Manage and record attendance

​Advice to help all Victorian schools to understand the legal requirements for managing and recording student attendance. 

Compulsory 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 is registered for home schooling  and has only a partial enrolment in a school for particular activities
  • the student has an approved exemption from school enrolment or 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

Primary and specialist schools must record student attendance twice per day. This is necessary to:

  • meet legislative requirements
  • discharge the school’s duty of care for all students.

Your school’s attendance policy will specify who (that is, the classroom teacher) and when (that is, the start of the school day and after lunch) student attendance will be recorded.

Secondary schools must record student attendance in every class. This is necessary to:

  • meet legislative requirements
  • discharge the school’s duty of care for all students
  • meet Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) requirements for VCE students.

Your school’s attendance policy will specify who (that is, the classroom teacher) and when (that is, at the start of each lesson/period) student attendance will be recorded.

All students enrolled in the school are required to have their attendance recorded. Schools must ensure their system for recording and monitoring student attendance:

  • meets legislative requirements
  • discharges schools' duty of care for all students
  • enables the school governing body to report on student attendance annually
  • meets VCAA requirements (for VCE students).

Under the school attendance guidelines, schools are required to record and transpose attendance data in:

  • the Department run IT platform CASES21, eCASES21, or
  • third party software that is compatible with CASES21.

Schools using third party software are required to import attendance data into CASES21 on a monthly basis.

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:

  • each enrolled student’s attendance at least twice per day in the school’s attendance register including any reason given or apparent for a student’s absence
  • whether the reason for the absence is a reasonable excuse for non-attendance within the meaning of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006
  • on the student’s file, information about the student’s unsatisfactory attendance at school or classes
  • an absence as unexplained if no excuse has been given and change the attendance record once an excuse is provided or established
  • 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.

To meet duty of care responsibilities, the school attendance records should indicate whether the student was physically present in a classroom, or not present but attending a school-approved activity. In the latter situation, the teacher or staff member in charge of the activity should record attendance and ensure parents are notified of any absences in the same manner as for regular absences from school.

All students enrolled in the school are required to have their attendance recorded, even if they only attend the school premises part time. Attendance for the times the student is not expected to attend should be recorded so it does not count towards the absences for the school (government schools should use code 802 Exempt in CASES21.

The attendance of students at curriculum programs outside school premises needs to be recorded by the provider and reported back and recorded by the school. Schools manage absences 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.  Schools must upload attendance data monthly.

More information on recording and monitoring 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 any absence 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 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. Once identified as being at risk of poor attendance, students should be provided with timely targeted support to improve attendance or address underlying issues. Referral to student support services, student wellbeing coordinator or a primary welfare officer is recommended. For more information, see: Student Mapping Tool

Attendance exemptions

An exemption from compulsory school attendance requirements can be sought in accordance with the Education Training and Reform Act 2006 and applicable Ministerial Orders.

These can be sought where a child or young person has:

  • reached 6 years but has not started school and will be enorlled in a second year of kindergarten; or
  • has not reached 17 years but will leave school upon the completion of Year 12, for other education, training or employment , or otherwise in their best interests; or
  • is absent from school due to employment in the entertainment industry.

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. 

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.

Parents/carers who wish to home school their child must satisfy the requirements of the Victorian Regulation and Qualifications Authority. For more information, see: Home schooling