Improving student attendance

Student on attendance poster

Activity: Consider the following statement from Dr Chris Sarra as a basis for school attendance.

We have school/s that kids want to be in where the relationships are good and the classrooms are places that have intellectual integrity.
(Sarra 2011)

Group discussion

Consider the following scenarios in relation to providing a learning environment that is centred on intellectual integrity and good relationships.

  1.  Jenny is a graduate teacher in a remote school in a grade 1/2 class. She is organised and has the daily morning English literacy block planned but most mornings she only has 2 or 3 of her 15 students at school when school is scheduled to start. She decides to put on a DVD for the 2 or 3 kids each morning until more arrive about 30 -45 minutes after the bell.
  2. Kindergarten teacher refuses to send home another ‘reader’ for one of his students because the last reader was not returned.
  3. Duncan has noticed that a group of his students is having trouble concentrating on their work by about 10am. He talks to the kids and finds out that most mornings they don’t have breakfast before school.
  4. A secondary teacher in a remote school who has no or very low attendance in the mornings decides after talking to the Aboriginal Education Worker and Principal to use the school vehicle to do a drive around the community in the morning to pick up of her students. Attendance significantly increases for the morning period. The next year a different secondary teacher decides that because in the real world no one picks you up for work he would not be doing the rounds in the morning. Attendance drops off again.
  5. Janice has a very rowdy upper primary class so she regularly gives her class worksheets that contain busy work and colouring in to try to keep the classroom calm and manage their behaviour.


School attendance and retention of Indigenous Australian students Issues Paper No 1 produced for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, Nola Purdie and Sarah Buckley, September 2010:

What Works.The Work Program: CORE ISSUES 5, Student engagement: Attendance, participation and belonging:


Sarra, C 2011, Student attendance strategies, video, YouTube, viewed 29 August 2016, <>.