Department of Education

Behaviour and Wellbeing

Behaviour and Wellbeing

Behaviour and Wellbeing ‹ Student attendance

Student attendance

Attendance Data and Recording

Schools must record daily attendance for all enrolled students in accordance with the School Education Act (1999) (Section 28).

Accurate record-keeping of attendance is vital in satisfying duty of care requirements and in generating useful attendance data.

Daily attendance records are maintained in Student Information System (SIS) Administration using codes in the Lesson Attendance module. These codes enable data to be generated to inform local-level planning and monitoring of whole-school and individual student attendance strategies. Lesson attendance quick reference guides are available on the STIMS website that include:

  • Guidelines for lesson attendance codes
  • Lesson attendance code descriptions
  • Lesson attendance guide for primary schools
  • Lesson attendance guide for secondary schools.

In addition to reports available in SIS, a number of central databases, that extract data from SIS, provide schools with several options to analyse their attendance data.                                   

The Student Attendance Reporting (SAR) application reports attendance rates and absence types, attendance profiles, year group breakdowns and authorised and unauthorised absences.

The Student Achievement Information System (SAIS) provides a graphic application that can assist schools in analysing student achievement in relation to attendance.

The Department also utilises data collected through SAR for the purpose of regional and system-level planning for attendance and for reporting to State and Commonwealth governments.

For further information regarding student attendance data and reporting refer to School and Student Performance Data on the Evaluation and Accountability website.

Lesson Attendance Codes

There are 16 codes in the School Information System (SIS) Lesson Attendance module. These notes are provided to assist schools to accurately record student attendance and absences.

Code explanations for:

Students who are attending

Students who are late

Authorised Absences

Unauthorised Absences

Students not required to attend


Codes for students attending on or off site  
- Present code, this is the default setting in Lesson Attendance.

E - Educational Activity
This code should be used when the student is participating in an approved educational program off school site, such as a Section 24, Alternative Attendance Arrangement, an excursion, work placement or programs such as PEAC. This code is not classified as an absence. This code is not to be used for students on the Participation List.

M - Medical or Sick Bay
The M code should be applied to students when they are on school grounds in the medical or sick bay. This code is not classified as an absence. Sick students that are not at school should be marked with an N – Notified as Sick.

W - Withdrawn
Where a student is withdrawn from school activities as a planned response to a breach of school discipline but is present at school. For example, when a student is sent to the office or a buddy class but is still at school. This code is not classified as an absence.

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Codes for students who are late
- Late
To be used when a student is late to school but is not late enough to be recorded as a half day absence. This code is not classified as an absence. NB: A student is absent if they have attended less than two full hours of continuous instruction.

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Codes for Authorised Absences
R - Reasonable Cause
This code should be used when the principal has deemed the reason provided as acceptable other than an absence due to suspension, cultural absence, illness or family holiday (See code options below).

C - Cultural Absence
Absences authorised for cultural or religious significance to the family such as funerals, sorry time and religious observances. The principal should negotiate the duration of this absence prior to it being taken. If the absence extends beyond the number of agreed days, and no acceptable reason is provided, the additional absences should be recorded with an X (Unacceptable Reason).

N - Notified as Sick
Applied to a student whose reason for absence is due to illness. The principal may request a medical certificate.

V - Vacation
This code may be used when the absence has been negotiated in advance and the principal is satisfied that reasonable grounds for authorising the absence apply. Completion of a work package during the period of absence may be requested by the principal.

Z - Suspended
This code is automatically recorded in Lesson Attendance by the Behaviour Module when a student is formally suspended. Schools do not have to record attendance for students when they are on suspension. This code is classified as an authorised absence.

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Codes for Unauthorised Absences
U - Absence – cause not yet established
To be used when a student is initially absent from school and no explanation has yet been provided. Further follow up is required to establish a reason for the absence and once obtained, the code should be changed accordingly.

K - Unauthorised Vacation
This code identifies students whose parents have taken them on an in-term holiday and the principal has not authorised the absence. A template letter, to notify parents of a decision not to approve an in-term vacation, is available online in Microsoft Word and SIS KST format on the STIMS website.

X - Unacceptable Reason
This code is used when the school has sought an explanation but the response from the parent is not considered reasonable, and the principal does not believe it satisfies the requirements of Section 25 of the School Education Act 1999.

T - Truant
This is be used for a student that is absent from school and an investigation has revealed that the student has truanted. This will usually require a teacher or parent witnessing the student leaving the school grounds or educational program without permission.

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Codes for students not required to attend

Y – School Closure
This code indicates that students are not required to attend on the selected day and effectively reduces the number of half days available for that student. The Y code can be applied to the whole school or a cohort of students. Schools can use this code for critical events, natural disasters, infectious diseases or amending programs. It can be applied to AM, PM or the whole day for a selected date.
Note: This code is applied through the school diary and Lesson Attendance > Parameters > Enforced School Closure.

