3. Attendance criteria
Principals must ensure that all records relating to attendance are retained by the school for all students who are included in census counts. These records (such as manual rolls and absence notes) will be used to verify that students meet the attendance criteria.
Regular attendance after census day will be considered as evidence of continuing enrolment and will be taken into account in any review of decisions regarding the counting of students.
The following attendance criteria apply to both SRP funded and non-SRP funded students. Attendance rolls must be examined to ensure that only students who meet both of the following criteria (A and B below) are included in census counts.
If students do not meet the attendance criteria they must be excluded from the census count, but should remain enrolled in the school.
Students can be excluded from the census by changing the CASES21 enrolment status to ‘inactive’ or by manually excluding. For instructions, see: CASES21 Census Process Guide.
A. Regular attendance during the current year
A principal may determine that a student is eligible to be included in the census count if the student has attended the school regularly prior to census day.
Regular attendance is defined as attendance for at least 80% of the time the student is enrolled at the school in the current year.
Approved absences count as attendance. Students who average more than one day’s unapproved absence per week will be deemed not to have attended regularly.
Approved absences must be supported by appropriate notes, usually from parents or guardians, or other documentary evidence that the school has accepted the explanation for the absences. Absences approved for cases of school refusal or re-engagement must be supported by documentary evidence of the school’s efforts to re-engage the student in the school and encourage regular attendance.
For schools with a staggered program for Prep students, whereby attendance before census day may not meet the criteria for regular attendance, students should be counted at 1.0 FTE unless they are enrolled on an ongoing part-time basis (in which case they are to be counted at their eventual part-time time-fraction).
Students who enrol and first attend a school on census day may be included in that school’s census count provided that the student has not been included in the census return of any other Victorian government or non-government school. As verification of this, the previous school must be contacted and a transfer note obtained. (See Transfers page 4).
B. Census day status
A principal may determine that a student is eligible to be included in the census count if the student is enrolled at the school, meets attendance criteria A and:
- has attended on census day or
- has attended in the current year prior to census day but is absent on census day and the school has documentary evidence that the student is continuing at the school or
- has attended in the current year prior to census day but is absent on census day, and
- has attended regularly for the first 2 full school weeks of term and has accepted a late tertiary or TAFE offer made after that time or
- is attending an Alternative Education Setting (for example, Secondary Teaching Unit or Social Adjustment Centre).
Students who have not attended in the current year up to census day
A student who has not attended in the current year must not be included in census counts, except:
- A student who due to illness has not attended up to census day during the current year can be included in census counts if the school has documentary evidence that the student has been supplied with appropriate work.
- Students who receive support under the Home-Based Educational Support Program (HBESP) can also be included in the census counts only if the school has received a formal email notification from the Wellbeing Health and Engagement Division confirming eligibility for the HBESP in the current year. For further information regarding the HBESP refer to .
All other students who have not attended in the current year must NOT be included in census counts and an ‘inactive’ CASES21 enrolment status should be used.
Students with irregular attendance before census day
Students who have been absent without explanation or for an unapproved reason for more than 20 percent of the time before census day are irregular attendees.
Schools should encourage and support irregular attendees to remain at school and attend regularly. Regional Health, Wellbeing and Engagement staff are able to support schools in following up on student absence and attendance issues. Guidance is available on the DET website to assist schools identify students at risk of disengagement and provide support to help them to remain actively involved in their learning, see: Student engagement.
Students who have attended irregularly in the current year up to census day may be included in the census counts if:
- the student has attended school in the month prior to census day
- the school has documentary evidence that consistent efforts are being made to encourage attendance
- there is evidence that the student is continuing at the school.
This evidence would include up-to-date documentation in a student’s file of:
- correspondence between parents/guardians and the school and records of all phone contact
- strategies used by the school to improve attendance, including referral to the student welfare co-ordinator and records of meetings with the student and parents/guardians
- attendance records after census day
- correspondence between the department regional office and the school
- negotiations with external providers/agencies.
