Working with parents on school attendance

Building positive and collaborative relationships with parents is a critical aspect of improving student attendance.

Schools should contact parents promptly if their child has repeated absences without a reasonable excuse or explanation.

Where absences are of concern due to their nature or frequency, the school should work collaboratively with the parent/guardian, the student, and other professionals, where appropriate, to develop strategies to improve attendance.

In engaging with parents, principals need to ensure that appropriate supports are provided (for example, interpreters, advocates) in order to facilitate their involvement.

Schools should keep records of all attempts to contact parents or students and any information obtained.

Meeting with parents

Meetings with parents and students should be arranged to develop attendance improvement strategies that support the student and to examine why non-attendance continues to be a problem.

At the first meeting, the principal or nominee should focus on:

  • establishing a shared understanding of accountability and strategies for improving attendance
  • ensuring parents are aware of the absences and fully appreciate the educational implications for the student
  • identifying the reasons for the absences
  • exploring any factors preventing attendance or participation
  • requesting parents engage with alternative strategies to improve attendance
  • identifying appropriate attendance improvement strategies
  • documenting which improvement strategy has been selected, with clear discussion about the ways in which it will be monitored and when it will be reviewed
  • explaining the possible consequences of repeated non-attendance, including referral to a attendance officer.

Meetings with parents of students with attendance issues should feel supportive rather than disciplinary, with a focus on positive and proactive solutions.

Consideration should be given to cultural and language differences, and translated material or an interpreter should be provided if required. The family should be given the opportunity to discuss cultural practices, or to invite a cultural leader to discuss cultural practices on their behalf if relevant to the meeting. Meeting times should also be negotiated in order to ensure a mutually agreeable time is decided on with necessary support provided.

For more information on strategies, see: Improving attendance

For supporting resources and information, see: Attendance resources for schools


For information and resources to help parents understand their obligations, see: Attendance - for parents