Student Absence Enrolment 2 Enrolment 1

Compulsory School Attendance

Dear parents and carers,

Since 1870, schooling has been compulsory in Australia. Unfortunately, for many children learning at school has been optional. The learning needs of some students have not always being adequately catered for in a traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to learning and teaching.

While schooling remains compulsory today, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Parramatta also want learning to be compulsory by delivering a schooling experience that caters to the needs, abilities and interests of each student. Our school leaders and teachers are working hard to ensure students receive a personalised, relevant and meaningful Catholic education. 

There are many ways in which families can support their children to be prepared for learning at school. For example, by making school attendance a high priority in your family; by ensuring children get enough sleep, a good diet and regular exercise; by encouraging reading from an early age; by sharing the learning journey through an active involvement in your child’s school, hobbies and extracurricular activities, and so on.

Of course, in order for students to learn at school, they need to show up. In fact, it is illegal for a school-aged child not to attend school. Even more troubling though, is the learning a child will miss if they do not attend school. If a student misses as little as eight days each term, by the end of primary school they will have missed over a year of learning.

This brochure outlines the compulsory attendance guidelines from the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Communities–guidelines that apply to our own Parramatta Diocesan Catholic schoolsand your responsibilities as a parent or carer.

 كراسة عربى

Please take the time to read this important information and also to consider why schooling is compulsory… so children can be active and successful learners now and in the future.

Greg Whitby 
Executive Director of Schools

NSW school attendance

In NSW, school attendance is compulsory for children over the age of six years until the minimum school leaving age of 17 years. Students must complete Year 10 and after Year 10 (until they turn 17 years of age) students must be:

  • in school or registered for home schooling, or
  • in approved education or training (e.g. TAFE, traineeship, apprenticeship)
  • in full-time, paid employment (average 25 hours per week) or in a combination of work, education and/or training

What if my child has to be away from school?

Parents are required to notify the Student Administration Secretary on the first day of a students absence by calling 8882 0707.

note explaining the absence is to be handed to their Learning Advisor on the first day of their return to school. The absence note must have the students name, Learning Advisor’s name and parent’s name printed clearly, as well as the reason for the absence. It must be signed by a parent.

A medical certificate must be attached if the absence is for three or more days, or if it is the day of an assessment task.

A small number of absences may be justified if your child:

  • has to attend a special religious ceremony
  • is required to attend to a serious and/or urgent family situation (e.g. a funeral)
  • is too sick to go to school or has an infectious illness

Children need to arrive at school and to class on time. Lateness to school or leaving early from school must be recorded as a partial absence. If your child is late to school he/she is to report to the student office on arrival, accompanied with a note from yourself to explain the lateness.

Application for Extended Leave (including Holidays)

As part of the implementation of the National Standards, holidays taken by students outside of school vacation periods will now be included as absencesA Certificate of Exemption can no longer be granted for this purpose.

Families are encouraged to holiday or travel during school vacations. If travel during school term is necessary the following considerations apply: 

You must complete an Application for Extended Leave form (for Leave of 5 or more days).
Download the Application for Extended Leave Form here.

If the Principal accepts the reason for the absence, the absence will be marked as “L” (Approved Leave) and you will be issued with a Certificate for Extended Leave.

If the Principal does not believe the absence is in the student’s best interests and does not accept the reason, the absence is unjustified and will be recorded as “A” (The student’ absence has not been explained in writing or the Principal does not accept the explanation)

If the period of absence is in excess of 50 days, the student may be eligible to enrol in Distance Education. However, that will mean that the student will no longer be enrolled at St Agnes, as a student cannot be enrolled in more than one school concurrently (including Distance Education).

Responsibilities of the school Principal

Principals help to ensure the safety, welfare and the wellbeing of your child. They must also keep accurate records of student attendance. Principals are able to question requests for a child to be absent from school and are also responsible for deciding if the reason given for an absence is justified. Principals may request medical certificates or other documentation for long or frequent absences explained as being due to illness.

When absences are unexplained by parents, or explanations are not accepted by the Principal, the school will work with parents to identify the reasons for non-attendance and put in place strategies so the child can return to school. Principals may ask support staff or other agencies to assist.

What if my child continues to have unsatisfactory attendance?

It is important to understand that the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC), on behalf of the State Minister for Education, may take further action in cases where children of compulsory school age have recurring numbers of unexplained or unacceptable absences 
from school. The following actions may be taken in these cases:

Attendance meetings

Parents, and sometimes their child, can be asked to attend a meeting with school and Catholic Education Office personnel and in some cases, DEC regional officers. The aim of the meeting is to help identify strategies to support the child and family and remove barriers to non-attendance. Other agencies may also be invited, if parents agree.

Compulsory attendance conferences

If school attendance does not improve, parents and sometimes their child, can be asked to attend a compulsory attendance conference. The conference, which will be run by a trained conference convenor, aims to help the school, parents and other agencies to further identify the issue impacting on a child’s attendance. The outcome of a compulsory attendance conference is for the parties to agree to undertake certain actions to improve the child’s attendance. These actions are agreed in writing.

Compulsory schooling order

If previous attempts to resolve the issue of a child’s attendance are not successful, legal compliance can be sought through an application to the Children’s Court for a Compulsory Schooling Order. The aim is to assist a family and/or child to address the issues preventing satisfactory school attendance. This has the added enforcement of a Court’s powers.


If all attempts by schools, the Catholic Education Office and DEC regional support staff fail to improve a child’s attendance, action can be taken in the Local Court with the result of fines being imposed up to a maximum of $11,000.

School Refusal - What can I do?

Causes of School Refusal

A small number of students become agitated when they are at school. If your child becomes very fearful or anxious and our suggested strategies do not work, you may want to consider seeing your GP who might recommend a psychologist or family therapist. Our School Counsellor would be a good person with whom to discuss these options.

If your child reports that they are being bullied, you need to notify the school. Action needs to happen to ensure your child feels safe at school.

It is a real concern when a child refuses to go to school. There are concerns about their progress and friendships being affected by absences. It is important for you to stay calm and let your child see you are in control.

Giving messages about school

Let your child know you have confidence in the school (you had good reason for choosing our school for your child).

Don't take your child's complaints about school at face value. It is better to say "I'll look into that" and follow up with the appropriate person at the school.

Further information is available from:

Catholic Education Commission policy and information - search ‘student attendance’ or

NSW Department of Education and Communities

Access our school notes & forms
School Canteen
School Uniform Shop
School Student Transport Scheme
Who To Contact
External Student Support

Contact Us

Evans Road
Rooty Hill NSW 2766

Postal Address
PO Box 24
Rooty Hill NSW 2766


8882 0700

8882 0790

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Contact Us

  • Address
    Evans Road
    Rooty Hill NSW 2766

    Postal Address
    PO Box 24
    Rooty Hill NSW 2766


    8882 0700

    8882 0790

  •  Send us an email
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