Student Attendance

New South Wales Attendance Register Codes

The NSW Education Act requires that the principal of a registered non-government school keep a register of enrolments and daily attendances of all children at the school. The register of enrolments and/or the register of daily attendances may be maintained in print or electronic form.

Attendance registers must be in a form approved by the Minister for Education. In 2010 the Minister approved a common code for the attendance registers of all NSW schools. In 2014 the Minister approved amendments to the code. The codes must be used by all NSW schools. The NSW attendance register codes for implementation from January 2015 are available here.

The NSW Department of Education and Communities has provided details for non-Government schools that need to order class roll books which include the new NSW attendance codes. Details are provided here.

Delegations to School Authorities and Principals

In 2010 the Minister, under s25 of the Act, delegated to the principal of a non-government school and to the person or body appointed under s40 of the Act to be the approved authority for a system or proposed system of non-government schools the power to grant and cancel a certificate of exemption from being enrolled and attending school in certain prescribed circumstances. Currently there are two such circumstances. In all cases, an exemption from attendance or enrolment must be in the best interests of the student.

The two existing delegations are available here and they concern:

  1. Granting and cancelling of a certificate of exemption from being enrolled and attending school for periods totalling 100 days in a twelve month period. Click to see the Delegation for Exemption 100 days Document
  2. Granting and cancelling of a certificate of exemption from being enrolled and attending school for an indefinite period for students who have completed Year 9 of secondary education and who have been approved to undertake a full-time apprenticeship or traineeship. Click to see Apprenticeships Traineeships Documents

As part of a school’s strategy to respond to the issue of habitual non-attendance, there is a delegation from the NSW DEC Director-General which gives power to make schooling arrangements with one or more parents of a child that includes a written undertaking by the parent or parents with respect to compulsory schooling for the child. Click to see Undertakings Document  

School Attendance Legal Actions

CECNSW has agreed arrangements with the NSW Department of Education for the Department’s Legal Services Branch to progress those habitual non-attendance interventions which require action in the Children’s Court.

To this end a set of School Attendance Legal Action Guidelines has been finalised.

Under the proposed Guidelines, Catholic School Authorities will be able to instruct the Department’s Legal Services Branch to progress, in the name of the Department’s Secretary, Catholic school actions for prosecution of Parents (and, possibly, students over 12) through either or both the Children’s Court and the Local Court.

The process to be used by non-government schools to give effect to the School Attendance Legal Action Guidelinesinvolves use of a referral form to notify the Department’s Legal Services Branch of chronic and unresolvable breaches of attendance requirements of the NSW Education Act. Referrals from NSW Catholic School Authorities must be submitted to the Department through the Catholic Education Commission, NSW. Catholic School Authorities may access the agreed referrral form by contacting CECNSW by email (to 

Students Whose Whereabouts are Unknown

When the whereabouts of a student who was enrolled in a Catholic school are unknown, the school should contact

The NSW Department of Education does not follow up on the non-attendance of students who are currently enrolled in non-government schools. If a student is no longer enrolled in a Catholic school and the school has reason to believe that the student is not attending any school, a report can be filed to the above Department of Education email address. 

Reporting Student Attendance : Changes from 2015

From 2015, schools will be required to implement 2013 COAG decisions to improve school attendance.

The COAG decision is to publish:

  • Attendance data twice-yearly by school, for all students (by Indigeneity, subject to privacy thresholds); and
  • The proportion of students attending school 90 percent or more of the time, as well as data by remoteness area (split by Indigeneity).

In implementing the COAG decision, schools are required to report enrolment and attendance data separately in respect of the first semester and the third term, from 2015.

Student attendance data will have to be collected and reported according to the standards outlined in theNational Standards for_Student_Attendance_ Data Reporting.

The Australian Government Department of Education has re-designed its student data attendance collection system to take account of the changed requirements. New and detailed data specifications have been developed to assist non-government schools and systems. The 2015 Attendance Collection Data specifications are available here.

Guidelines for Managing Student Attendance, Leave and Exemptions

NSW Catholic School Authorities have developed advice to schools to assist implementation of the new student attendance requirements. 

The Catholic Education Office Sydney has made available the Guidelines and related documentation for Catholic schools in the Sydney Archdiocese for use by other systems and schools.

Section 1
Procedures for Student Attendance in NSW Catholic Ststemic Schools Feb 2016

NSW Attendance Register (Roll) Codes and Roll Marking Procedures (Roll Book  Insert)

Section 2
Guidelines for Exemption from Attendance in NSW Catholic Systemic Schools

Section 3
Guidelines for Completion of Education Under Special Circumstances

Section 4 (New)
Supporting the Regular Attendance of Students at School

This new resource provides the following: 

  • school action for non-attendance of students
  • timeline for days 1-30
  • sample letters and pro forma
  • student attendance improvement plan (20 school days)

Section 5 : FORMS


1. Extended Leave – Travel

2. Exemption from Attendance at School

3. Completion of Full-Time Apprenticeship or Traineeship from Year 10

4. Exemption from Enrolment at School

Information Brochures

The NSW Cross Sector Attendance Working Party has developed information brochures on compulsory attendance for use by NSW schools, families and communities. 

The brochures available are as follows:

Information for PRINCIPALS

Information for PARENTS


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