National Report on Schooling in Australia 2009

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education

7.2 Attendance

The student attendance data collection is in a transitional phase until all jurisdictions and sectors have the capacity to report their data using an agreed standard. All States and Territories and the non-government sectors are collaborating to standardise the collections. However, because the definitions and methodologies used by jurisdictions and sectors to collect the 2009 (and previous years) data are not uniform, accurate comparisons between jurisdictions and sectors cannot currently be made. They can, however, be compared within a jurisdiction over time.
 
Care should be exercised in relation to the data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, particularly due to the small population size in some jurisdictions, as the percentages may represent attendance at school by a small number of students.
Tables 54, 55 and 56 in the Additional Statistics section of this report show 2009 student attendance data by:
  • Indigenous status

  • school sector

  • State and Territory

  • year level.

Tables 54, 55 and 56 depict data for the government, Catholic and independent sectors respectively. The comments below for each sector refer to the data in these tables and the corresponding tables in the 2007 and 2008 publications of the National Report on Schooling in Australia. The comments should be read in conjunction with these tables and with the Explanatory notes for the 2009 student attendance data.
 
Student attendance data by school sector, State and Territory, year level and sex are shown in Tables 15–17 in the Additional Statistics section of this report and are discussed in Student engagement – attendance in this report.
Key Performance Measure (KPM) 7 (b) is defined as:
The number of actual full-time equivalent student-days attended by full-time students in Years 1 to 10 as a percentage of the total number of possible student-days attended over the period.

Government school sector

There are consistent patterns within the attendance data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous students counted during the collection period. Attendance rates remained relatively consistent over each grade/year level for the three-year period 2007–2009. During this period Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander attendance rates did not equal or exceed those of non-Indigenous students in any year level. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Years 1–6 in Tasmanian government schools maintained attendance rates consistently at or above 90%.
 
For the 2007–09 period, non-Indigenous student attendance in government schools in all States and Territories was consistently at or above 90% for Years 1–7. A consistent attendance pattern for the three-year period, of at or above 80%, is apparent for Years 1–6 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in government schools with the exception of the Northern Territory and one year level only in Western Australia. This attendance pattern is also noted for students in government schools in Years 7–8 in New South Wales and Queensland, Years 7–10 in Victoria, Year 7 in South Australia and Western Australia and Years 7–9 in Tasmania.
 
In the Northern Territory some increases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student attendance were observed in government schools over the three years for primary school students, whilst in Years 7 to 10 this trend was somewhat reversed.
For the 2009 period the percentage differences between the attendance rates of non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students for Years 1–6 were up to 22 points; Years 7–10 were up to 24 percentage points. The highest percentage point difference was for Year 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Western Australia and the smallest difference was for Years 1–6 in Tasmanian government schools where the difference did not exceed three percentage points for any year level.
 
In 2009 across Years 1–7, NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania recorded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander attendance at or above 85%; South Australia and Western Australia were at or above 80%. In the Northern Territory the rate was at or above 70%. Attendance in the Australian Capital Territory was at or above 85% for Years 1–6.

Catholic school sector

The data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Catholic schools do not present a consistent pattern. The attendance rate was at or above 85% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in New South Wales and Tasmania for Years 1–10, in Queensland for Years 1–9 and in South Australia for Years 1–7. This attendance rate is noted for the 2009 collection period in the Australian Capital Territory in Year 1 and Years 3–10.
 
For non-Indigenous students there are consistent patterns within the attendance data for Catholic schools during the collection period. In general, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student attendance did not equal or exceed non-Indigenous student attendance in Catholic schools, with some exceptions in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
There is a consistent attendance pattern for non-Indigenous students for the three-year period of data, of at or above 90%, with the exception of random years/grades in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. For the 2009 collection period in Catholic schools the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student attendance rate in Tasmania for Years 1–10 and South Australia for Years 1–7 was at or above 90%. This attendance rate is also represented in the data for Australian Capital Territory Years 5, 6 and 10.
 
Since the 2007 attendance collection period a change in attendance pattern emerged for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Victoria. The 2009 attendance data shows Years 1–6 were consistently represented at or above 89%, with Years 7–10 represented at or above 85%. This pattern varied for the Northern Territory where for the same period attendance rates decreased.
 
There were irregular attendance rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Western Australia. For the 2009 collection period student attendance rates ranged from 69% in Year 3 to 85% in Year 8.
 
For the 2009 period the percentage differences between the attendance rates of non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students for Years 1–6 were up to 25 points; for Years 7–10 the differences were up to 21 percentage points. The highest percentage point difference was for Year 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Western Australia. There were a number of States where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were at or above the attendance rates for non-Indigenous students.
 
In 2009 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across Years 1–10, South Australia with the exception of only one year level and Tasmania recorded attendance at or above 90%; New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland recorded attendance at or above 85% and the Australian Capital Territory with the exception of only one year level recorded attendance at or above 80%. Years 1–10 in Western Australia with the exception of only one year level were at or above 70% and in the Northern Territory at or above 66%.

Independent school sector

For a majority of States and Territories the data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in independent schools did not present a consistent pattern. It should be noted however for the three-year period 2007–2009 all year levels in Tasmanian independent schools showed a consistent pattern of attendance. This was also observed for Years 1–8 in New South Wales.
 
In the 2007–09 period Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Years 1–10 attendance rates did not equal or exceed those of non-Indigenous students in any year level, with some exceptions in Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
 
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the attendance rate was at or above 80% for Years 1–10 in Tasmania, for Years 1–9 in New South Wales, for Years 1–8 in South Australia and for Years 1–6 in the Australian Capital Territory. This attendance rate was apparent for the 2009 collection period in Years 1–10 in Queensland and Victoria, Years 1–2 and Years 4–9 in Western Australia and Years 7–10 in the Northern Territory.
 
For the 2007–09 period, non-Indigenous student attendance in independent schools in all States and Territories with the exception of some year levels in the Northern Territory were consistently at or above 90% for Years 1–10.
 
For the 2009 period the percentage differences between the attendance rates of non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students for Years 1–6 were generally up to 17 points with the exception of the Northern Territory; for Years 7–10 these differences were up to 25 percentage points. The highest percentage point difference was for Year 1 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the Northern Territory. In some States and Territories for some year levels the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student attendance rates were at or above the attendance rates for non-Indigenous students.
In 2009 Tasmania recorded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander attendance across Years 1–10 at or above 90%; New South Wales and South Australia for Years 1–8 recorded at or above 85%. In Western Australia Years 1–10 with the exception of only one year level, the Australian Capital Territory with exception of two year levels, Victoria and Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander attendance rates were at or above 80%. In the Northern Territory Years 2–6 were at or above 60% and Years 7–10 were at or above 80%.