2 Frm the Minister Regular attendance at schls is fundamental t student learning. On average public schl students in Western Australia attend schl 91 per cent f the time. This means that, while the majrity f children attend schl regularly, it is als the case that many students attend schl less than 90 per cent f the time. While the majrity f children wh miss schl d s fr legitimate reasns, such as illness, it is als cncerning that 36 per cent f absences are unexplained. Irregular attendance cmes at a real cst t each student s educatin and seriusly jepardises their future pprtunities. Fr sme cmmunities, there is als a significant cst in terms f anti-scial behaviur. Parents wh make regular attendance a pririty are als helping their children t value learning and t accept respnsibility. These are imprtant lessns fr life. Attendance patterns and attitudes t schl and learning are frmed early. Children wh develp gd attendance habits in the early years are mre likely t maintain them thrughut their schl years. This is vitally imprtant because students wh d nt attend regularly miss ut n carefully planned sequences f instructin and n active learning experiences and class participatin. As students learn t read and acquire basic numeracy skills, it is imprtant they attend schl regularly s they can practise these skills each day. In many severe cases, pr attendance cannt be slved by schls alne. Nt ging t schl is ften symptmatic f ther cmplex prblems in children s lives; n single slutin will wrk fr all schls r all students. Better attendance: Brighter futures aims t imprve attendance f students in public schls by prviding direct supprt t thse students in greatest need. This new apprach is based n the mutual bligatin f schls, parents and cmmunities t develp strategies that link directly t the lcal causes f pr attendance. The Department f Educatin will imprve the quality f data s that schls and cmmunities have greater detail and mre timely infrmatin abut the nature and extent f their attendance issues. Attendance targets will be set and rigrusly mnitred. Strnger accuntability fr attendance will be required at all levels. Schls, families and cmmunities must wrk tgether t prtect ur children and yung peple frm the tragic cnsequences f pr schl attendance. Dr Elizabeth Cnstable MLA Minister fr Educatin
3 Frm the Directr General Better attendance: Brighter futures reflects my cmmitment in Classrm First t ensure every student in every public schl is successful. By attending schl each day students have a much greater likelihd f actively engaging in the curriculum and develping the knwledge and skills they need fr future persnal and career success. The majrity f students in ur schls attend schl regularly which is highly cmmendable. Hwever it is unacceptable that nearly 30 per cent f students miss at least half a day f schl each week. Unfrtunately, nce students develp a pattern f nn attendance, staying away frm schl can ften seem easier than attending. Sme f the many reasns why students dn t attend schl include: illness and health issues negative schl experiences as a result f learning difficulties family issues r lack f parental supprt scial and emtinal difficulties with peers including bullying and harassment. Of particular cncern are the many Abriginal students wh struggle t attend schl regularly. In 2009 attendance f Abriginal students was nearly 16 per cent lwer than nn-abriginal students. This gap must and will be reduced. Greater cllabratin acrss the Department and external agencies is an integral part f Better attendance: Brighter futures t help schls and cmmunities imprve attendance, engagement and success f all Abriginal students in ur schls. Student attendance must nt be cnsidered in islatin. Schls and teachers play an imprtant rle in encuraging attendance by creating welcming and inclusive learning envirnments that engage students. Schl psychlgists and student services staff als play imprtant rles in assisting teachers t develp apprpriate strategies and by wrking with individual students t imprve attendance. As we implement Better attendance: Brighter futures I am cnfident we will achieve the imprvements we need t ensure every student has the pprtunity t succeed. Sharyn O Neill Directr General
4 Intrductin The causes f pr attendance at schl are cmplex and demand a diverse range f slutins. Better attendance: Brighter futures prmtes the mutual respnsibility f schls, parents and cmmunities t address pr student attendance. A whle cmmunity apprach, including lcal gvernment, businesses and ther agencies, is mre likely t imprve the attendance f individual students while achieving brader benefits fr the cmmunity. Evidencebased initiatives will supprt these appraches and resurces will be prvided that target the cmplex factrs cntributing t pr attendance. Schls have a great impact n student attendance. They are respnsible fr: prmting t parents the imprtance f their children nt missing schl building strng relatinships ensuring the curriculum is accessible fr all students prviding safe and welcming learning envirnments. Schls must mnitr each student s attendance and intervene early when nn-attendance shws signs f being prblematic. Supprt will be prvided t schls t identify pr attendance early, initiate respnses, and review and reprt n their effectiveness. Differential resurcing will give schls r clusters f schls the flexibility t apply lcal slutins t their specific cntexts. Funding will be based n attendance data. Cnsideratin will als be given t cntributing influences f Sci Ecnmic Index (SEI), lcatin and cultural backgrund. Key target grups are: Abriginal students truants students frm Kindergarten t Year 4 students mving frm Year 7 t Year 8 Year 10 students Year 11 and 12 students nt engaged in educatin, training r emplyment. Aligning with Classrm First, Better attendance: Brighter futures increases the flexibility f schls t tailr slutins t their lcal cntext. Better attendance: Brighter futures includes the fllwing key strategies t imprve student attendance in public schls: 1 ensuring all children are enrlled in schl 2 giving direct supprt t schls and cmmunities with the greatest need 3 ensuring strng supprt and actin in the early years and at transitin pints 4 recgnising initiatives that encurage student attendance and parent participatin 5 ntifying schls early where nn-attendance is a serius issue 6 supprting parents t take respnsibility fr their child s attendance at schl 7 establishing partnerships with lcal businesses and agencies t imprve attendance 8 prviding prfessinal learning fr schl staff and cmmunity members n hw t address pr attendance 9 making regular attendance a pririty acrss the Department.
