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Evaluation of the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint - final report (PDF, 2MB)

Authors: Andrew Griffiths, Ian Watkins, Francis Matthew-Simmons, Sasindu Gamage

Evaluator company/business: Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation

Year: 2020

URL or PDF: Evaluation of the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint

Summary: This final evaluation report examines the implementation and impact of actions contained in the Blueprint. It also examines important education performance indicators to assess any changes in the magnitude of the gaps between rural and remote students and metropolitan students since the launch of the Blueprint. We collected a range of qualitative and quantiative data sources to evaluate the Blueprint including interviews, surveys and administrative data. This evaluation has found that:

  • Gaps in NAPLAN scores and school attendance between rural and remote students and metropolitan students have not reduced since the introduction of the blueprint. The gaps between remote students and metropolitan students have narrowed on Best Start and retention to Year 12.
  • The 50% rental subsidy introduced at some fourpoint schools had no meaningful impact on teacher retention.
Published in Evaluation repository

Government school student attendance bulletin (PDF, 1MB)

This Government school student attendance bulletin (PDF, 1MB) presents analysis of attendance rates at NSW government schools.

Top 5 findings

• Attendance rates fell slightly in 2019.
• Attendance rates are lower in secondary grades than in primary grades.
• Attendance is lowest on Fridays.
• 72.6% of students attended 90% or more of the time, 25.8% attended 98% or more.
• Days lost through approved leave accounted for the highest proportion of explained.


Note: In 2018, NSW government schools implemented the national standards for student attendance data reporting. This resulted in a fall in attendance rates for most schools due to the inclusion of partial absences and accounting for student mobility in the calculation. Data for 2018 is not directly comparable with earlier years.

This Government school student attendance bulletin (PDF, 387kB) presents analysis of attendance rates at NSW government schools from 2008 to 2018. Results are presented by education level, Aboriginal status, remoteness and gender. The bulletin includes a new measure 'proportion of students attending 90% or more of the time' and assesses the impact of implementing national standards on NSW government schools' attendance rates.

 2017 attendance bulletin (PDF, 408kB)Download the 2017 attendance bulletin (PDF, 408kB). 


Student attendance has been demonstrated to be linked to student academic outcomes, although the nature of the link is complex. CESE’s Government School Student Attendance 2017 (Semester 1) bulletin summarises attendance rates by:
• student level of education
• remoteness
• Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students
• scholastic year and gender.


Main findings 

CESE’s analysis of Semester 1 2017 attendance data indicates that the average attendance rate for NSW government schools was 92.1 per cent, but varied widely across a number of contextual factors. 

Attendance rate and student level of education
Primary school students’ attendance rates were, on average, 4.4 percentage points higher than secondary school students’ attendance rates. Attendance rates decreased at a slower rate in primary years (drop of 1 percentage point from Kindergarten to Year 6), than in secondary years (5 percentage points decrease between years 7 and 10).
Attendance rate and remoteness
Attendance rates were lower for students in remote and very remote schools compared to attendance rates at schools in major cities - averaging 85.6 per cent in remote and very remote areas, compared to 92.7 per cent in major cities.

Attendance rate and Aboriginal students 

The gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students’ attendance rate has decreased 0.7 percentage points since 2011. In 2017, the average attendance rate for Aboriginal students was 86.2 per cent and for non-Aboriginal students was 92.6 per cent. This gap was smaller for primary students (4.1 percentage points) than secondary students (10.1 percentage points). The average attendance rate for Aboriginal students at remote and very remote schools has increased by 4.3 percentage points since 2006.


Implications for educators

Recording and monitoring student attendance allows educators to identify students who have low attendance, and are at risk of falling behind. Tracking student attendance is also a legislative requirement and part of every school’s duty of care. Attendance data is important because it provides a measure of students’ engagement – which is critical for evaluating school and student performance.


For more information

To access data on NSW government school student attendance, visit the NSW Education Data Hub.


The summary on this page is also available as a PDF. Download the 2017 attendance summary (PDF, 215kB)

 Clontarf Rpt

Authors: Katrina Yu, Duncan Rintoul, Steven Hao, Ian Watkins, Wai-Yin Wan

Evaluator company/business: Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, NSW Department of Education

Year: 2017

URL or PDF: Download the Evaluation of the NSW Clontarf Academies Program 2017 (PDF, 2MB)

Summary: This report presents the findings of CESE's evaluation of the Clontarf Academies program, which currently operates in 25 schools across NSW. The scope covers the 12 Academies established before 2016, with a focus on the seven established in 2012. This evaluation draws on administrative data on school attendance, retention, suspensions, NAPLAN participation, post-school outcomes and contact with the criminal justice system, as well as stakeholder interviews, site visits and a survey of Clontarf participants. The evaluation has three components: a process evaluation, an outcome evaluation and an economic evaluation.

