REVEALED: NSW schools where students miss TWO MONTHS of class
School attendance has plummeted at swathes of Sydney schools over the past decade, with some students missing one fifth of possible school days.
Principals say behaviour issues and violent students are increasingly keeping some students at home.
Data published by the Department of Education shows 1553 schools recorded a drop in average attendance last year when compared to 2011 while 254 schools recorded no change in attendance and 197 schools returned an increase in attendance.
At Punchbowl Boys High School average attendance has dropped by 11 per cent between 2011 and last year, with students attending 78.6 per cent of possible school days.
Students at Granville South School of the Performing Arts in western Sydney are attending an average of 78.5 per cent of school days, down nine per cent.
Secondary Principals' Council president Craig Petersen said he believed some students were missing school because they were afraid of violent students who had become harder to manage.
"In some cases we have an increased number or proportion of kids with problematic behaviours but we don't have increased staff with specialist expertise in managing them," he said.
"The increase in technology which we know is impacting on children's sleep patterns and behaviour, you have increasing substance abuse in some communities, so all of those things all have an impact."
But a NSW Education Department spokeswoman said there had been no reduction in support for school teachers.
"The access to behaviour specialists in schools has not changed," she said.
Mr Petersen said in other cases, parents were telling principals they simply cannot make their child get out of bed in the morning for school.
"You've got to go to school today, get out of bed (and the reply is) no you can't make me," he said.
"I have had conversations with parents who say, 'I don't know what to do, I can't get (my child) to get out of bed, I can't get them to go to school'."
The school with the best attendance was HSC powerhouse James Ruse Agricultural High School while the primary school with the best attendance was Cassilis Public School in the Hunter.
In Sydney's west Granville East and Auburn West public schools both recorded seven per cent fall in attendance between 2011 and last year.
In Sydney's northwest, Blacktown North Public School and Riverstone High both saw average attendance plummet by six per cent over the same period while Matraville Sports High in the city's east had attendance drop by eight per cent.
And in northern NSW, Gunnedah High's average attendance dropped by eight percentage points with students attending just 79.9 per cent of school days on average.
P and C Federation Central Coast president Sharryn Brownlee said school teachers did a fantastic job in some schools which had seen attendance drop, but warned highly academic subjects were failing to engage a large proportion of students.
You would be surprised about the children who don't come to school, sometimes it is middle of the road kids who just aren't engaged in school," she said.
"In the public space not all schools offer the subject choice, the vocational choice, not everyone is going to be an academic.
"It is bleedingly obvious in some ways but no one wants to focus on the curriculum in the classroom."
An Education Department spokeswoman said principals and staff are able to resolve the vast majority of attendance issues.
"If a student is absent without an explanation, school leaders undertake all reasonable measures to contact parents promptly," she said.
"If a range of school-based interventions have been unsuccessful in resolving attendance concerns, the principal can request support from the Home School Liaison Program. These officers work alongside school staff, the student and their family to improve attendance."
Originally published as REVEALED: NSW schools where students miss TWO MONTHS of class