Governments, schools and communities throughout Australia are working to improve school attendance among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students using strategies such as incentive programs, improvement to literacy and numeracy skills, school-family partnerships, transport to school, attendance monitoring, ensuring that school is a welcoming place for Indigenous students, and programs that focus on non-academic achievement as a way of engaging students in school.

Currently, however, little is known about the effectiveness of these strategies and the key factors which underpin programs and strategies which are successful. The SCSEEC Successful School Attendance Strategies Evidence-based Project (the Project) was designed to fill this gap in the evidence by bringing together published data on effectiveness with the on- the-ground experiences of schools and communities who have been successful in improving the attendance of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

This report summarises the Project findings, and shows that schools which improved their attendance undertook four key steps. They all:

  • recognised the importance of attendance as an issue for the school
  • identified individual students for whom non-attendance is an issue
  • investigated and understood the reasons behind non-attendance
  • developed and implemented effective strategies to address those issues to enhance the likelihood that children and young people attend school regularly.

Linked to these steps, this report includes information and insights about:

  • the 4 key domains that can be barriers or enhancers to school attendance (school factors, family factors, student factors, community/structural factors)
  • 9 strategies with demonstrated effectiveness and the various ways in which schools implemented those strategies
  • lessons for developing and implementing strategies that are effective in improving the attendance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the long-term. These represent the key underpinning factors that the schools have said are essential to have in place before specific strategies can be implemented successfully
  • the 6 elements that the schools reported as being critical to successfully improving and maintaining attendance among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students because they address the factors underpinning non-attendance.

The report also includes information and feedback from the consultations about how this type of information could potentially be shared through the development of a dedicated school attendance 'one-stop-shop' website.