Published in Evaluation repository

2017 engagment NAPLAN thumbnail 
Research shows the benefit of effective teaching and student engagement. The Improving high school engagement learning curve (PDF, 1.6MB) uses data from the NSW Tell Them From Me student surveys in 2013 and 2015 to look at how students' engagement, performance and experience of classroom practices in Year 7 affect their engagement and performance in Year 9.

Learn more about the Tell Them From Me surveys.


Summary of strategies to improve engagement, effective teaching practices and achievement

Based on the modelling work in this publication, the following summarises the strategies that the research evidence identifies as most effective for improving engagement and achievement in Years 7-9. You can also download these strategies as a PDF (115kB)

Strategies to encourage positive behaviour

  • Create a positive learning environment with well managed classrooms.
  • Adopt teaching strategies that incorporate positive discipline techniques to enable students to develop their own strategies for self-discipline.
  • Actively engage students and promote positive behaviour rather than focussing only on reactive discipline strategies such as punishment.
  • Develop structure and routines for the classroom and explicitly teach these through discussion and practice.
  • Foster positive relationships between teachers and students and among peers.
  • Establish and maintain clear expectations and rules for student behaviour in the classroom and at school.
  • Reinforce appropriate behaviour and respond consistently to misbehaviour.
  • Adopt school-wide positive behaviour support programs that communicate and teach rules (and reward students for following them).
  • Encourage social and emotional learning that promotes self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
  • Use these strategies in conjunction with policies that recognise the need to manage inappropriate student behaviour when it impacts significantly on learning.

Strategies to improve attendance

  • Set expectations for attendance and establish improvement goals.
  • Analyse attendance rates to monitor trends and patterns in the data.
  • Listen to students’ perspectives: students’ views on their reasons for non-attendance may give insight into ways to improve school attendance.
  • Promote social and emotional engagement, ensuring students feel connected to school and have a positive sense of belonging and connection with others.
  • Promote positive relationships with teachers with a well-structured learning environment: students should believe that their teachers care about them and will have high, clear and fair expectations of them.
  • Increase collaboration with families, for instance, through involving parents in school decision-making; increasing parental participation in classroom
    activities; and establishing a contact person at school for family members to communicate and work with.

Strategies to increase interest and motivation

  • Give students feedback on their work and their level of effort, and help them develop their own strategies for learning.
  • Encourage students to believe they can perform a task; this will increase their levels of effort and persistence.
  • Provide students with opportunities to set goals for performance improvements that are achievable and worthwhile
  • Adopt approaches that build students’ sense of autonomy, for example, listening to students; asking questions and responding to questions; acknowledging students’ perspectives; and giving them opportunities to work though problems on their own, when they have a sufficient knowledge base.

    Strategies to promote high expectations

  • Be clear about what is expected of students and follow-up on expectations.
  • Make it clear to all students that they must work hard to succeed.
  • Encourage students to do better, for instance, through personal best goal setting (that is, a student’s attempt to improve on or match his/her previous best standard of performance).
  • Provide feedback that explicitly identifies the next learning steps and the skills necessary to improve.
  • Expect homework to be done on time.

Effective teaching practices

  • Organise lessons well.
  • Tell students what they will be learning and be clear about the purpose of tasks.
  • Pay particular attention to how important ideas are taught and help students understand their significance.
  • Require students to demonstrate mastery, especially of difficult ideas.
  • Allow students to ask questions, ensuring responses are clear and have been understood.
  • Ensure students are given time to engage with the learning process and receive clear and timely feedback.
  • Encourage positive relationships between teachers and students for engagement and learning, with a balance between academic and social engagement.
Published in Research report

2016 statistical bulletin thumb

The 2016 schools and students statistical bulletin (PDF, 1MB) presents tables and charts about NSW schools and students. Data is from the census of both government and non-government students, undertaken in August 2016.

2016 attendance thumb

The 2016 attendance bulletin (PDF, 370kB) presents analysis of attendance data at NSW government schools from 2006 to 2016. Results are presented for primary and secondary students. Attendance rates are also presented for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, remoteness, and the Family Occupation and Employment Index (FOEI) of schools.

stats bulletin 2015 thumb

The 2015 schools and students statistical bulletin (PDF, 1.7MB) presents tables and charts about NSW schools and students. Data is from the census of both government and non-government students, undertaken in August 2015.

Key findings from the NSW Long Day Care Survey 2015 (PDF, 2.3MB)

Key findings from the NSW Long Day Care Survey 2015 (PDF, 2.3MB) presents key findings from a survey of NSW long day care centres, conducted in late 2015 by the Social Research Centre on behalf of the NSW Department of Education. It provides information on enrolment, attendance, vacancy rates, teacher qualifications and the use of the transition to school statement. 

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