The purpose of this policy is to
· ensure all children of compulsory school age are enrolled in a registered school and attend school every day the school is open for instruction
· ensure students, staff and parents/carers have a shared understanding of the importance of attending school
· explain to school staff and parents the key practices and procedures Somerville Secondary College has in place to
o support, monitor and maintain student attendance
o record, monitor and follow up student absences.
This policy applies to all students at Somerville Secondary College.
This policy should be read in conjunction with the Department of Education and Training’s School Attendance Guidelines. It does not replace or change the obligations of Somerville Secondary College, parents and School Attendance Officers under legislation or the School Attendance Guidelines.
Parent – includes a guardian and every person who has parental responsibility for the child, including parental responsibility under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and any person with whom a child normally or regularly resides.
Independent Student – includes a student who is legally no longer living under the care of a parent or guardian.
Schooling is compulsory for children and young people aged from 6 to 17 years (unless an exemption from attendance or enrolment has been granted).
Daily attendance is important for all children and young people to succeed in education and to ensure they do not fall behind both socially and developmentally. School participation maximises life opportunities for children and young people by providing them with education and support networks. School helps people to develop important skills, knowledge and values that set them up for further learning and participation in their community.
Students are expected to attend Somerville Secondary College during normal school hours every day of each term unless:
· there is an approved exemption from school attendance for the student
· the student has a dual enrolment with another school and has only a partial enrolment in Somerville Secondary College, or
· the student is registered for home schooling and has only a partial enrolment in Somerville Secondary College for particular activities.
Both schools and parents have an important role to play in supporting students to attend school every day.
Somerville Secondary College believes all students should attend school all day, every day when the school is open for instruction and is committed to working with its school community to encourage and support full school attendance.
Our school will identify individual students or cohorts who are vulnerable and whose attendance is at risk and/or declining and will work with these students and their parents to improve their attendance through a range of interventions and supports.
Students are committed to attending school every day, arriving on time and are prepared to learn. Our students are encouraged approach a teacher and seek assistance if there are any issues that are affecting their attendance.
Somerville Secondary College parents are committed to ensuring their child/children attend school on time every day when instruction is offered, to communicating openly with the school and providing valid explanations for any absence.
Parents will communicate with the relevant staff at Somerville Secondary College about any issues affecting their child’s attendance and work in partnership with the school to address any concerns.
Parents will provide a reasonable explanation for their child’s absence from school and endeavour to schedule family holidays, appointments and other activities outside of school hours.
Supporting and promoting attendance
Somerville Secondary College’s Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy supports student attendance.
Our school also promotes student attendance by:
· offering a breakfast club
· celebrating exemplary attendance at assemblies
· using the college newsletter to promote the importance of attendance
· the establishment of an Attendance Team
Somerville Secondary College must record attendance in every class. This is necessary to:
· meet legislative requirements
· discharge Somerville Secondary College’s duty of care for all students
· meet Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority requirements for VCE students
Attendance will be recorded by the classroom teacher at the start of each period using Compass.
If students are in attendance at a school approved activity, the teacher in charge of the activity will record them as being present.
For absences where there is no exemption in place, a parent must provide an explanation on each occasion to the school.
Parents should notify Somerville Secondary College of absences by:
· Phone the student absence line on: 5973 1098
· Log on via the compass parent portal and submit your child’s absence/reason by 9am
· FlexiBuzz - Lodge your child’s absence via this app on your mobile phone www.flexibuzz.com
If a student is absent on a particular day and the school has not been previously notified by a parent, or the absence is otherwise unexplained, Somerville Secondary College will notify parents by SMS.
Somerville Secondary College will attempt to contact parents as soon as practicable on the same day of the unexplained absence, allowing time for the parent to respond.
If contact cannot be made with the parent (due to incorrect contact details), the school will attempt to make contact with any emergency contact/s nominated on the student's file held by the school, where possible, on the day of the unexplained absence.
Somerville Secondary College will keep a record of the reason given for each absence. The principal will determine if the explanation provided is a reasonable excuse for the purposes of the parent meeting their responsibilities under the Education Training Reform Act 2006 and the School Attendance Guidelines.
If Somerville Secondary College considers that the parent has provided a reasonable excuse for their child’s absence the absence will be marked as ‘excused absence’.
If the school determines that no reasonable excuse has been provided, the absence will be marked as ‘unexcused absence’.
The Principal has the discretion to accept a reason given by a parent for a student’s absence. The Principal will generally excuse:
· medical and dental appointments, where out of hours appointments are not possible or appropriate
· bereavement or attendance at the funeral of a relative or friend of the student, including a student required to attend Sorry Business
· school refusal, if a plan is in place with the parent to address causes and support the student’s return to school
· cultural observance if the parent/carer notifies the school in advance
· family holidays where the parent notifies the school in advance
If no explanation is provided by the parent within 10 school days of an absence, it will be recorded as an ‘unexplained absence’ and recorded on the student’s file.
Parents will be notified via telephone or written means if an absence has not been excused.
It is important to note that students who are classed as ‘independent’ are also required to provide medical notes and explanations for absence.
Managing non-attendance and supporting student engagement
Where absences are of concern due to their nature or frequency, or where a student has been absent for more than five days, Somerville Secondary College will work collaboratively with parents, the student, and other professionals, where appropriate, to develop strategies to improve attendance, including:
· establishing an Attendance Student Support Group
· implementing a Return to School Plan
· implementing an Individual Education Plan
· implementing a Student Absence Learning Plan for students who will be absent for an extended period (including family holidays if necessary)
· arranging for assistance from relevant Student Coordinators, student wellbeing staff and Pathways Practitioners.
We understand from time to time that some students will need additional supports and assistance, and in collaboration with the student and their family, will endeavour to provide this support when it is required,
Referral to School Attendance Officer
If Somerville Secondary College decides that it has exhausted strategies for addressing a student’s unsatisfactory attendance, we may, in accordance with the School Attendance Guidelines refer the non-attendance to a School Attendance Officer in the South Eastern Regional Office for further action.
If, from multiple attempts to contact with a parent, it becomes apparent that a student will not be returning to the school, the principal may make a referral to a School Attendance Officer if:
· the student has been absent from school on at least five full days in the previous 12 months where:
o the parent has not provided a reasonable excuse for these absences; and
o measures to improve the student's attendance have been undertaken and have been unsuccessful
· the student’s whereabouts are unknown and:
o the student has been absent for 10 consecutive school days; or
o no alternative education destination can be found for the student.
More information and resources
· School Policy and Advisory Guide: Attendance
Review cycle and evaluation
This policy will be reviewed every three years or as required should changes arise in regulation or if circumstances change.