5 What the data indicates N cnsistent imprvement has ccurred in the attendance f Western Australian public schl students ver the past five years. Attendance data (2009) indicates that students attend n average 91 per cent f the time; by cmparisn, the perfrmance f ther states ranges frm 83 per cent t 95 per cent. Apprximately Western Australian public schl students attend schl irregularly (that is, fr less than 90 per cent f the time) with f these students attending less than 60 per cent f the time. Of these students, 66 per cent are in Perth, 25 per cent in rural areas and nine per cent in remte areas. Attendance decreases significantly when students enter Year 8. By Year 10 nly 53 per cent f students attend regularly. The lwest rate f attendance in primary schl is in Year 1. Despite cncerted effrts, there has been n imprvement in Abriginal student attendance ver the last five years nr has there been a reductin in the 15.9 per cent gap between Abriginal and nn-abriginal student attendance rates. Tw thirds f Abriginal students attend less than 90 per cent f the time. Key perfrmance indicatrs Imprving attendance is a majr pririty fr the Department, with increased fcus n each schl s effectiveness in mnitring, intervening, reviewing and reprting in this area. Attendance will frm an integral part f schl perfrmance and reviews. The success f this strategy will be demnstrated thrugh: measurable imprvement in student attendance in schls and fr key at risk grups imprvement in the attitudes f parents f children wh d nt attend schl regularly effectiveness f lcal cmmunity/business partnerships in addressing nn-attendance.
6 Strategies t imprve attendance 1. Ensuring all children are enrlled in schl There is currently n mechanism t detect children f cmpulsry schl age wh have never enrlled in an educatin prgram. A natinal analysis f nn-enrlment and nn-attendance data (DEEWR, 2009) fund that, f the estimated students between the ages f six and 14 years nt enrlled natinally, apprximately 900 were frm Western Australia. Only children wh are enrlled in a schl r educatin prgram can be tracked by the Department nce they stp attending. All children wh are nt enrlled in an educatin prgram will be identified thrugh data matching between the Department and ther relevant agencies including Centrelink, Medicare, Office f the Attrney General and/r Department f Health. Parents will be made aware f the imprtance f enrlment and attendance thrugh a Statewide cmmunicatins strategy. This will include a range f materials fr schls, parents and cmmunities. An Abriginal perspective will be built int the cmmunicatins strategy and there will be scpe fr cmmunities t tailr cmmunicatins t lcal needs. The student tracking system implemented in partnership with the Assciatin f Independent Schls f WA and Cathlic Educatin Office f WA will be imprved t reduce the number f students whse whereabuts are unknwn. Prsecutin f parents fr nn-enrlment f their children under the Schl Educatin Act 1999 will be streamlined t allw the Department t take rapid actin where parents have been prvided with supprt but have refused t enrl a child in their care in schl. Supprting prgram Students will be tracked acrss the brders f Western Australia, Suth Australia and the Nrthern Territry thrugh the Tri-brder Attendance Initiative. This will enable infrmatin t be shared and will engage agencies t supprt attendance and enrlment, particularly thse f transient Abriginal students. 2. Giving direct supprt t schls and cmmunities with the greatest need In respnding t pr attendance, each schl and cmmunity must tailr respnses t their particular circumstances. T d this, resurces will be prvided directly t thse schls with the mst serius nnattendance issues. Each year schls and cmmunities r clusters f schls with the mst serius nn-attendance prblems will be identified using the annual attendance audit data including attendance rate and percentage f students in each at risk categry disaggregated by Abriginality. They will be supprted t establish a cmmittee t participate in an Attendance Imprvement Measure (AIM) t prfile student attendance, and plan and implement imprvement strategies fr the whle schl. Supprt will include prfiling tls, strategic planning materials, training, funding and practical advice. The Attendance Imprvement Measure (AIM) will have five elements: 1. Ntifying: Schls/clusters will be ntified that they have been identified as AIM schls and encuraged t establish an AIM cmmittees f lcal stakehlders t versee the develpment and implementatin f an imprvement plans. The AIM cmmittees may include representatives frm the schl cuncils and the Parents and Citizens (P&C) assciatin. 2. Prfiling: Schls r clusters will develp a detailed prfile f student attendance in their cmmunity including research int the reasns fr nn-attendance. This will be presented t the AIM cmmittees. 3. Planning: Schl staff will be supprted t develp culturally apprpriate attendance imprvement plans. Where necessary, cultural cmpetency training will be delivered by Abriginal educatin teams. Schls will wrk with AIM cmmittees t develp respnses and attendance planning will be incrprated int schl imprvement plans and recnciliatin actin plans. The prcess is designed t imprve student engagement and may include appintment f schl based attendance fficers, public infrmatin strategies, jint agency truancy sweeps, cmmunity agreements and incentive prgrams. Each attendance plan will be specific t lcal cntext and need. 4. Resurcing: Funding will be distributed directly t identified schls r clusters t supprt the develpment and implementatin f attendance plans. 5. Reviewing: Each schl and cmmunity will be required t evaluate and develp a written reprt n the utcmes f their attendance plan. This reprt will be available t the lcal cmmunity.
