Each parent of a child who is of compulsory school age has the legal obligation to ensure their child is enrolled and attends a school, on every school day for the educational program in which the child is enrolled, unless the parent has a reasonable excuse.
A child should be enrolled in and attend school in the year that they turn compulsory school age (six years and six months).
Each parent of a young person in the compulsory participation phase has the legal obligation to ensure that the young person is participating full-time in an eligible option, unless the parent has a reasonable excuse.
Parents may be prosecuted if they do not fulfil their legal obligations in regard to enrolment and attendance of their child at school, or participation in an eligible option. An authorised officer from either a school or region can seek consent from their Regional Director to refer a case to the Queensland Police Service to consider prosecution. However there are a range of circumstances where the legal obligations of parents do not apply. For clarity, it is recommended that separate notices and General Briefing Notes are prepared for each individual child (or young person).
From time to time a student may be absent from their educational program. Parents comply with their compulsory schooling or compulsory participation obligation by providing a satisfactory reason for these absences, unless the student is an adult or it is not appropriate to contact the student’s parents, in which case an explanation should be sought directly from the student. Parents should provide a reason for a child’s absence either before or on the day of the absence, or as soon as practicable.
Early identification of students whose attendance is not regular is crucial to minimising student absences. Every Day Counts provides a five step process for improving school attendance. Schools must notify parents of an unexplained absence of their child as soon as practicable on the day of the student’s absence (allowing time for parents to respond prior to the end of the school day), with continued follow up as practicable with parents. Schools and regions may need to work closely with other agencies to support parents to meet their obligations in regard to the enrolment and attendance or participation of their child.
Prep is the first year of schooling in Queensland. While it is expected that students who are enrolled in Prep attend full-time, there is no legal obligation to do so where the student is below compulsory schooling age. Accordingly, the prosecution process does not apply to parents of students in Prep unless their children are of compulsory schooling age. Where there are attendance issues with Prep students, schools should emphasise the importance of attending Prep every school day through discussions with parents.
Schools should treat a student’s enrolment as having ended, and record it as such, only if one or more of the following circumstances arise:
- student has graduated
- student has no remaining allocation of semesters
- student has been excluded or their enrolment cancelled under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld)
- student has enrolled in another (state or non-state) school and the enrolment is not part of an approved flexible arrangement
- there is reasonable evidence that the student enrolled in another educational institution (e.g. TAFE) or with a Registered Training Organisation and this is equivalent to full-time schooling, and the student has ceased attending school. This does not apply to student enrolled in Youth Detention Education and Training Centres or students attending a hospital school.
- there is reasonable evidence that the student has left school to undertake a full-time apprenticeship or traineeship or, for compulsory participation phase students only, full-time employment
- student becomes registered for home education
- student has permanently moved interstate or overseas with no intention of returning
- parent (or student if they are independent) has told the school that the student’s enrolment has ended and the student ceases attending*. This does not apply to student who cease attending their school because they are in youth detention or attending a hospital school, or where conflicting instructions are given to the school by the parents**.
- student is deceased.
*Where a student has ceased to attend school and is not enrolled in another school, educational institution or with a Registered Training Organisation, and is not registered for home education (or undertaking full-time employment for a student in the compulsory participation phase), the region should pursue the failure to enrol process.
**In relation to Family Law disputes, where parents’ instructions to the school regarding the student ceasing to attend are conflicting, the school should not end the enrolment until one of the other circumstances above applies.
For principals in the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Doomadgee, Hopevale and Mossman Gorge additional processes apply in respect of failure to enrol or attend under section 41 of the Family Responsibilities Commission Act 2008 (Qld) (FRC Act).