Assessing Absences and Non-School Days

When calculating your school’s student attendance data you will need to know the School Days in a Reference Period and have information on enrolment and Attendance Days for each student.

The School Days in Reference Period are the amount of days a school was open to conduct lessons during Semester 1 or Term 3. Non-school days should not be included in the School Days in a Reference Period and include:

  • Unexpected temporary school closure; For example, schools closed due to danger from bushfires in QLD in September 2019.
  • Strike action/industrial action;
  • All classes cancelled for the day;
  • Grade specific non-school days (for example, pupil-free days and moderation days);
  • Natural disaster/event where students are unable to travel to school and school is closed; For example schools closed in Townsville due to 2019 flood.
  • Public holidays;
  • Religious holidays; and
  • Pupil-free days.

Please Note: For most schools there are typically 80 - 110 school days in Semester 1 and 40 - 60 school days in Term 3.

Possible School Days for a Student

The number of days a student is enrolled in a campus/location is used to calculate the Possible School Days a student could have attended a campus/location during a reference period (Semester 1 or Term 3). In many instances the Possible School Days for a student will be the same as the School Days in Reference Period (unless a student enrolled late, left the school during a reference period, or changed from full-time to part-time). For this collection Attendance Days refers to the number of days a student was recorded as being in attendance at school. The Assessing Student Absences table below includes a comprehensive list to aid in assessing student absences; this is important in determining both Possible School Days and School Days in Reference Period for a student/cohort.

Assessing Student Absences

General description of incidents/absences
Treatment of absence
Absent / Present / N/A
Include in Possible School Days Count
Yes / No

A: Unexplained/unauthorised absences

Absences where the school does not receive any explanation, or where the reason for absence is considered unacceptable. Includes absences such as:
  • Truancy
  • Unexplained
  • Without parent/guardian approval
  • Unacceptable explanations as determined by the school
Absent Yes

B: Religious/cultural absences

Approved/notified absences due to recognised religious or ceremonial activity
Absent Yes

C: Parent-approved absences

Includes absences such as:
  • Family event
  • Extended holidays
Absent Yes

D: Medical

Approved/notified absences due to medical reasons. Includes absences such as:
  • Illness
  • External medical appointment with health care professionals (including counselling)
Absent Yes

E: Disciplinary (Out-of-school)

Disciplinary action that is not on school grounds. Includes suspensions but excludes internal suspensions (see F).
Absent Yes

F: Disciplinary (In-school)

Disciplinary action that is on school grounds. Includes internal suspensions
Present Yes

G: Behavioural reasons

Behavioural absences (e.g. disengagement). Excludes disciplinary action (see E or F).
Absent Yes

H: Bereavement

Approved/notified absences due to bereavement.
Includes absences such as:
  • Funeral
  • Personal Bereavement
Absent Yes

I: School closed

School closed for religious, public or other holiday.
Includes absences such as:
  • Unexpected temporary school closure
  • Strike action/industrial action
  • School unavailable
  • School choice
  • Individual school calendars
  • All classes cancelled for the day
N/A No

J: Natural disaster/event

Natural disaster/event where students are unable to travel to school and school is closed.
N/A No

K: Approved educational absence

Attendance at an approved/sanctioned school event where the student is not required to attend school. Includes absences such as:
  • Excursions
  • Flexible timetable
  • Attending another school
  • Vocational Education Training (VET) activities
Present Yes

L: Work experience programs

Approved participation in/attendance at work experience related programs.  School is responsible for students on these programs.
NSSC states that students’ time spent on work experience programs, as part of the school curriculum or program, should be treated as time in school.
Present Yes

M: Employment

Short-term employment. School is not responsible for students during this period; however, student remains officially enrolled.
Absent Yes

N: Explained other absence

Absences from school due to acceptable reasons, other than any of those listed in this table.
Absent Yes

O: Exemptions

Approved exemptions such as certificate of exemptions, only for exceptional circumstances.  Reasons for exemptions must not conflict with other descriptions in this table.
Includes approved short-term employment for NSW and SA such as employment in the entertainment industry where approval and exemption from class has been given by the appropriate school personnel.
Note: Due to the low number of absences in this category, some jurisdictions may choose to include these absences as possible school days.  Although this is not recommended, this has minimal impact to the national and jurisdictional attendance rate.
N/A No

P: 1       Detention/Juvenile Justice/Suspension/Immigration Detention Centres – notified

School is notified that student is at the relevant centre. See P: 2 for notified absences. WA: Student is enrolled in main school but is part of Immigration Detention Centre.

P: 2      Detention/Juvenile Justice/Suspension/Immigration Detention Centres –  not notified

If school is not notified, then the student would be absent for ‘unexplained/unauthorised’ reasons.















Q: Behaviour centre

Absences of students who are moved to a behaviour centre, but who nevertheless remain enrolled in their main school.  All data are attributed back to main school
Absent Yes

R: Tutorial Centres

Absences at the main school for students who are moved to a tutorial centre but who nevertheless remain enrolled in their main school
Present Yes

S: Expelled

Student is no longer enrolled at the school
N/A Include until date of expulsion

T: Student leaves school mid term

Student is no longer enrolled at the school by choice


  • If the student/parents formally notify the school then enrolment ends on the last day of enrolment
  • If there is no notification, and the student is away for 6 school weeks, the student is then deemed to have left school on the first day of the absence.
NA (also see notes at left) Included for period enrolled

If you require further assistance with assessing student absences or determining  non-school days, please contact us on, or on 1800 677 027 (Option 5).

Last modified on Thursday 30 January 2020 [601|15108]