NT Schools At­ten­dance Strat­egy

The North­ern Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment’s School At­ten­dance Strat­egy aims im­prove ed­u­ca­tional out­comes by en­sur­ing young peo­ple reg­u­larly at­tend and en­gage at school.

The Australian Education Reporter - - NEWS: ACT/TAS - EMMA DAVIES

THE North­ern Ter­ri­tory gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that ev­ery stu­dent has ac­cess to qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, mak­ing sure chil­dren and young peo­ple are en­gaged and achieve the best pos­si­ble ed­u­ca­tional out­comes and path­ways pos­si­ble.

In the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, In­dige­nous stu­dents in re­mote ar­eas have some of the low­est rates of school at­ten­dance and achieve the poor­est ed­u­ca­tional out­comes in the coun­try. Al­most 46 per cent of the NT pop­u­la­tion who are 15 years or un­der are stu­dents liv­ing in re­mote ar­eas. 40 per cent of stu­dents in gov­ern­ment schools are In­dige­nous and over 37 per cent of the school-aged pop­u­la­tion makes up the most dis­ad­van­taged so­cioe­co­nomic group in the ter­ri­tory, com­pared to 22 per cent na­tion­ally.

NT Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion Eva Lawler is a strong ad­vo­cate for school at­ten­dance and has launched an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign aimed at boost­ing school at­ten­dance.

“School at­ten­dance is strongly aligned to aca­demic per­for­mance, which is why fam­i­lies have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to get their chil­dren to school ev­ery day,” Ms Lawler said.

The main fo­cus is on clos­ing the gap be­tween In­dige­nous and non-in­dige­nous school at­ten­dance and ed­u­ca­tional out­comes, with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Ev­ery Day Counts ini­tia­tive, sup­port­ing en­gage­ment and par­tic­i­pa­tion by ad­dress­ing the broader fac­tors that in­flu­ence at­ten­dance.

“Ev­ery Day Counts is a whole-of-gov­ern­ment school at­ten­dance strat­egy aimed at lift­ing school at­ten­dance to im­prove the learn­ing, well­be­ing and en­gage­ment of young Ter­ri­to­ri­ans,” Ms Lawler said.

“The strat­egy will sup­port young peo­ple to en­gage in school­ing by strength­en­ing part­ner­ships with fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, schools and gov­ern­ment agen­cies. As a gov­ern­ment we are putting chil­dren at the cen­tre of our de­ci­sion mak­ing, and there are few things more im­por­tant for chil­dren than get­ting the best ed­u­ca­tion pos­si­ble.”

School at­ten­dance is linked to im­prov­ing the so­cial and econ­mic cir­cum­stances of peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly in re­mote parts of the NT.

Get­ting the right start in life is es­sen­tial for a childs suc­cess later in life and shapes their abil­ity to thrive, stay healthy, so­cially con­nected and con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety both so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally.

De­spite ef­forts by both the North­ern Ter­ri­tory and Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments with the School En­rol­ment and At­ten­dance Mea­sure and the Re­mote School At­ten­dance Strat­egy, school at­ten­dance in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory for re­mote stu­dents re­mains crit­i­cally low.

Many fac­tors in­flu­ence school at­ten­dance. Ex­pe­ri­ences in early child­hood and ed­u­ca­tion are crit­i­cal foun­da­tions for a child’s en­tire life and a range of so­cial de­ter­mi­nants can af­fect a child’s ex­pe­ri­ences in early child­hood in­clud­ing parental ed­u­ca­tion, health and well be­ing, par­ent, carer and fam­ily en­gage­ment, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, hous­ing and em­ploy­ment.

The three key pri­or­i­ties of the strat­egy are safe and healthy com­mu­ni­ties, strong fam­i­lies and qual­ity early child­hood ser­vices and schools.

Safe and healthy com­mu­ni­ties means


en­sur­ing chil­dren are sup­ported to at­tend school through transport ser­vices, health as­sess­ments, hous­ing op­tions and sup­port ser­vices, polic­ing and sup­port pro­grams for vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, and psy­cho­log­i­cal and in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices for young of­fend­ers.

The fo­cus is also on en­cour­ag­ing pos­i­tive be­hav­iours and fos­ter­ing an en­vi­ron­ment for learn­ing within the child’s fam­ily and com­mu­nity.

“While the broader com­mu­nity and gov­ern­ment agen­cies can play a part, in the end its fam­i­lies who are the most im­por­tant play­ers in get­ting young peo­ple to schools,” said Ms Lawler.

“I want to see more Ter­ri­tory fam­i­lies shoul­der­ing their re­spon­si­bil­ity in get­ting chil­dren to school.”

The strat­egy will also ex­pand the de­liv­ery of in­te­grated child and fam­ily ser­vices in re­mote and ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties across the North­ern Ter­ri­tory that sup­port tran­si­tion to school and strengthen par­ent and carer en­gage­ment in learn­ing. Young par­ents will also be en­cour­aged and sup­ported to com­plete their own sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

“Ul­ti­mately, par­ents who don’t send their kids to school are con­demn­ing their chil­dren to the prospect of a sec­ond-rate fu­ture. All of the re­search shows a good ed­u­ca­tion is es­sen­tial to help­ing chil­dren suc­ceed in life.”

“We know things are tough for some fam­i­lies but in the end the best thing they can do is send their chil­dren to school. There are gov­ern­ment agen­cies to help fam­i­lies fac­ing chal­lenges in get­ting chil­dren to school,” Ms Lawler said.

The goal is to cre­ate learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments that are en­gag­ing, in­clu­sive, safe and which ac­com­mo­date dif­fer­ent learn­ing needs and paces for stu­dents of all ages, cul­tures and abil­i­ties.

The es­tab­lish­ment of board­ing fa­cil­i­ties for ac­cess to qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for In­dige­nous sec­ondary aged stu­dents from re­mote lo­ca­tions may be nec­es­sary with sup­port in place for stu­dents tran­si­tion­ing be­tween dif­fer­ent learn­ing lev­els and schools.

Teach­ers will also need to be sup­ported, with the NT Gov­ern­ment set to im­ple­ment a school wide pos­i­tive be­hav­iour frame­work to pro­vide a so­cial and emo­tional learn­ing cur­ricu­lum with school-wide mon­i­tor­ing and data col­lec­tion sys­tems.

Im­ple­men­ta­tion and progress against per­for­mance mea­sures and tar­gets will be mon­i­tored ev­ery six months and in­clude a fo­cus on the num­ber of In­dige­nous vs non-in­dige­nous chil­dren en­rolled in preschool, the pro­por­tion of In­dige­nous vs non-in­dige­nous chil­dren at­tend­ing school four days or more per week, par­tic­u­larly in re­mote ar­eas.

Indi­ca­tiors also in­clude the pro­por­tion of stu­dents tran­si­tion­ing from mid­dle school to se­nior sec­ondary school, the num­ber of in­fringe­ment notices is­sued and in­ci­dents re­sult­ing in sus­pen­sion, po­ten­tially de­creas­ing youth del­i­quency, petty crime and is­sues with the law.

Not only does the strat­egy en­vi­son all young peo­ple in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory at­tend­ing school, it also strives ev­ery day to im­prove their ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and health out­comes so that they can con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety and lead ful­fill­ing, sucess­ful lives.

NT Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Eva Lawler.

Im­age: in­dige­nous.gov.au

Mac­far­lane Pri­mary School, Kather­ine, North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

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