TRUANCY FAIL FOR SCHOOLS
STATS REVEAL STUDENT ATTENDANCE IS TURNING REGION INTO ‘MT TRUANT’
ALL government high schools in the Mt Druitt and St Marys area have recorded student attendance rates well below the state average.
Some high schools have recorded alarming attendance levels – more than 10 per cent below the state average, which currently sits at 92.9 per cent.
Schools in the area have had to implement strict strategies in an attempt to lift attendance rates as a result. Principals are also working with organisations to help combat truancy rates among students.
ALL government high schools in the St Marys and Mt Druitt area have recorded attendance well below the state average in the past year.
The average state attendance rate was 92.9 per cent in 2014, the highest rate recorded over the past 10 years.
However, many schools in the area were not following the trend.
Chifley College Bidwill Campus had an 82 per cent attendance rate while its Dunheved campus was at 84 per cent.
Other schools in the area, such as Colyton and St Clair high schools, were at 86 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively.
The attendance rates for indigenous students were even worse, with the lowest being 77 per cent attendance at Chifley College Mt Druitt.
Compared with schools in more affluent areas, there is a difference of more than 10 per cent in some cases, with Turramurra High School’s attendance rate coming in at 96 per cent.
While these attendance figures include legitimate absences due to illness, it is believed a large amount was due to truancy.
St Clair High School principal Chris Presland said the school had procedures in place to combat truancy.
“We see attendance slipping from about Year 8, hitting a low point in Year 9 and 10, so we try to focus there,” he said. “We track attendance very regularly using online roll marking for every lesson.
“Once a child’s attendance reaches below 85 per cent, we interview the family - mostly it’s about early intervention.”
Margaret Bell, who manages the Learning Ground in Mt Druitt, an organisation that runs a variety of programs aimed at getting truanting kids back to school, said: “We have an 80 per cent success rate and in the past three years we have returned 188 students back to school. We also work with the parents so they have the ability to guide their kids...” A Department of Education spokesman said school attendance was taken very seriously.
“It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that their child attends school every day that the school is open...” the spokesman said.