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.
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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org using subject line, ‘Re: Compulsory School Attendance – Webpage’.
Alignment to system priorities and/or needs: The Department of Education committed, under the Strategic Plan 2018-2022, to increase the “proportion of students attending school at least 90% of the time”.
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 2022.
To be reviewed: July 2023.
The School Attendance Policy sets out the requirements for the attendance of students in NSW government schools.
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).
- Compulsory school attendance - information for parents
- Compulsory school attendance - information for schools
- Compulsory school attendance - information for government and non-government agencies
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 unjustified on the student's record.