Encouraging regular attendance via parent communication

Through collaborative partnership and open communication, we can enable a culture of regular school attendance and student success.

Quakers Hill East Public School

Messaging parents and carers is seeing attendance returning to pre-Covid levels at Nemingha Public School. A trial of engaging parents and carers via SMS at Quakers Hill East Public School led to noticeable improvements in attendance, according to principal Larisa Maraga.

School Snapshot

Quakers Hill East Public School is located in Acacia Gardens in western Sydney. It has 749 students, of which 62% come from a language background other than English.

SMS usage sees better student attendance, and parent engagement.

A trial of engaging parents and carers via SMS at Quakers Hill East Public School led to noticeable improvements in attendance, according to principal Larisa Maraga.

Participating in a State-wide trial in 2021, the school sent a weekly SMS message which gave parents and carers simple information about what their child learned that week.

They also had a clear action parents and carers could take to support learning and provided encouragement to parents and carers with their child’s learning.

For example, one message involved telling parents students learned about different addition strategies. “A good question to ask would be to add 17 and six,” it said. “Encourage [the student] to lock 17 in their head and count on six more to find the total.”

The SMS trial applied behavioural and educational science, which indicated parents and carers can find it difficult to keep track of what children were learning and know how best to support their child with their schoolwork.

SMS was chosen as a channel for messages because it is direct, immediate and compelling. Apart from having a mobile telephone, SMS has few barriers to entry and there is no additional login process.

Increase in both parent engagement and student attendance

The principal of Quakers Hill East, Larissa Maraga, said there was a noticeable improvement not only in parent engagement, but also student attendance.

“We saw an improvement in student attendance, we saw a range of between 2 per cent and 7 per cent of students, improving over the course of the term,” she said.

“Parents felt they were more connected with what was happening in students’ classroom,” she said.

Particularly having a community with a lot of families who have English as an additional language or dialect, having a text message was something they were familiar with and could have instant access to.

“Sometimes other apps require a login, whereas this went straight to their mobile phone. It was instant, it wasn’t an added task.”

The results of the state-wide trial showed that simple, science-backed weekly messages led to parents and carers being more likely to prioritise their child’s attendance at school than parents and carers who had not been part of the trial.

Additionally, evidence from international trials suggests sending regular messages helps build parent and carer engagement and increase positive attitudes towards school attendance and even increase academic achievement.

Source: quotes appeared in a Sydney Morning Herald article, 27 February 2022.

Originally published: 26-Sep-2022


  • Communication and engagement
  • School operations


  • Behaviour
  • Communications
  • High performance

Business Unit:

  • Teaching, Learning and Student Wellbeing
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