Department of Education

Behaviour and Wellbeing

Behaviour and Wellbeing

Behaviour and Wellbeing ‹ Student attendance

Student attendance


Attendance requirements

As a parent, you are required by the School Education Act 1999 to ensure your child attends school every day that the school is open for instruction (Section 23).

Principals are responsible for monitoring and accurately recording the attendance of every student enrolled at their school in accordance with Section 28 of the School Education Act 1999.

If a student is absent, a responsible person, usually the parent, must notify the principal of the reason for the student’s absence as soon as practical.  If a student is prevented from attending school due to illness, the principal is authorised by the School Education Act 1999 to request a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner.

Lesson attendance codes are used by all Western Australian public schools to record the reason for every half-day absence.  The use of these codes is determined by the principal.  Accurate record-keeping ensures principals can identify patterns of absence at both a school and individual student level and implement appropriate measures to restore attendance where there is cause for concern.

Absences are grouped as either 'authorised' or 'unauthorised' according to whether they meet the requirements of excusing a student from attendance pursuant to Section 25 of the School Education Act 1999.   The total half-day absences are displayed on your child's school report each semester.


SMS in schools

Many schools use SMS messages to communicate with parents about their child’s absences.  If your child’s school uses SMS you will automatically receive an SMS advising you of any absence and you will be prompted to provide a reason to the school about why your child is away.

To assist schools to maintain accurate records, please respond as requested in the message.

Schools may also use the software to broadcast additional messages to parents. This function may be used to communicate events such as a school closure, forthcoming school events, or to notify parents of an emergency such as a bushfire.


Standardised leave passes

It is the responsibility of schools to ensure all students who leave the school grounds during the normal school day without an authorised person are issued with a leave pass.

Standardised leave passes enable students who are off the school site for a legitimate reason or are participating in an educational activity, but who are not under the direct supervision of a teacher, to demonstrate they have the appropriate permission to be away from the school.

The standardised leave pass provides a recognisable way to assist badged attendance officers, police and transport officers and local businesses to verify if a student’s absence from school is authorised.


Alternative attendance arrangements

A principal may agree for a student enrolled at their school to temporarily attend elsewhere.  Examples may include:

  • Temporary attendance at another WA public school
  • Participation in a course of study through the Schools of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) or Schools of Special Education Needs: Medical and Mental Health (SSEN: MMH)
  • An apprenticeship, traineeship or community based course
  • Public or private registered training organisation

These arrangements must be formalised in accordance with relevant sections of the School Education Act 1999 which may require permission to be given by the school principal, or in some cases, the Regional Executive Director.

Parents should contact the principal of their child’s current enrolled school for advice on alternative attendance arrangements.

The Guide to Educational Programs Other than Fulltime Attendance at School flowchart provides schools, students and parents with guidance on the eligibility criteria and processes of an Alternative Attendance Arrangement (Section 24), Notice of Arrangements (for years 11 and 12) and Exemption from enrolment.

Parents and students can visit the Participation website for information on the approval process for Notice of Arrangements and Exemptions.


Restoring attendance

When a student’s absences are identified as a concern, schools will work collaboratively with students and parents to develop and implement strategies for improved attendance.

This will usually include the principal, teacher or other relevant staff meeting with the student and parents to:

  • Investigate the reasons for the absences
  • Identify issues concerning the absences
  • Develop strategies to improve attendance.

Several meetings or phone calls may be required in order to review and amend strategies to restore attendance.

A principal may seek to draw on the advice and expertise of external services, agencies or community members to assist in developing strategies, or to facilitate additional support for the student or their parents.

In some cases, the principal may offer parents an Attendance Advisory Panel or a Responsible Parenting Agreement.

Responsible Parenting Agreements (RPAs)

The Department of Education works collaboratively with other agencies, such as the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and the Department of Corrective Services to develop RPAs with parents, in accordance with the Parental Support and Responsibility Act 2008.

A RPA documents strategies developed in collaboration with parents, school staff and interagency representatives.  A RPA outlines the agreed obligations of all parties in restoring a student’s attendance or improving their behaviour.

The plan may include:

  • helping parents to access a parenting service or undertaking tasks to build on parenting skills
  • parent support counselling

The plan will contain agreed actions and time frames in a written formal agreement.  When the parent and the Department’s officer sign this, it commits both to meet the terms of the plan.  An agreement can last up to 12 months and will be reviewed regularly.

Attendance Advisory Panels (AAPs)

Referring a case to an Attendance Advisory Panel (AAP) is one of the legislative strategies available to schools seeking to restore a student’s attendance.

An AAP is a group of people brought together under Section 39 of the School Education Act 1999, to provide advice and assistance to families where a student is persistently absent from school.

Convening an AAP provides an opportunity for a group community members, who are independent of the school, to bring a new perspective to the case, inquire into the underlying reasons for a student’s absence and provide advice and assistance to the family to restore attendance.  Advice will be of a practical nature, and may also include referral to external agencies or services that will provide the parent(s) and student with assistance.

An AAP is not necessarily a ‘last resort’ strategy.  The principal may determine that utilising a panel of community members may assist in restoring a student’s attendance early in the case-management process.

Panel Membership

If you wish to be a voluntary panellist for an AAP, please complete the Application for Panel Membership and provide to your local Education Regional Office.  Panel Members may also nominate to sit on School Discipline Advisory Panels and Disability Advisory Panels when completing this form.

Student attendance
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