IT IS still too early to tell if a new program is keeping at-risk teenagers in school, but it is a welcome concept, a local principal says.
The Navigator program - which links children with help to get them back to class - launched in Bendigo in January as the state government worked to halve absenteeism rates over 10 years.
It kicked into gear at a time when the average Bendigo student missed nearly a month of school each year.
Bendigo's year nine students alone averaged five weeks off school in 2017, while those in Maryborough missed nine, the latest Department of Education and Training data shows.
It could be hard for teachers to chase up some students who were constantly absent, even at schools which otherwise had high attendance rates, Crusoe College principal Brad Madden said.
"When teachers are chasing those children up there is only so much they can often do," he said.
Those children could benefit from the Navigator program, which linked them with case managers who worked with family, carers and schools to get them back to class, Mr Madden said.
Story continues below map.
Education minister James Merlino said it was one way the government was trying to cut down on students not coming to class, though he added that Victorian absentee rates were some of the lowest in Australia.
Schools have been required since 2018 to contact parents and carers on the day a student was unexpectedly absent.
Many schools use text message alerts and other technology to quickly draw parents' attention to unexpected absences, Marist College Bendigo principal Darren McGregor said.
Crusoe College uses a web portal to help parents explain any absences and download any work their children have missed, Mr Madden said.
"The main thing we do is to communicate with parents so that they are consistently aware of the fact that kids are needed at school - and their learning is impacted if they miss a day," he said.
Related: Glitches plague NAPLAN online system
However, there would always be years when schools' attendance levels would rise or fall unexpectedly, Mr Madden said.
"You can get people who get ill or can have things like the flu passed around the class," Mr Madden said.
"A couple of people will be away. Then they get back and their friends get it."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.