School operations


4 Understanding factors that impact on student attendance

Principals, teachers and other school based staff may use a variety of measures to deal with absences. There may be times when a type of intervention will exacerbate a student's or family's circumstances or is at odds with the support needed, so understanding the cause of a student's absences is critical to understanding the appropriate intervention, or appropriate series of interventions.

There are many factors that can influence a student's attendance and engagement. Chronic absences are commonly a sign of stress factors either in a student's life outside school, and/or in the immediate learning environment.

For advice on the many supports available to schools to support students who may be experiencing issues both within and outside the school environment, see Chapter 7 Attendance improvement strategies in this Guidance tab.

Principals and teachers are best placed to recognise attendance patterns that may be an indication of other stress factors. However, this can be a challenge in a classroom and school environment where students have diverse educational, emotional and social capabilities.

Early warning signs of disengagement include frequent lateness, leaving school early, missing lessons, siblings with poor attendance, unresolved issues with staff or other students, difficulties at times of transition, social or emotional issues and chronic health issues of the student and / or their family members. Responding quickly to work in partnership with students and families is the most effective way to manage non-attendance so that patterns do not become entrenched.

Schools should ensure they address and celebrate cultural diversity within their school community when developing their attendance promotion, recording, monitoring and follow-up procedures.

Special consideration may need to be given to procedures for students and families from particular backgrounds or with particular living circumstances including:

While cultural and other circumstances of students and families should be acknowledged and sensitively considered, they should not compromise the expectations for the student's full attendance at school.

Chapter 4 of the Attendance Guidelines on the factors that might impact student attendance

Reviewed 15 February 2024

Was this page helpful?