Children start school once they turn 5 and must stay in education or training until they finish Year 12, receive a Certificate III or reach the age of 18.

Every school day matters for your child’s education. Absences are only authorised for reasons such as being unwell, or experiencing a significant event which impacts on your child’s ability to attend school.

It is important to communicate to your child’s school about the length and reason for any absences. Your child’s school may request further evidence or information in some circumstances.

Starting, attending, and finishing school

  • Children are encouraged to attend Kindergarten from 4 years of age.
  • Children and young people must enrol at school (Prep) or an approved home education program from the year after they turn 5.
  • Young people need to stay in education or training until they finish Year 12, receive a Certificate III, or reach the age of 18.

For more information about school starting and leaving ages, and exemption from attending school, see the Starting and leaving ages page.

Reasons your child can be absent from school

If your child is absent from school, it is important that you discuss the reason with your child’s Principal or a staff member as soon as practical.

Authorised reasons your child may be absent

  • Sickness/incapacity.
  • Bereavement of a person your child had a close, significant or family relationship with.
  • Medical, legal or related appointments.
  • Have been subjected to a traumatic event.
  • Terminal illness of an immediate family member.
  • Natural disaster or extreme weather preventing your child from safely attending their enrolled school.
  • Being a participant or official at a recognised State, National or International event.
  • Where an independent student or parent objects, to their child participating in a school activity specified in the Education Regulations 2017 (contact your school if you have concerns).
  • Participation in a recognised learning experience.
  • Provisional registration for home education being granted by the Education Registrar.
  • Where directed to stay at home, based on advice from the Director of Public Health.

What to do if your child has to be absent from school

If your child needs to be away from school, it is important to tell the school as soon as possible. You can:

  • Send a note or email to the school.
  • Telephone the school office.
  • Use the school’s preferred method (for example Dojo or Seesaw).
  • Visit the school.

Your child’s Principal may ask for a medical certificate or further evidence to explain absence for illness, after your child has been absent for a total of more than 5 days in a school year.

The principal may also request evidence for other authorised absences; such as evidence of participation in an event or recognised learning experience, or a statutory declaration from a parent.

Absence without an authorised reason

If your child is absent for a reason that isn’t in the authorised list, it will be recorded as an unauthorised absence.

Principals receive notifications about the number of unauthorised absences your child has. Your child’s school may send you a letter notifying you of the number of unauthorised absences your child has.

If the Principal is concerned about your child’s attendance, they will seek to work with you to increase your child’s attendance to maximise their learning.

Absence due to a family holiday during school term

Schools encourage family holidays to occur during the scheduled school holiday breaks.

If your family decides to take a holiday during school term, you are encouraged to discuss your plans with the Principal or your child’s teacher.

What happens if your child isn’t attending school

Schools will follow up absences, which could include sending letters to let you know how many unauthorised absences your child has during the year.

How to help your child get the most from their education

  • Talk to your child about what’s happening at school. You can help to support your child’s interest and confidence in learning.
  • Regularly remind your child that every school day matters. It is an opportunity to grow, keep up with peers and connect with teachers and mates.
  • Minimise unnecessary absences to give your child the most opportunities to learn. For example, try and make medical appointments outside school hours and arrange family holidays in school holidays.

Schools will work closely with parents to support a child’s attendance at school to maximise their learning. They can provide options for continued learning where illness is resulting in absences.

In some circumstances, the compulsory conciliation process may be used to help resolve issues that are causing a child not to attend school.

For more information, see the Information for Parents on compulsory conciliation on the Office of the Education Registrar’s website.

Further information about attendance

  • If you want your child to attend school but need help to do this, your child’s school would really like to talk to you about what help you need.
  • Schools have professional support staff who can support you and your child to improve school attendance.
  • Please contact your child’s school for more information.