Attendance Policy

August 2021


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 have a shared understanding of the importance of attending school
  • explain to school staff and parents the key practices and procedures Maryborough Education Centre (MEC) has in place to
    • support, monitor and maintain student attendance
    • record, monitor and follow up student absences.


This policy applies to all students at MEC.

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 MEC, 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.


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 MEC during normal school hours every day of each term unless:

  • they are on other approved activities
  • 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 MEC, or
  • the student is registered for home schooling and has only a partial enrolment in MEC for particular activities.

Both schools and parents have an important role to play in supporting students to attend school every day.

MEC 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 ready to learn. Our students are encouraged to approach a teacher and seek assistance if there are any issues that are affecting their attendance.

MEC 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 MEC 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

MEC’s Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy supports student attendance.

Our school also promotes student attendance by:

  • providing a breakfast program to students
  • employing a Family Liaison Officer to support student engagement and attendance
  • working with cluster schools on the ‘Every Minute Matters Program’
  • where appropriate, providing personalised programs
  • providing support programs including Alternate Program, Nurture, and Koorie Kids Shine
  • employing Student Wellbeing Officers in each area of the school
  • following up with students and families when student attendance is concerning
  • utilising career resources and MIPS as a support to re-engage students
  • accessing supports provided by the Doctors in Schools Program.

Recording attendance

MEC must record student attendance twice per day for P-6 and Specialist Students. This is necessary to:

  • meet legislative requirements
  • discharge MEC’s duty of care for all students

Attendance will be recorded by teachers at the start of the day, after first and second recess using XUNO.

If students attend a school approved activity, the teacher in charge of the activity or Attendance Officer will record them as being present.

For Year 7-12, MEC must record attendance in every class. This is necessary to:

  • meet legislative requirements
  • discharge MEC’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 lesson/period using XUNO.

If students attend a school approved activity, the teacher in charge of the activity or the Attendance Officer will record them as being present.

Recording absences

For absences where there is no exemption in place, a parent must provide an explanation on each occasion to the school.

Parents should notify MEC of absences by:

  • phoning the absence hotline or SMS the school via XUNO.

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, MEC will notify parents by SMS. MEC will attempt to contact parents as soon as practicable on the same day of the unexplained absence, allowing time for the parent to respond.

MEC 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 MEC considers that the parent has provided a reasonable excuse for their child’s absence the absence will be marked as ‘parent choice school approved’.

If the school determines that no reasonable excuse has been provided, the absence will be marked as ‘parent choice school unauthorised’.

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 if an absence has not been excused.

Managing non-attendance and supporting student engagement

Where absences are recognised of a of concern by the Year Level Coordinator, due to their nature or frequency, or where a student has been absent for more than five days, MEC will work collaboratively with parents, the student, and other professionals, where appropriate, to develop strategies to improve attendance. Looking at attendance data for each year level will be a weekly item on the agenda at Unit and Sub School Meetings to ensure that attendance can be followed up in a timely manner. At MEC a range of strategies will be used in order to improve school attendance including:

  • making regular contact with parents/guardians to check in on the student and their situation
  • establishing an Attendance Student Support Group
  • inviting parents/guardian in for meetings to discuss attendance and supports that can be put in place to help the student’s attendance
  • establishing an Attendance Student Support Group
  • implementing a Return to School Plan
  • implementing a Re-engagement Plan for students who will be absent for an extended period
  • implementing a Remote Learning Plan for students who will be absent for an extended period
  • arranging for assistance from relevant student services officer or Year Level Coordinator.

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 MEC 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 North-West 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:
    • the parent has not provided a reasonable excuse for these absences; and
    • measures to improve the student’s attendance have been undertaken and have been unsuccessful
  • the student’s whereabouts are unknown and:
    • the student has been absent for 10 consecutive school days; or
    • no alternative education destination can be found for the student.

More information and resources



Policy last reviewed 25th August 2021
Consultation 10/08/21 Education Policy Committee
Approved by Anita Ford School Council President
Next scheduled review date This policy was last updated on 25th August 2021 and is scheduled for review as part of the school’s 3-year review cycle.