Students attending school regularly
What We Have Found
The percentage of students attending school regularly has not significantly changed since 2011, and remains substantially lower among Māori and Pasifika students.
Date Updated: June 2017
The percentage of students who have attended more than 90% of Term 2, where time is measured in half-days.
Why This Is Important
Students who are absent from class have an increased risk of disengagement from the education system.
Sustained absence affects educational achievement and can lead to significantly diminished opportunities later in life. A New Zealand study (Hughes, 1999) found student attendance during Year 11 to be one of the most significant variables influencing student achievement in senior secondary school. Furthermore, students with low attendance and lower reading achievement had the highest risks for adverse outcomes. Longitudinal studies of Christchurch and Dunedin children have found absence to be a strong predictor of violence later in life, delinquency, substance abuse, suicidal risk, unemployment and early parenting.
A 2001 report from the UK Office of Standards in Education noted that a focus on absence alone is insufficient to sustain changes in student attendance. It found that strategies that have effectively improved attendance and behaviour in English schools have been incorporated in conjunction with efforts to raise achievement.
How We Are Going
In 2016, the percentage of students attending school regularly was 67.2%, a decrease of 2.3 percentage points from 2015. The 2016 percentage was similar to the previous five years, which ranged from 66.3% up to 69.5%.
Figure 1: Students attending regularly, Term 2
Gender and Year Level
The percentage of students attending regularly increases from Year 1 to Year 6 and then tends to fall through intermediate and secondary years.
There is no obvious gender difference in students attending regularly from Years 1 to 9; however a noticeable difference starts to emerge in secondary schooling. In secondary schooling females have lower attendance rates than males. This difference is largest in Year 13 where 43.5% of female students attend regularly compared to 49.9% of male students.
These trends have been consistent since the Term 2 data collection began in 2011.
Figure 2: Students attending school regularly, by gender, and year level, Term 2, 2016
- Students with missing year levels have been excluded.
- Year 13 includes students in years 13, 14 and 15.
Ethnicity is a significant factor with regard to students attending school regularly. The percentages of Māori (54.7%) and Pasifika (57.2%) students attending school regularly are significantly lower than that of European/Pākehā (70.5%) and Asian (77.0%) students. Asian students have the highest proportion of students attending school regularly.
Figure 3: Students attending school regularly, by ethnicity, Term 2, 2016
- This data uses total response ethnicity; students who identified in more than one ethnic group have been counted in each group, but only once in "Total".
- MELAA stands for Middle Eastern/Latin America/African.
A school's decile indicates the extent to which the school draws its students from low socio-economic communities. Decile 1 schools are the 10% of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic communities, whereas decile 10 is the 10% of schools with the lowest proportion of these students.
There is a correlation between school socio-economic mix and the rate of student attendance. In general, as school decile increases so does the percentage of students attending school regularly. Just over 74% of students at decile 10 schools attend school regularly compared to 52.9% of students at decile 1 schools.
Figure 4: Students attending school regularly, by school decile, Term 2, 2016
The Otago (71.7%) and Tasman (70.9%) regional council areas had the highest percentage of students attending school regularly, while the Gisborne (55.7%) and Northland (55.9%) regional council areas had the lowest.
Figure 5: Students attending school regularly, by regional council, Term 2, 2016
The Ministry of Education has established an Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme to systematically identify, evaluate, analyse, synthesise and make accessible, relevant evidence linked to a range of learner outcomes. Evidence about what works for this indicator can be found in:
- Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis . Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- Biddulph, F., Biddulph, J. and Biddulph, C. (2003). The Complexity of Community and Family Influences on Children's Achievement in New Zealand: Best Evidence Synthesis Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- Cosgrave, R., Bishop, F. and Bennie, N (2003). Attendance and Absences in New Zealand Schools. Wellington, Ministry of Education.
- Fergusson, D., Lynskey, M. and Horwood, L.J. (1995). Truancy in adolescence. NZJLS, 30(1), 25-37.
- Hughes, D., Lauder, H., Robinson, T., Simiyu, I., Watson, S., Strathdee, R. and Hamlin, J. (1999). Do Schools Make a Difference?: Hierarchical Linear Modelling of School Certificate Results in 23 Schools: The Smithfield Project, Phase Three: Eighth Report to the Ministry of Education. Wellington.
- Martin, M.O., Mullis, I.V.S. and Chrostowski, S.J. (Eds.) (2004). TIMSS 2003 Technical Report. Chestnut Hill, MA: International Study Center, Boston College.
- Martin, M.O., Mullis, I.V.S., Gonzalez, E.J. and Chrostowski, S.J. (2004). TIMSS 2003 International Science Report: Findings from IEA's Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study at the Fourth and Eighth Grades. Chestnut Hill, MA: International Study Center, Boston College. McAlpine, D., Burke, R., Walker, R. and McIlroy, A. (1998). Evaluation of the 1996/1997 District Truancy Services. Palmerston North, Palmerston North Assessment Services
- Ministry of Education (2017). Attendance in New Zealand Schools, Term 2, 2016. Wellington, Ministry of Education.
- UK Office of Standards in Education, (2001). Improving Attendance and Behaviour in Secondary Schools: Strategies to Promote Educational Inclusion. London, Office for Standards in Education.
Where To Find Out More
For more publication-related information, please email the: Information Officer Mailbox