Hon Elizabeth Constable MA(Syd) DipEd(UNE) MEd(Harvard) PhD(UWA) MLA

Hon Elizabeth Constable MA(Syd) DipEd(UNE) MEd(Harvard) PhD(UWA) MLA

Former Minister for Education

Parents must support school attendance

3/02/2012 12:00 AM
  • Minister calls on parents and carers to get children to school
  • Communities must support school programs to make a difference

Education Minister Liz Constable said parents and carers must do much more to get their children to school after 2011 attendance figures showed too many students were still regularly missing public schooling.


Writing in today’s The West Australian, Dr Constable said that, despite concerted efforts by the State Government, principals and teachers to encourage regular school attendance, data continued to show that while some schools were making progress, overall attendance rates were static despite some individual schools showing gains. 


Aboriginal student attendance was still of particular concern.


The Minister said parents, students, businesses, schools and the wider community needed to work together to improve the overall student attendance rate which remained stable at 90.93 per cent, and the Aboriginal student attendance rate of only 77.25 per cent.


“I am calling on all parents and communities to join with us as we try to lift school attendance rates,” she said.


“The schools with supportive communities, and parents who realise the real benefits of schooling for their children, are those where poor attendance records can be turned around.”


Dr Constable said, despite the overall lack of improvement, initiatives developed by some schools to boost student attendance were beginning to show results.


Visiting Yule Brook College in Maddington, which had been using positive reinforcement to improve attendance of its students, the Minister said all schools needed to look at their own student populations to examine how best to get students back to school.


“We know students who have poor attendance are disadvantaged severely in their future education and career prospects,” she said.


“When I launched the State Government’s Better Attendance, Brighter Futures strategy, I asked schools to implement local solutions to solve attendance problems with their communities.


“For example, after noticing that the regular attendance of girls was about half that of boys, Yule Brook College began a ‘Girls Academy’, which includes resilience and personal development programs.  It has helped to nearly double the number of girls regularly attending school.


“Through the Clontarf Foundation, the Yule Brook Football Academy encourages Aboriginal boys to attend school with incentives such as outings, camps and football matches, and the school has worked hard to foster strong connections with families and encourage regular parent contact.


“These are innovative examples of a school which is working hard to get students to school but needs many more parents on board to help bring overall attendance up to an acceptable level.”


Dr Constable said a number of schools had also formed partnerships with local businesses to ensure they do not serve students during school time.


The Minister congratulated schools that had achieved notable improvements in student attendance in 2011.


“I am particularly pleased that 28 schools with 20 Aboriginal students or more achieved an Aboriginal student attendance rate of 90 per cent or higher,” she said.


“By working closely with disengaged Aboriginal students and their parents, Albany Primary School improved attendance of its Aboriginal students by nearly nine per cent; and Bertram, Curtin and Woodbridge primary schools all had improvements of more than five per cent.


“This shows what can be done but for too many schools this remains an elusive target and it requires support from parents all across WA to make sure students do not continue to miss out on their education.”


       Fact File

  • Appendix 1 - 2011 attendance data
  • Appendix 2 - WA public school attendance information

Minister's office - 6552 5700