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De La Salle Brother hails success of SMS truant monitoring

Sydney's De La Salle Bankstown Principal, Br Ambrose Payne, has said the number of unexplained student absences has dropped by half within two weeks of the installation of a system of sending mobile phone text messages to parents of absent students.

Parents receive a text message alert when their their children skip school. In NSW, 35 high schools, including 17 non-government, have installed the program during the past six months.

The system runs in tandem with a 24-hour hotline which parents can SMS or phone to inform the school their child will not be at school the next day.

Attendance rolls are taken each morning and at 10:00 am the system compares the attendance data with the hotline data. If there are any discrepancies, the system sends an automatic SMS message to the phone of the absent student's parents.

Br Payne said the system was particularly useful because it was automated.

"It's non-intrusive, it doesn't require any response from parents but it gives them the opportunity to send a message back to the school or to question their child," he said. "The other great advantage is its immediacy. Normally we'd have to wait to see if the students bring in notes to explain the absence. This is much quicker."

Br Payne said parents had welcomed the initiative, with about 80% actively participating in the scheme.

The program, which is multi-lingual, also sends messages to parents if their child is given a detention, is late for school or skips classes.

'Your child is missing' (Daily Telegraph 13/12/04)

La Salle Catholic College, Bankstown

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13 Dec 2004