‘It does add up’: Concerning school trend

·2-min read
The NSW government wants to improve attendance rates at school. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

The NSW government has launched a push to ramp up student attendance rates that continue to lag behind pre-Covid rates.

An ad campaign beginning on Thursday will urge parents not take pull their children from school unless they are sick.

The announcement comes as the attendance rates across NSW public schools are still behind 2019 pre-pandemic rates of 90.2 per cent. In 2022, attendance levels dropped to 85.7 per cent but recovered to 89.4 per cent during the first term of 2023.

The NSW government has placed a target of 95 per cent for school attendance rates, with hopes the Every Day Matters campaign will reduce absentee numbers. The radio and social media ads will educate parents on reducing absenteeism close to weekends and public holidays, reducing holidays during term time and reducing days off due to “convenience or pressure” from students.

The ad blitz will cost $690,000 and has been funded from existing resources.

NSW Premier Chris Minns warned that one day off a fortnight during a child’s total schooling would equate to a full year of missed classes.

“It does add up,” he said.

“When you‘re taking so many days off through the year, perhaps not even fully understanding how many days per year your child is taking off, that’s when it can have a real impact on the child’s education.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns warned that one absent day of class per fortnight would add up to a year of missed education over a child’s schooling. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Swift

He made the announcement alongside Deputy Premier and Education Minister Prue Car at Canterbury Girls High School, where he claimed there was a 100 per cent attendance record and students “never” skipped school. The comment earnt him a laugh from his colleagues.

Ms Car said parents had “been through the wringer” during pandemic at-home learning provisions, but it was time for students to return to the classroom.

“There are a number of reasons why we’re seeing a drop in their attendance rates, but we need to be doing everything as a government that is focused on education in the classroom,” she said.

Mr Minns, who has three sons, said he hoped the campaign would also help parents make informed decisions.

“These are calls made by parents across NSW every single day of the week. We want to make sure they‘ve got all the information available before they make that decision,” he said.