7 3. Ensuring strng supprt and actin in the early years and at transitin pints Regular attendance patterns established at a yung age are mre likely t result in regular attendance thrughut the schl years and prevent students frm experiencing gaps in their learning. Schls will take significant actin in the early years t establish such patterns. All families will receive infrmatin t supprt attendance when they enrl in Kindergarten, Pre-primary and Year 1, r when enrlling in a new schl. This infrmatin will prmte the imprtance f attendance, give parents simple strategies t supprt regular attendance and utline their bligatins in relatin t attendance. Schls will wrk with P&C Assciatins, schl cuncils and schl/cmmunity partnership grups t develp culturally apprpriate and relevant infrmatin custmised t meet the individual schl cntext. Families will be prvided with infrmatin t supprt attendance at transitin pints and fr newly enrlled students. Supprting prgram Universal Access under the Natinal Partnership Agreement n Early Childhd Educatin prvides all children with access t enrl and attend their lcal Kindergarten and Pre-primary schl frm Expanded Kindergarten frm 11 t 15 hurs a week will als be rlled ut ver the next three years. Children frm Abriginal, disadvantaged and/r culturally and linguistically diverse families will be supprted and encuraged t enrl their children. 4. Recgnising initiatives that encurage student attendance and parent participatin Attendance imprves when parents and schls wrk tgether. Initiatives that recgnise lcal cmmunities and schls wrking tgether and that encurage parent supprt will have a direct impact n student attendance. Schls will be supprted t implement recgnitin prgrams t imprve student attendance. The Department will wrk with schls implementing attendance incentive prgrams such as Passprts t mnitr and assess their effectiveness and braden the applicatin f successful prgrams. The Department will supprt schls t implement prgrams which encurage and recgnise parent participatin and invlvement in schl cmmunities. Attendance Imprvement Measure (AIM) schls implementing breakfast and lunch prgrams will be supprted thrugh agencies such as Fdbank. Significant achievement r imprvement in attendance will be acknwledged. Successful schl attendance practice will be recgnised, shwcased and prmted t ther schls, parents and the brader cmmunity t acknwledge the achievements f schls. This may include acknwledging best practice acrss a range f areas such as imprved attendance rates f Abriginal students and significant imprvement and engagement f students identified as severely at risk.
8 5. Ntifying schls early where nn-attendance is a serius issue Early identificatin f emerging nn-attendance trends is critical t successful interventin. This prevents pr attendance frm develping int patterns f sustained nn-attendance. All schls will be ntified immediately thrugh the Schl Infrmatin System (SIS) f nn-attendance patterns that are reaching critical levels. This will ccur in tw ways: Establishing a nn-attendance alert prcess: The SIS lessn attendance mdule add-n Watchlists will issue stakehlders with an alert, when a pre-determined number f half day absences has been reached. This will give an immediate indicatin t staff that an individual student r a chrt is at risk and may require supprt. Expanding the SMS cmmunicatin tl: This will be expanded t mre schls likely t benefit frm the instantaneus ntificatin t parents f unauthrised absences. The student attendance audit, which is cnducted twice a year (ne vluntary audit and ne mandatry audit) and prvides detailed cmparative data t schls, clusters and system-wide, will be further imprved t give schls and clusters greater access t attendance infrmatin that supprts effective planning and apprpriate allcatin f resurces. 6. Supprting parents t take respnsibility fr their child s attendance at schl Under the Schl Educatin Act 1999 parents have primary respnsibility fr ensuring their child ges t schl. Regular attendance is essential fr children t gain maximum benefit frm their schling. The Act prvides fr the prsecutin f the parent where they fail t enrl their child in an apprved educatin prgram r where the child is persistently absent withut a valid reasn. Where all supprtive strategies have been tried, the Department will use its authrity t mre frmally engage parents with the supprt and services they need t imprve the situatin and take decisive actin t prsecute parents if it is warranted. The Department will implement the Parental Supprt and Respnsibility Act 2008 by instigating respnsible parenting agreements and requesting respnsible parenting rders where apprpriate. Guidelines fr schls n agreements and rders will be develped The prcess f prsecuting parents wh fail t supprt their children s attendance at schl will be simplified. It will include fast-tracking prsecutins where there is a histry f parent nn-respnsiveness. Supprting prgram The Department will supprt parents by expanding the Psitive Parenting Prgram t 120 metrplitan and 60 reginal centres ver the next fur years. The prgram supprts parents t develp the skills t manage their children in a psitive way and establish rutines that are cnducive t regular schl attendance.
