Your Legal Requirements

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Guidance to help all Victorian schools manage and record student attendance.

What is considered compulsary attendance?

Schooling is compulsory for children and young people aged 6 – 17 years. Students are expected to attend their enrolled school during normal school hours every day of each term, unless:

  • the student meets one of the exceptions available
  • the student is registered for home schooling  and have only a partial enrolment in a school for particular activities
  • the student has an approved exemption from school attendance.

A student is considered to be in attendance at school when:

  • present at their enrolled school
  • involved in an offsite curriculum program or other activity organised by the school (for example an excursion or camp)
  • engaged in a re-engagement program or another school part time to make up full time attendance and the schools or settings have agreed the time fractions, allocation of Student Resource Package (or other funding) and the educational plan for the student.

Managing and recording attendance

It is essential that schools accurately monitor and record student attendance and follow-up absences in order to:

  • meet legislative requirements
  • discharge schools’ duty of care for all students
  • assist calculation of the government school’s funding
  • enable school councils to report on student attendance annually
  • meet Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) requirements (for VCE students).

The following information outlines steps you need to take to manage a student's attendance:

Recording attendance

All students enrolled in the school must have their attendance recorded, even if they only attend the school premises part time.

All registered schools must ensure that their system for recording student attendance meets the requirements outlined in the School Attendance Guidelines.

The principal or nominee must record:

  • student attendance twice per day in primary schools and in every class in secondary schools for every student enrolled at the school
  • the reason given for each absence in writing
  • whether the student was physically present in a classroom, or not present but attending a school-approved activity in order to meet duty of care responsibilities
  • attendance  at a school-approved activity and ensure the parents and guardians are notified
  • attendance of students at curriculum programs outside of school premises
  • absence as ‘unexplained’ if no reason has been provided and changed once a reason has been provided or established
  • a student as present for a half day when they have attended at least two hours of instruction
  • the attendance of students at curriculum programs outside of school premises (recorded by the provider and reported back and recorded by the school)
  • management of non-attendance in conjunction with the provider of re-engagement programs or approved education provider.

The principal should determine if the reason provided for absences is reasonable for the purposes of the parent meeting their obligations under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. The principal is required to consider section 2.1.3 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 when deciding what a reasonable excuse entails.

Government schools must record attendance in CASES21

Government schools must use only CASES21, eCASES21 or third party software which is compatible with CASES21 to record student attendance.

More information on recording attendance in CASES21 can be found on the Department's Intranet (Edumail login required).

See: Attendance - Resources for Principals

Monitoring attendance

In addition to accurately and consistently recording student attendance and absence, principals should ensure school attendance data is regularly monitored and analysed to identify student absence patterns on a school, class and individual basis. Accurate and comprehensive student attendance records, including the reasons for non-attendance allow schools to:

  • monitor the effectiveness of attendance improvement strategies and measure achievement against attendance targets
  • report information about student enrolment and attendance for funding requirements
  • provide evidence  to the School Attendance Officer for any further enforcement proceedings including:
    • the issuing of an Infringement Notice (and any subsequent appeal)
    • court proceedings if it appears a parent has not met their legal obligations to ensure their child’s school attendance.

Tools to help manage attendance

The Student Mapping Tool is available to all government schools for early identification of students at risk of poor attendance and possible disengagement from school. For more information, see: Student Mapping Tool

Attendance exemptions

The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 allows exemptions from school attendance and enrolment to be granted in certain circumstances.

All applications for exemptions are considered on a case by case basis, with the student's best interests as the guiding principle for decision-making.

In making a decision, the potential benefits or negative consequences of granting the exemption to the student's educational progress, wellbeing and development are also considered. A student must continue attending school until an exemption is granted. 

Without an exemption, the student’s absences will count towards the school’s absences for reporting purposes.  For example:

  • A student with an exemption from attendance for one day per week, who attends the four days per week they are expected to attend, would have 100 per cent attendance, whereas if no exemption was in place the student would have 80 per cent attendance.
Read the full Exemption from School Attendance policy
Available in the School Policy and Advisory Guide.

Home schooling

Home schooling in Victoria is a legally recognised alternative to attending a registered school. For more information, see: Home Schooling

Print the Student Attendance Guidelines

These pages have been developed from the 2014 School Attendance Guidelines. The guidelines support schools and School Attendance Officers to meet their responsibilities and duties under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 and the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017.

To download the guidelines in full, see: Attendance Guidelines