanied by school staff on school sporting activities or excursions
  • participating in regular timetabled school activities such as vocational education
  • going home for lunch each day.

4. Responding to and reporting absences

Follow the steps outlined here when responding to absences.

4.1 Contacting parents and carers about unexplained absences

School staff:

  • must contact the parent or carer of any student absent without an explanation by the next school day. This can be done through automatic generated electronic means such as SMS or email. Where the school knows or has identified child protection concerns for a student or family, the parent or carer should be contacted as soon as possible on the day of the absence
  • should continue to attempt to contact the parent or carer until either an explanation is received or the student returns to school. Principals should use their professional judgement and knowledge of the student’s circumstances when determining level and type of contact. After ten consecutive days of unexplained absence, commence enrolment destination unknown processes
  • use the Telephone Interpreter Service and translated materials as needed when communicating with parents and carers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

4.2 Concerning patterns of attendance

All school staff have a role to play in identifying concerning patterns of attendance. A student is considered to have unsatisfactory school attendance when they have:

  • frequent absences without explanation
  • frequent absences that are explained, but the principal deems them unjustified.

When a concerning pattern of attendance is identified, staff should adopt whatever measures are necessary to re-establish an acceptable attendance record. These may include:

  • meeting with the student and/or parents and carers. Meetings and interviews may involve representatives from appropriate support agencies, and/or the telephone interpreting service and should ensure cultural safety for all participants
  • ensuring the school is providing a culturally safe environment
  • where applicable, referring the matter to the school’s learning and support and/or attendance teams to identify and implement strategies that address any additional learning and support needs the student may have
  • developing a school-based attendance improvement plan in consultation with the student, parents and carers and other relevant stakeholders
  • engaging the identified student/s or cohorts in programs that promote regular attendance
  • referring the student to the school counsellor (if appropriate and in consultation with parents and carers)
  • requesting and sharing information and working collaboratively where appropriate with other government or non-government agencies
  • where applicable, for Aboriginal students, seeking the support of the Aboriginal education staff and/or the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG)
  • seeking advice about culturally appropriate responses from relevant services, the local AECG and community groups where applicable and working collaboratively with said services to improve attendance.

4.3 Accepting or declining an explanation for an absence

Principals can decline to accept an explanation for an absence and record the absence as ‘unjustified’. The parent or carer should be advised that the explanation has not been accepted and a reason for the decision provided.

4.4 Frequent absences due to illness

School staff should consult parents and carers about the health support needs of their child when frequent absences are being explained due to illness.

Principals must:

  • consider whether frequent absences are a secondary result of a primary child protection concern such as, medical neglect or child being a danger to self or others
  • refer to the appropriate decision tree in the Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) and/or contact the Child Wellbeing Unit if they believe the student to be at risk of significant harm.

When a range of school-based interventions are unsuccessful in resolving concerning patterns of attendance, principals can seek assistance from Team Around a School staff. If attendance is still a concern, schools may refer to the Home School Liaison Program application (PDF 840 KB) (staff only).

Principals:

When a case is accepted onto the Home School Liaison Program, the principal must:

  • ensure the school continues to implement strategies to support the student’s regular attendance at school
  • maintain regular communication and collaboration between the family, school and attendance officers.

4.5 Removing a student from the roll

Staff may only change a student’s enrolment status in Enrolment Register Number (ERN) system to ‘Left’ in certain situations.

1. When parents or carers advise the school that their child is enrolled in a non-government or other registered school.

Schools must:

  • request that the parent or carer provide the name of the non-government or other registered school so that the enrolment can be confirmed
  • not change the status in ERN (the student should not be marked as ‘Left’) until confirmation of enrolment is received from the enrolling school
  • take all reasonable measures to attempt to confirm enrolment details. Measures may include contacting the school provided by the parent, requests under Chapter 16A, appropriate contact with the Child Wellbeing Unit (CWU) if there are concerns for the safety, welfare or wellbeing of the student, or reports to the Child Protection Helpline if there are suspected significant risk of harm concerns.

2. When the student has enrolled in another NSW Government school. Once the enrolling school confirms enrolment, the former school can change the student’s status in ERN to ‘Left.'