9 7. Establishing partnerships with lcal businesses and agencies t imprve attendance The invlvement f lcal businesses and agencies in targeting pr attendance will benefit the whle cmmunity by reducing juvenile crime and increasing each student s ptential t make a valuable cntributins t sciety. Agreements between schls, lcal businesses and agencies will allw effective appraches t attendance t be develped based n mutual bligatin fr the care f yung peple. Cmmunity agreements will be established t frmalise integrated actin at the lcal level. These agreements will include partnerships between schls and industry, business, agencies and lcal gvernment. A framewrk will be develped t supprt schls entering int agreements. The Department will prmte lcal partnerships with WA Plice t cnduct anti-truancy peratins such as Street Sweeps and expand prgrams such as Keeping Kids in Schls. Prcesses will be established that enable verificatin f any ptentially at risk students enrlment status. The Department will imprve the standardised leave pass system t strengthen links with WA Plice and parents. 8. Prviding prfessinal learning fr schl staff and cmmunity members n hw t address pr attendance Addressing pr attendance is a cmplex task that demands specific knwledge and expertise. Implementing effective strategies requires peple wh can facilitate slutins invlving a range f stakehlders. Prfessinal learning fr staff t plan and manage effective strategies with families and the cmmunity will have a direct impact n imprved student attendance. Prfessinal learning in culturally apprpriate, practical respnses t attendance will be develped and ffered t schls and clusters. Training will be mandatry fr staff in thse schls identified as mst at risk. The Imprving attendance resurce currently used by schls will be revised t include practical attendance strategies and infrmatin n hw t re-engage students with pr attendance, encurage parental engagement and ways t develp cmmunity partnerships. The resurce will be distributed t all public schls and made available nline t private schls. It will cntain specific strategies linked t the varius causes f pr attendance.
10 9. Making regular attendance a pririty acrss the Department Addressing student nn-attendance requires an extended perid f direct interventin by staff at all levels. This means a renewed fcus by schls n establishing and meeting well defined targets and embedding this within all planning, perfrmance management and accuntability prcesses. Attendance frms an integral part f the Department s dcumentatin. All schls will set attendance imprvement targets which will be mnitred thrugh accuntability prcesses. Principals f schls with significant attendance prblems will have imprved student attendance included in their perfrmance agreements. Data systems will be created fr schls that link attendance with ther indicatrs f educatin risk such as literacy and behaviur. Research will be cnducted t establish the current causes f nn-attendance and the mst effective evidence-based respnses. Current prgrams and services that supprt schls t imprve attendance a fcus and prvide better links t supprt schls t imprve attendance. Supprting prgrams The expansin f the fllwing schl supprt prgrams will prvide additinal capacity t supprt attendance: Schl Psychlgy Service: Fifty additinal schl psychlgists will be emplyed in schls ver the next fur years t supprt students with mental, behaviural and ther health issues which have a direct impact n student attendance. Chaplaincy prgram: This prgram will be expanded acrss the State ver the next fur years. Chaplains play a key pastral care rle in supprting schls t develp welcming and psitive learning envirnments. Students are mre likely t attend schl when they feel safe and supprted. Classrm Management Strategies (CMS) prfessinal learning prgram: Effective teachers with sund classrm practice create envirnments where students succeed and chse t attend. CMS trains teachers in classrm and instructinal skills s disruptin is reduced and engagement increased. Participatin crdinatrs: They will wrk mre cllabratively with attendance and Abriginal educatin teams t supprt attendance f 15 t 17 year ld students. Abriginal educatin All Abriginal students with an attendance rate belw 80 per cent require a dcumented plan in 2010, and Abriginal students with an attendance rate belw 90 per cent will require a dcumented plan frm 2012.
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