Compulsory school attendance

Regular attendance at school is essential for students to achieve quality life outcomes. Schools, in partnership with parents, are responsible for promoting the regular attendance of students.

Purpose of resource

The Compulsory School Attendance resource provides schools, in partnership with parents, with an avenue for promoting the requirements for the attendance of students in NSW government schools.

Target audience

This resource can be used by school leadership teams to support planning for improved attendance.

When and how to use

The appropriate time to use this resource may differ for each school, leader and teacher.

Using school attendance data, school leaders could identify a need and explore the webpage for strategies.

Staff may identify a specific attendance need and explore the webpage for appropriate strategies.

Research base

  • Government school student attendance 2019
  • Supporting school completion: The importance of engagement and effective teaching
  • Improving high school engagement, classroom practices and achievement
  • Spotlight: Attendance Matters
  • What Works Best


Email feedback about this resource to using subject line, ‘Re: Compulsory School Attendance – Webpage’.

Alignment to system priorities and/or needs: The Department of Education committed under Our Plan for NSW Public Education, to strengthen student wellbeing and development through increasing attendance rates.

Alignment to School Excellence Framework: Learning Culture - Attendance

Alignment to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Create and Maintain supportive and safe learning environments.

Consulted with: This resource was created by across directorate team with staff from both school based and corporate divisions including the Attendance Policy team, Systems Design and Comms and Engagement.

Reviewed by: Attendance Policy Team

Created/last updated: Originally published September 2020. Last updated July 2023.

To be reviewed: July 2024.

Attendance Policy

The School Attendance Policy sets out the requirements for the attendance of students in NSW government schools.

Compulsory schooling

Parents or carers of children of compulsory school age are responsible for ensuring their child attends school every day. Children must commence school by age 6 and then complete year 10.

After Year 10 and until they turn 17, students must be:

  • in school or registered for home schooling or
  • in approved education or training (e.g. TAFE, traineeship, apprenticeship) or
  • in full-time, paid employment (average 25 hours/week) or
  • in a combination of work, education and/or training.

Enrolled students 17 years and over are required to attend school regularly to meet Higher School Certificate course requirements.

More information on compulsory school attendance is available below. (Note: these resources do not currently meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements. Please contact Attendance to request alternative copies).

Attendance and absences

Parents of children from Kindergarten to Year 12 must ensure their children attend school every day. On occasion, your child may need to be absent from school. Justified reasons for student absences may include:

  • being sick or having an infectious disease
  • having an unavoidable medical appointment
  • being required to attend a recognised religious holiday
  • exceptional or urgent family circumstances e.g. attending a funeral.

Parents must provide an explanation for absences to the school within 7 days from the first day of any period of absence. Where an explanation has not been received within the 7-day timeframe, the school will record the absence as unexplained on the student's record.


  • Student management and wellbeing

Business Unit:

  • Inclusion and Wellbeing
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