3. When parents or carers provide the school with a certificate of registration for Home Schooling from NESA. Where a principal has only received verbal advice from a parent regarding registration for home schooling, they can contact attendance officers who will verify the information by checking the NESA databases. An application for home schooling is not a guarantee of acceptance and students should remain enrolled and attend their local school until registration is confirmed. Follow standard non-attendance procedures if this is not occurring. Principals can only mark a student as ‘Left’ in ERN once the student’s registration is verified.

4. When students are still of compulsory schooling age and have successfully completed Year 10, and there is documented evidence that they are engaged in:

  • full-time approved education or training where the provider of the approved education or training certifies that the education or training is being delivered on a full-time basis
  • full-time employment where full time is defined as an average of 25 hours per week over a 4-week period
  • a combination of approved education or training and paid work where full time is defined as an average of 25 hours per week over a 4-week period of either paid work or face-to-face instruction in connection to the approved education or training.

5. When parents or carers of students who have turned 17 request to end the enrolment. If there are no known child protection concerns, the student can be marked as ‘Left’ on the roll. If there are child protection concerns, refer to the Child Protection Policy Guidelines and/or contact the CWU for advice.

6. When a student has turned 17, not attended for more than one term and the school has been unable to contact the parent or carer to obtain consent to remove the student from the roll. Schools should attempt written contact (letter and digital) providing a notice period of 2 weeks for the family to respond. If no response is received, schools can mark the student as ‘Left’ on the roll, ensuring that any child protection concerns are reported.

7. When parents or carers advise the school that their child is enrolled in a school in another state. The principal must confirm the interstate enrolment before removing the student from the roll.

8. When a school receives an Interstate Student Data Transfer Note from a student’s new school, the student can be removed from the roll.

9. When a student has been expelled from the school in accordance with the department’s Suspension and expulsion procedures. The student’s enrolment status should not be changed to ‘Left – Expelled’ in ERN until issues regarding the student's educational placement have been resolved and the new enrolment confirmed.

4.6 When students are believed to have left the school and their destination is unknown

If a student is not attending school and the student’s family has not provided a reason for the absence, there are several actions the school needs to take before removing the student’s name from the roll. This process is managed via ERN using the Registration Status ‘Left – Destination Unknown'.

If the student is of compulsory school age and has been marked as ‘absent’ for more than a total of 10 consecutive school days, where the school is open for instruction, and the student is believed to have left the school, the school should:

  • contact the parents or carers to seek an explanation
  • contact the emergency contact recorded for the student
  • investigate the student’s enrolment/registration status on ERN
  • contact government and non-government schools within a reasonable radius based on geographical location of any presumed new residential address.

Following this investigation, if the school is unable to locate the student, the school must submit an Educational Destination Unknown (EDU) application for Home School Liaison Program support to their schools Learning and Wellbeing Officer.

The Home School Liaison Officer (HSLO) and/or Aboriginal Attendance Officer (AAO) will investigate the matter within 7 days. As part of the investigation, if it is believed the student has relocated interstate:

  • the HSLO or AAO may complete an interstate enrolment check
  • if the enrolment destination cannot be determined, the HSLO or AAO will advise the principal that the student’s registration can be changed to ‘Left – Destination Unknown'.

In changing the student’s enrolment status to ‘Left – Destination Unknown’, the principal must ensure:

  • any suspected risk of significant harm issues including educational neglect have been reported to the Department of Community and Justice’s Child Protection Helpline
  • where the family or student is missing (or their destination is unknown) and there are concerns for their safety, welfare or wellbeing, a report is made within 24 hours to the Health and Safety directorate (in line with Incident notification and response procedures) to determine if the matter has been reported to the Police. If Health, Safety and Staff Wellbeing directorate notify that no report has been made, the principal is to report the matter to their local Police
  • the Director, Educational Leadership is informed that, following investigation by the Home School Liaison Program, the student is unable to be located. The director can approve a change to the student’s enrolment status to ‘Left – Destination Unknown'.

If a student is later located, the school can change the status on ERN to ‘Left – Located'.

The school should also investigate, as outlined above, if the student is of post-compulsory-school age, their whereabouts are unknown, and the student has not attended school for 15 consecutive school days for reasons not known to the school.

