Shalom College Principal Dan McMahon.
Shalom College Principal Dan McMahon. Sarah Steger

One Bundy school on top of attendance as another slips below

A BUNDABERG high school has taken out the top position for student attendance across Queensland.

Data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, which records attendance rates for students for the first semester, shows Queensland students across Years 1 to 10 attended school less than those in the other major states last year.

But Bundaberg's Shalom College recorded the Queensland's highest attendance rate for schools with more than 1000 pupils, with its eligible students attending approximately 98 per cent of the time.

Pipping a number of Brisbane elite schools to the post.

But it wasn't all good news for the State as Queensland students' overall attendance record has slipped to 91.5 per cent, and now sits below the national average (91.9 per cent).

Bundaberg State High fell below this average with an 87 per cent attendance rate.

In both 2016 and 2017, the state's attendance rate was the third highest in the country, behind Victoria and New South Wales.

At Caboolture State High School students attended an average of just 83 per cent of school days, with less than half of the school's students recording an attendance level of 90 per cent or higher.

Neighbouring region Hervey Bay had one of the lowest attendance rates for a high school.

Hervey Bay High School had more than half of their students miss at least a tenth of classes.

In 2018 Queensland's rate fell behind Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT, and for primary school students only the Northern Territory had a lower attendance rate.



Education Minister Grace Grace.
Education Minister Grace Grace. Contributed

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said the majority of students across the state attended school at least 90 per cent of the time, but there was a range of factors which could keep children from school.

"To put it simply, every day counts (and) attending school every day is vital to ensuring our children get the education they need to get a great start in their lives " Minister Grace said.

"In Queensland, parents have a legal obligation to ensure their child attends school on every school day for the educational program in which the child is enrolled, unless the parent has a reasonable excuse for not doing so.

"Improving student attendance requires communities to work together."

In 2018, boys attended school less often than girls across all year levels in Queensland, with Year 10 male students recording the lowest levels.

For Queensland female students, Year 9 pupils were the most likely to miss school

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said while schools strove to achieve maximum attendance, additional responsibility needed to come from the family home.

"It's a complex area and there often are patterns among students missing school, but young people may also have legitimate issues around attending schools, such as bullying," he said.

"We encourage parents to engage with the process ... there are many legal and moral obligations on schools to deal with students absences.

"It's in the child's best interests."

Mr Bates said student absences not only impacted pupils individually, but also heightened pressures on teachers.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said there were a wide range of resources available for parents, carers and schools, through the Every Day Counts website - an initiative launched to boost attendance.

"The reasons for absences from school can be complex and inter-related," they said.

"School attendance is directly and indirectly linked to a wide range of school, family, home and individual student factors.

"While attendance is ultimately a parent's responsibility, improving student attendance can require students, parents, schools, local communities and services to work together."


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