Attendance at school

Compulsory school age means that children must be enrolled in and attending school from when they turn 6 until they turn 16.

Compulsory education age means that students aged 16 must be in an approved learning program until they turn 17.

Regular attendance at school is important to a child's learning and development so they get the most from their education.

Ensuring regular attendance at preschool and school is a shared responsibility between parents or caregivers, preschools and schools.

Approved learning programs

  • Traditional secondary school, including studying towards:
    • SACE (South Australia Certificate of Education)
    • International Baccalaureate (IB)
    • Steiner Education (Waldorf Schools) Secondary Certificate
  • Technical and further education (TAFE) courses or accredited courses offered by registered training organisations
  • Apprenticeships or traineeships
  • University degrees, diplomas or other university award courses
  • Other programs authorised by the Minister for Education
  • A combination of the above.

Where the young person has achieved a SACE or other qualification, under an approved learning program, there is no compulsion for them to continue to participate past the age of 16.

For vocational education qualifications, Certificate II is considered sufficient, as it provides a defined qualification which leads into further vocational education, such as Certificate III, which could be completed through a registered training organisation.

When it's acceptable for children to be absent

Situations where it is acceptable for a child to miss school include times when the:

  • child is too sick to leave the house
  • child has an infectious illness such as gastroenteritis, chicken pox or measles
  • child needs to attend medical or dental appointments that could not be made out of school hours
  • school principal is provided with a genuine reason that prevents the child attending school
  • child has been granted an exemption from school
  • child has been sent home or suspended from school for disciplinary reasons.

If a student is absent due to reported illness for three or more consecutive days the principal can ask for a medical certificate.

Informing school about your child's absence

You need to notify the school of your child's absence and the reason for it. If you can’t do this in advance, send a text message or phone on the day, or send a note covering the days missed when your child returns.

Related information

On this site

Other websites

Attendance - Department for Education


Education Act 1972

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Page last updated 16 May 2019

Provided by:
Department for Education
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