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 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
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.
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.
Macfarlane Primary School, Katherine, Northern Territory.