Ballarat schools are seeing a massive drop in attendance as they struggle to keep students engaged post COVID.
Data released on the My School website reveals that Victorian secondary school attendance has plummeted to a record low with less than half of all students meeting benchmarks last year – a fall from three-quarters in 2019.
The benchmark is met when students attend 90% of classes or more.
It’s been highlighted that the trend is even being seen in leading high-fee schools such as Ballarat Grammar.
Ballarat Grammar’s attendance level fell by 45% from pre-pandemic levels of 91%.
In one of the more extreme drops recorded locally, Beaufort Secondary College has just 28% of students meeting the benchmark after being at 72% in 2019.
|School Name||Attendance level* 2019||Attendance level* 2022|
|Beaufort Secondary College||72%||28%|
|Ballarat high School||79%||47%|
|St Patrick’s College||67%||23%|
|Ballarat Clarendon College||74%||59%|
|Ballarat Christian College||62%||53%|
As per the Herald Sun, Monash University professor and clinical psychologist Nicole Rinehart said the pandemic had directly impacted student attendance rates.
“As a clinical psychologist who saw vulnerable children through the pandemic, I can absolutely say yes it has had an impact then and now,” she said.
“The impact is not over.”
The evidence has brought into focus the issue of school refusal – a phenomenon happening long before the pandemic.
Australian Catholic University senior lecturer in educational leadership and former principal Dr Paul Kidson said for some students, remote learning was a “safer and more comfortable” alternative.
Dr Kidson said kids who were refusing school shouldn’t be “pushed prematurely”.
A Ballarat Grammar spokesperson said its attendance levels were also affected by isolation rules, particularly for boarding students.