PART 3: CHILDREN'S OUTCOMES - EDUCATION

Attendance at School*

School attendance is an important factor for school performance among youth. Studies show that higher attendance is related to higher achievement for students of all backgrounds. Students who attend school regularly score higher on achievement tests than their peers who are frequently absent.24

Measure

The percentage of children who are absent from school for 20 days or more in the school year.

Key findings

  • In the 2004-2005 school year, the overall average attendance for a student at primary school was 94.2% (see Table 38). This translates to 11 days' absence on average for each student. This rate was higher for rural schools (94.9%) than for urban ones (92.8%).
  • 10% of primary school students were absent for 20 days or more in the school year. The percentage of students with this level of absenteeism was, on average, lower in rural schools (7.8%) than in urban schools (14.9%).
  • Almost one in 5 primary school students (19.4%) in the most disadvantaged schools missed 20 or more school days, compared to 6.2% of students in the least disadvantaged schools. An average of 15 days per student was missed in the most disadvantaged schools and an average of 10 days per student in the least disadvantaged schools.

Table 38: Attendance levels in primary schools, by school location and level of disadvantage (2004/2005)

  Mean % annual attendance
in school year
% of students missing
20 days or more in school year
Mean average 94.2 10.0
School location    
Urban 92.8 14.9
Rural 94.9 7.8
Level of disadvantage    
Least disadvantaged school 95.2 6.2
Most disadvantaged school 91.9 19.4

Source: National Educational Welfare Board

  • The mean attendance level among students in post-primary schools was 91.6% in the 2004-2005 school year (see Table 39). This translates to 14 days' absence on average for each student.
  • 18.8% of post-primary school students were absent for 20 days or more in the school year. The percentage of students with this level of absenteeism was lowest in secondary schools (15.1%) and highest in vocational schools (24.9%).
  • More than one in 3 post-primary school students (34.8%) in the most disadvantaged schools missed 20 or more school days, compared to less than one in 10 students (9.2%) in the least disadvantaged schools. On average, post-primary school students in the most disadvantaged schools missed 21 school days, while those in the least disadvantaged schools missed 10 school days.

Table 39: Attendance levels in post-primary schools, by school type and level of disadvantage (2004/2005)

  Mean % annual attendance
in school year
% of students missing
20 days or more in school year
Mean average 91.6 18.8
School type    
Secondary 92.7 15.1
Vocational 89.6 24.9
Community and Comprehensive 91.5 20.7
Level of disadvantage    
Least disadvantaged school 94.2 9.2
Most disadvantaged school 86.9 34.8

Source: National Educational Welfare Board

Technical notes
Data in Tables 38 and 39 are based on School Attendance Reports, which are prepared by individual schools at primary and post-primary level and submitted to the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB). For the 2004-2005 school year, 83.9% of primary schools and 76% of post-primary schools returned these reports to the NEWB.

The reports record the following information:

  • total enrolment for 2004/2005;
  • sum of all individual student absences over the entire school year, up to and including the date the school closes;
  • number of students with 100% attendance;
  • number of students missing 20 days or more;
  • number of students expelled;
  • number of students suspended;
  • confirmation of availability of code of behaviour to parents and students;
  • confirmation of availability of admissions policy to parents and students.

Schools have been categorised into deciles of disadvantage on the basis of their overall points or rank in the national scheme of 'Giving Children an Even Break' and in the case of post-primary schools, into deciles of disadvantage on the basis of the indices used to rank schools for the '16:1' initiative.

Next

* No update available since the 2006 State of the Nation's Children report.

23 Epstein, J.L. and Sheldon, S.B. (2002) 'Present and Accounted For: Improving student attendance through family and community involvement' Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 95, No. 5, 308-18.