Older News  » Why school is cool

Last updated 10:55 AM on 15 September 2011

New research by the education department has confirmed just how important consistent school attendance is to a student's academic achievement.

The study showed that schools with high attendance records ranked highly in student performance, irrespective of the school's socioeconomic (SES) status.

Dave Wasson, director of the department's educational measurement and school accountability directorate, said it was the first time that SES status had been measured against academic performance and attendance data.

"What is particularly significant about this data is it represents all socioeconomic status areas across NSW. We can, in fact, have exceptionally high performance in low SES environments with high attendance," Mr Wasson said.

"The top 50 per cent of schools state-wide, in terms of attendance, are having a dramatic impact in terms of student outcomes."

Schools in the Riverina hit upon a catchy way to highlight the importance of school attendance among the wider community. Home school liaison officer Lyn Bond adapted a Victorian banner program for schools in Deniliquin and soon her colleagues in Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Albury were on board to spread a positive message about attendance.

The huge banners say "Missing school leaves gaps in your education" and are draped around Riverina schools.

"The purpose of the banner was to show the community if you miss school it leaves gaps," Ms Bond said.

"It's like the grandmas and aunties and friends then know it's not okay for students to stay home because it's their birthday or to go shopping for the day."

The Riverina region has since developed a resource called Celebrate Attendance that has been distributed to each of its 195 schools to reinforce the importance of attendance in the wider school community. It includes surveys, monitoring, promotional and evaluation strategies and student activities about school attendance.