YOUNG people in Bendigo are missing more school than the average Victorian student, with year nine students taking up to five weeks off in a year.
Students took an average 18.7 days off school in 2017 across the Bendigo area, the latest Department of Education and Training figures show.
The average number of days off has not fallen to fewer than 17 days in the past five years.
Year nine students had the most time away from class in greater Bendigo, with an average of 24.9 days off.
Year eight and 10 students also missed missed more than three weeks of school, on average.
Grade three students took the least with 14.1 days, followed by preps with 14.2.
Students across much of central Victoria missed more than the state average of 17.9 days in 2017.
Children in the Central Goldfields Shire missed the most school.
There, children missed an average six weeks of school, with year 10 students losing the most with 53.2 days.
The Maryborough Education Centre had already seen students take high numbers of days off when it encountered a "significant spike" in 2017, principal David Sutton said.
He wanted to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to one set of statistics and formed a school working group to delve into what was happening.
"It's so complex and there's myriad ways it gets measured. So we want to make sure we understand it, first and foremost," Mr Sutton said.
It was still too early to tell exactly how the school would tackle attendance rates, Mr Sutton said.
Low school attendance was often a symptom of other forces at play, perhaps at home or in the classroom, he said.
The solution would likely involve trying to help students find value and engage more in what they were learning.
"It could be that children who have literacy issues, or issues around anxiety, might feel work at school isn't particularly meeting their needs," Mr Sutton said.
"That's why we need to talk with students and families and begin a community conversation about it," Mr Sutton said.
"That is something we would like to look further into."
The school had already seen a drop in chronic attendance issues in 2018, even if it was still "too high", Mr Sutton said.
"There's a lot of positive work going on at this school," he said.
That included work experience programs and a program revamping school-based apprenticeships.
"We have very strong ties with our community. There is a hugely supportive community here in Maryborough for young people in school and we have highly dedicated and committed teachers," Mr Sutton said.
"So there is a lot of optimism in the school."
While student absences peaked across most of central Victoria in years 7 to 10, they largely improved by the final two years of school.
That was when students at Marist College Bendigo came to appreciate how much rigour was involved in Victorian Certificate of Education study, principal Darren McGregor said.
"They will come even when they are not well, whereas in years seven to 10 what we will find is parents think they are better off missing one day and getting better," he said.
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