Contact which does not indicate any engagement with the student’s family/carers – or in the case of older students, the student themselves (such as unreturned letters or phone calls) – cannot be considered as documentary evidence to support the counting of the student.
The intention of providing funding for irregular attendees aims to support schools in their sustained efforts to re-engage these students.
The enrolment verification process would expect to find evidence that the school follow-up and documentation to re-engage the student in education did not only occur prior to census day but that it had continued up to the time of verification. If there is no evidence of further attendance, or further follow-up of the student post-census day, then the school will not be eligible for funding for this student.
Evidence must be available on the student file at the time of the enrolment verification.
When a young person re-entering education enrols in a school after the February census date, schools may be able to apply for late enrolment funding. For eligibility criteria and application information refer to (staff login required).
Students returning after census day (late returning students)
Written requests can be made for a re-calculation of the SRP to include students enrolled in the previous year who returned to school between March and the end of the first week of Term 2. These should be forwarded by email by the last school day in May to the Census Hotline.
Schools seeking such adjustments need to provide supporting documentation demonstrating that:
- the student was enrolled at the school in the previous year
- the student has not been included in any Victorian government or non-government school’s February census count
- the student returned to school on or before the end of the first week of Term 2.
A school can request late returning student funding for a student who was due to start Prep if they are the sibling of a student attending the school in the previous year. The school must provide documentation demonstrating that classes were structured to include the Prep student at the beginning of the school year.
Documents to provide with an application for a late returning student
Criteria to demonstrate – the student was enrolled at the school in the previous year
- a copy of the December roll to confirm the student’s attendance in the previous year (for continuing students)
- a copy of the enrolment form confirming enrolment date (for students commencing Prep)
- a copy of class lists showing the late returning Prep student was included in the class structure.
Criteria to demonstrate – the student has not been included in any Victorian government or non-government school’s February census count
- a copy of the final census report ‘Students excluded from the February Census Count’ to confirm student was not claimed for SRP-funding
- a copy of the note from the parents informing the school of the student’s intended absence from the commencement of the school year until after census day for reasons such as an overseas or interstate holiday
- if the absence was not due to a scheduled family holiday, a copy of correspondence or communication with the parent or student before census day clarifying the reason for absence.
Criteria to demonstrate – the student returned to school on or before the end of the first week of Term 2
Documentation required: a copy of the relevant year’s attendance roll confirming student’s return date and ongoing attendance.
Changes to the SRP for students returning after census day will be processed after the enrolments from the mid-year census have been finalised. Where the SRP funded enrolment remains stable or decreases between February and August, no additional funding will be provided. Where the SRP funded enrolment increases between February and August, the SRP will be recalculated to reflect the increase that is attributed to any late returning students.
Students commencing after census day
Students who enrol at the school after census day cannot be included in the census counts.
Contact the Census Hotline in the rare event that a student enrols at a school in the week after census day and if:
- the student has regularly attended and was eligible to be counted in another Victorian government school, and
- both the transferring school and the receiving school agree that the receiving school can count all or part of the FTE for the student
- both schools resubmit their census returns by no later than one week after census day and ensure that the student is counted to a total of no more than 1.0 FTE.
Schools should also contact the Census Hotline if a student meets all the following criteria:
- the student has regularly attended a Victorian government school in the current school year
- the student was not eligible to be counted in any other school’s census count
- the student was absent from school on census day (as part of a short absence from the Victorian government school system such as moving from Warrnambool to Bairnsdale and taking a few days to do so)
- the student made a valid enrolment and commenced attending classes at the school in the week after census day
- student is a continuing student at the school.
The department may agree that counting the student at the school is consistent with the department’s intention to count such students in the census return of the school where they will be a continuing student.
All other students, including students from interstate or overseas, from the non-government sector, or students enrolling in school for the first time, who enrol (first attend classes) at the school after census day cannot be included in census counts.
Late enrolment funding for re-engaging students
When a young person re-entering education enrols in a school after the February census date, schools can apply for late enrolment funding. For eligibility criteria and application information refer to Late enrolment funding (edugate) or contact the youth pathways and transition manager in the DET region.
Reviewed 01 August 2023