After the investigation, the student’s status on ERN can be changed to ‘Left – Destination Unknown’. This does not require elevation to the Home School Liaison Program or Director, Educational Leadership approval. However, schools should carry out mandatory reporting to Department of Communities and Justice and the Police where there are known safety concerns for the student.

If a student’s name has been removed from the roll because their enrolment destination is unknown, absences from the last day of attendance at school are not included as absences for statistical purposes. The roll should be amended to reflect this.

4.7 Extended leave

Student absences outside vacation periods are counted as absences for statistical purposes.

This applies to extended periods of leave that families might seek for various reasons, including a family holiday, family travel or bereavement.

  • Do not use an exemption for family travel and holidays.
  • There is no upper or lower limit of days that parents or carers can apply for or have approved for extended leave. When the travel period exceeds one school term, access to Distance Education must be considered. Refer to the Distance education enrolment procedures (PDF 345 KB).
  • Do not issue a Certificate of Extended Leave – Travel (PDF 815 KB) if the principal is aware that the student has been the subject of contact with the Child Wellbeing Unit or a report to the Child Protection Helpline.
  • A principal should not accept a reason for travel during school term if it is not in the best interests of the student. Educational, social and participation reasons should be considered and specified on the application (PDF 815 KB).
  • The purpose of the travel should be specified on the application.
  • Principals should encourage parents to take holidays with their child during school vacation periods.
  • If the principal accepts the leave application:
    • record the absence as code ‘L’
    • issue a Certificate of Extended Leave – Holiday.
  • If the principal declines the leave application:
    • record the absence as code ‘A’
    • do not issue a Certificate of Extended Leave – Holiday
    • communicate the reasons to the parent or carer.
  • Principals should request travel documentation, such as travel itinerary or e-ticket, and ensure this is attached to the application.
  • Principals should ensure that parents are assisted to complete the application and provide a translation service if required.
  • Principals may use their discretion to decline a parent’s Application for Extended Leave – Travel. In this case the parent must be advised in writing.
  • On granting a parent’s application, principals must issue a Certificate of Extended Leave - Travel. The original certificate will be provided to the parent and a copy of the certificate placed in each student’s record.
  • While a student is on leave, they are recorded as being absent from school. Although parents or carers may request and schools may provide learning opportunities during the period of leave, there is no requirement for this to occur. Students on leave are to be marked on the roll as ‘L’ regardless of whether learning is provided or completed.
  • If a student or students do not return on the date specified, the principal must ensure the parents are contacted to establish the whereabouts of the student. If contact is not established, then the principal should follow processes associated with Educational Destination Unknown (EDU).

5. Maintaining attendance records

School attendance records must include:

a register of admission to be retained permanently (maintained on the Enrolment Registration Number System – ERN)

written notes, records of verbal explanations and records of electronic explanations for absences from parents or carers. This advice is to be retained in either the student file, an electronic file (or both) for 2 years from the date of receipt. The record must be able to be produced on request

a roll, to be retained for 3 years. In a case where a student has an accident requiring an accident report, all attendance records should be retained until the year the student reaches 25 years of age

in secondary schools, retain a record of the attendance at each period until the end of the school year

information detailing a student’s absences each year, kept on the student’s file until 7 years after the student has left. If a student has had an accident necessitating an accident report, retain the record until the student reaches 25 years of age.

Records for certificates of exemptions from attendance and enrolment must be kept, consistent with the requirements of the Exemption from school procedures.

Refer to Functional Retention and Disposal Authority: FA387 (PDF 106 KB) for further information on retaining and disposing of records.

Mandatory tools and templates

Supporting tools, resources and related information

Policy contact

Director, Behaviour and Student Participation
attendance@det.nsw.edu.au
02 7814 2937

The Director, Behaviour and Student Participation monitors the implementation of this procedure, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.

Reference number PD-2005-0259-02-V02.0.0
Implementation date

Last updated

15/03/2024

Publicly available

Yes

Policy cluster/s

Administration (schools and students)

Category:

  • School operations

Topics:

  • Administration (schools and students)

Business Unit:

  • Inclusion and Wellbeing
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