Many parents will have heard of the research of John Hattie. He is a New Zealand born and now Melbourne based professor of education who came to prominence with his book Visible Learning for Teachers. In this book, he presented a synthesis of meta-analyses of the effect of different factors on educational outcomes. This research is periodically updated and in 2009 Hattie stated that “Teacher quality is the single most important in-school factor influencing student achievement.” However, the amount of time a student attends in the classroom correlates to the benefits received. To gain the benefit, a student must routinely attend school. Whilst the attendance rates of students in Australia generally and at Girls Grammar particularly are high, it is important to look at the effects of nonattendance.
It may seem obvious to state, but the best place to learn is in a school environment with engaged peers and teachers. We learnt a lot during online lessons in 2020. Some students thrived where others struggled. Those struggles were both academic and social. School aged children need socialisation not only for mental health and wellbeing but also to learn and hone the skills required for life. The correlation between absence and achievement is consistently negative and declines in achievement are evident with any level of absence. Although both authorised and smaller amounts of absence are associated with only small declines in achievement, all absences count, and the impact of absence increases with the number of absences (Hancock et al., 2013). Additionally, the effects of absences are cumulative meaning that attendance in Year 2 (for example) will continue to have effects all the way through to Senior Schooling.
At Girls Grammar, we have an expectation that students attend until the last day of each term. We continue with curriculum until the last class of the last day each term. For students in the middle school, we have already begun Term 2 work. Students in Year 11 and 12 are continuing through Units 1 and 3 respectively. Next Thursday we will be holding our annual cross-country event. Whilst there will be no curriculum, nonattendance would mean students would miss the important socialisation that such events bring.
These are the reasons we ask for students to maintain attendance through to the last day of each term. We appreciate the parental support we receive in upholding that message to our girls.
Dr John Fry
Deputy Principal - Studies
Hancock, K. J., Shepherd, C. C. J., Lawrence, D., & Zubrick, S. R. (2013). Student attendance and educational outcomes: Every day counts. Report for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra. https://doi. org/10.13140/2.1.4956.6728
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of 800+ meta-analyses on achievement. London: Routledge.