Q - Study Leave Year 11 and 12 only
Year 11 and 12 students who are on study leave, and are not on school site, are to be recorded with this code. This will not be counted as an absence and does not contribute to available half days.

This code is not to be used for students in Kindergarten to Year 10 or students on the Participation List.

Inappropriate use of code Q from Semester 1, 2019 will incur a red (i.e. must be fixed) conflict in Student Attendance Reporting (SAR).

Note: From the beginning of 2019, the Student Attendance Reporting (SAR) application has been updated to correctly remove half days with Q code from available half days. Due to programming limitations, SIS cannot be upgraded and will incorrectly count each Q code as an available half day, with the student counted as present.  This error will artificially inflate attendance rates in SIS.  Principals are advised to refer to the SAR totals as the official record of attendance. 

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Lesson Attendance Code Scenarios

These notes are provided to assist schools to accurately record student attendance and absences.

In Term Holidays

Scenario A: Negotiated absence

A student is on an in term holiday with their family. The parents notified the principal of the length of the holiday and that the student would return in one week.

The principal does not authorise this absence and marks the student with the K (Unauthorised Vacation) code for the week of the holiday.


Where the absence is negotiated in advance, the principal may decide, in exceptional circumstances, to authorise the absence, on the provision that a work package is completed during the absence. In this case, the absence is recorded with a V (Authorised Vacation).

Scenario B: Not returning from holiday

If at the end of a holiday a student does not return on the date previously advised, the principal should mark the student with a U (Absence – cause not yet established). When an explanation for the extended absence is provided by the parent the principal should amend the records to reflect the reason for absence.

Scenario C: Extended holiday

Where a student has returned from an in term holiday and the length of the holiday extended beyond the negotiated period, the principal may mark the additional absences with a K (Unauthorised Vacation).

Scenario D: Non contactable

If at the end of an in term holiday the student does not return to school, and the principal is unable to contact the family, the absences should be marked with a U (Absence – cause not yet established). The principal should continue to attempt contact with the family. If after 15 school days the parents cannot be contacted or located, the school should submit a request to place the student of the Students Whose Whereabouts are Unknown list.


Students that are not required to attend

Scenario A: Exams

Year 11 or Year 12 students have an exam during periods 3 and 4 and are not required to attend the preceding two periods or those following the exam. The principal should record the students as present (/) for the two periods that the students attend the exam. For the periods outside of the exam timetable, the principal may apply the Q (Not required to attend) code.  This code is not to be applied to any student in Kindergarten to Year 10.

Scenario B: School Closure

It is necessary to close whole, or part of the school, due to a critical event that has occurred such as a fire in a classroom or a natural disaster. Parents have been advised not to send their child to school due to the hazard on site. The principal may apply the Y (Enforced School closure) code through the school diary (and Lesson Attendance>Parameters>Enforced School Closure) for all classes/cohorts affected by the closure. See the SIS Fact Sheet for further support.


A student has been excluded

Secondary schools should create a new timetable subject in SIS called Exclusion and place the student in that subject.
Primary schools should create a new form called Exclusion and the place the student in that form.

Once the student is placed in the new subject/form group, the Y code may be applied through the school diary for this form. This procedure will enable the student to be retained on the roll until the school is advised that the student has been placed in an alternative educational program and will not affect the school’s attendance data since Y means not required to attend.

Participation students

A student has indicated that they will not be attending school as they have been offered a traineeship/apprenticeship. Until the school is notified by the Engagement and Transition Manager that a Notice of Arrangements (NoA) is pending for the student, the student must remain on the Current Roll and be marked with an X.

When the school is advised by the Engagement and Transition Manager (ETM) that a NoA is pending the student’s attendance status should be changed to Participation List and absences marked with an R.

Upon notification from the Participation Unit that the student is participating in an approved option, and a NoA has been approved, the student may be moved to the Former Roll.

Modified Kindergarten programs

The school has elected to run a two week Kindergarten attendance cycle. This pattern may involve students attending two days in week one and three days in week two. To ensure the correct days are displayed in the Lesson Attendance module, apply the Y (Enforced School Closure) code to the day on which the students are not required to attend. This is accomplished through the school diary (and Lesson Attendance> Parameters> Enforced School Closure) for each group affected. See the SIS Fact Sheet for further support.

Students in a Department of Corrective Services facility

A school has been notified by a parent that their child is in remand or detention. The school may mark the student’s absences with the R code for the duration of their stay in the custodial facility.  At the end of the school term if the student is still in a custodial facility then the school may retrospectively change these absences to an E. Compulsory-aged students in a custodial facility attend an onsite educational program 365 days a year. The school may request that the parent provide documentary evidence of length of sentence.  Schools are advised to liaise with their Education Regional Office and/or their local Juvenile Justice team to ensure appropriate planning and accurate attendance data is recorded.

Student attendance

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