Yes. Under the Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 (SA), schools are required to ensure that enrolled students are attending school or participating in an approved learning program and to maintain the appropriate attendance registers. Schools are also required to maintain the appropriate attendance registers.
Children of compulsory school age (six years and up to the age of sixteen years) residing in South Australia are required to be in full-time attendance at a government or registered non-government school unless exempted by the Minister. Students of Compulsory Education age (between 16 and 17 years) are required to be in attendance at school or a combination of school and other approved training unless exempted by the Minister for Education, Training and Skills or relevant Delegate.
Schools have obligations to follow up the extended absence from school of students under the age of compulsion. There are specific procedures in place for the granting of exemptions.
The Registration of Schools in South Australia – Evidence Guide states that schools are required to monitor the attendance of each student at school and at classes. Schools are required to implement processes to minimise non-attendance and to keep parents or guardians and the education authority informed as required by legislation.
In addition, the Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 (SA) outlines requirements relating to persistent absenteeism. The Act states that it is a requirement for principals of government and non-government schools, and heads of approved learning programs, to notify the Chief Executive of the Department for Education if a child is failing to attend school or participate in an approved learning program, without reasonable excuse, for 10 or more days in a school term.
All school sectors have access to the Department for Education Social Work Truancy Support for issues of truancy. There are a number of expectations on schools to follow up on attendance issues prior to requesting additional social work truancy support. Such steps include, but are not limited to:
- Connecting with the family via phone, letter, email, home visits, and meetings at the school;
- Gathering information to support the student’s re-engagement with school;
- Ensuring mandatory notifications are submitted to the Child Abuse Reporting Line (CARL) as required; and
- Documenting all school interventions.
Schools are required to maintain attendance rolls and enrolment registers or computerised records of the same, with reasons for absences and dates of cessation of enrolment recorded. Adequate hard copy material or an electronic record may be required for inspection by the Education Standards Board when it visits the school as part of the review of registration process. The material should demonstrate that a comprehensive record of absences and attendances is being maintained, both for the current year and to meet legislative requirements for information retention.
The average student attendance rate is one of the student outcomes that schools must publish as part of the School Performance Information reporting requirements stipulated by the Australian Government. Schools are also required under the Australian Education Act 2013 to report student attendance data to the Australian Government through the SchoolsHUB.
Potential consequences of non-compliance of the student exemption process include:
- Loss of registration as a school;
- Breach of the Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 (SA); and/or
- The School may be at risk in the event that an attendance roll is required as evidence in a court of law.
ED171 Non-Govt School Guideline and Request for Social Work Truancy July 2020
Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 (SA)
Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Act 2011 (SA)
Education Standards Board – Standards for registration and review of registration of schools in South Australia
Registration of Schools in South Australia – Evidence Guide
For more information, please contact Dr Bronwyn Donaghey.