One of the most important things you can do to ensure the future of your children is to make sure your children attend school. Kids normally miss school occasionally but when it becomes a pattern, it affects their learning.
Chronic absenteeism occurs when children are absent from school for more than 15-18 days in a year or 10 percent of the time. It is detrimental at any age. When young children are absent from school – even for two days a month- they are negatively affected. They miss the opportunity to build a strong foundation in reading and maths.

Studies show that low attendance in the later years of school is a good indicator that students will drop out of school. Researchers from our community partner, The Smith Family found that found those who were regularly absent from school in Year 7 had a less than 50 percent chance of finishing Year 12. They also found that Year 9 students who often skip school have only a 35 percent chance of completing their studies.

So let’s take a look at some of the consequences that children face when they stay away from school:

1. Low academic and social skills

When children attend school they have the opportunity to build a strong foundation for academic and social success. This results in better life outcomes for them. If these skills are not developed, they will require extra help to catch up.

2. Low achievement
School attendance gives children a sense of achievement as they gain skills in reading, English and Maths.
School attendance and school achievement in English or Maths are closely related. According to The Smith Family study, a low achievement in English predicts low or decreasing school attendance. When children skip school often they are at the risk of lower academic performance which in turn affects future outcomes.

3. Dropping out of school
Children who are chronically absent from school in the later years are more likely not to finish school and their studies.

4. Limits future employment
Kids with a poor foundation in education experience poor life outcomes including future employment opportunities. Children who skip school and drop out of school in later years do not have the necessary skills required to access most types of training and university education in Australia. Thus, they face employment instability for extended periods of time and do not have the foundation to support a planned career growth.

5. Increases welfare dependency
Due to limited access to better-paying jobs and rewarding opportunities, young people are more dependent on welfare support.

6. Engage in delinquent behaviour
Research shows that kids who are more absent from school are likely to engage in destructive and delinquent behaviour. Various studies have also pointed at higher rates of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug use. Studies have also found a link between early school leavers and a greater likelihood of teen pregnancy.

7. Lack of social connectedness
Kids who attend school regularly develop structure and attain skills that help them throughout their lives. They also learn social skills and develop meaningful relationships with their peers. This helps them develop an understanding of social situations and how to engage in them. But when children are absent from school, they lose this opportunity. As a result, they are more likely to lack social connectedness with their community.

8. Poor health
Children who are absent from school often are at the risk of poor health – mentally and physically.
They also experience greater levels of depression and isolation and have lower levels of life expectancy.
The Smith Family report and previous research show us that Australian children from low socioeconomic backgrounds are at a greater risk of finishing school.

Although children from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to have poor educational outcomes from their first year of school, they can still meet key educational milestones. Students who start school on track can also fall behind over time. But young Australians at risk of not achieving their key milestones can improve their educational outcomes when they are provided with targeted and timely support.

This kind of support is provided by our programs. These programs improve outcomes for youth education and employment and are run in collaboration with our corporate partners and community partners including The Smith Family and Youth Opportunities.

Kain Foundation’s Northern Opportunities is one such project that offers scholarships and other support to students from six participating schools in the northern suburbs of Adelaide. Plus scholarship recipients are supported by corporate volunteers who guide them as their mentors. They also host career workshops and traineeships which help students improve their educational outcomes and employment opportunities.

Meena Azzollini