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 Maori and Pasifika students.

Date Updated: August 2016

Indicator Description

The percentage of students who have attended more than 90% of Term 2.

Why This Is Important

Students who are absent from class have an increased risk of alienation 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, and anticipatory of delinquency, substance abuse, suicidal risk, unemployment and early parenting. There is conservable concern surrounding the links between truancy and crime.

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 2015, the percentage of students attending school regularly was 69.4%, an increase of 0.7 percentage points from 2014. The 2015 percentage was similar to the four previous years in 2011 (69.0%), 2012 (69.0%), 2013 (66.3%), and 2014 (68.7%).

Figure 1: Students Attending Regularly, Term 2


Gender and Year Level

There was very little overall difference between female and male levels of regular attendance (68.8% and 70.0%). The difference between the genders is even smaller at Year 1, at 69.2% for female students, and 69.3% for male students. This difference becomes greater in secondary school, with 46.8% of female Year 13 students attending school regularly, compared to 52.3% of Year 13 male students.

Figure 2: Students Attending School Regularly, by Gender, and Year Level, Term 2, 2015


  1. Students with missing year levels have been excluded.
  2. Year 13 includes students in years 13, 14 and 15.

Ethnic Group

Ethnicity is a significant factor with regard to regular attendance at school. The percentages of Māori (56.7%) and Pasifika (60.6%) students attending school regularly are significantly lower than that of European/Pākehā (72.7%) and Asian (80.1%) students. Asian students also have the highest levels of regular school attendance.

Figure 3: Students Attending School Regularly, by Ethnicity, Term 2, 2015


  1. 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".
  2. MELAA stands for Middle Eastern/Latin America/African.

School Type

The trend observed in Figure 2, of students in higher year levels being less likely to attend school regularly, is reflected in Figure 4. This is due to school type often being defined by the year level of the students attending the school.

Regular attendance at school for primary and intermediate students (Year 1 to Year 8) is higher than for secondary school students. The percentage of students attending school regularly further decreases progressing into higher year levels at secondary school.

Figure 4: Students Attending School Regularly, by School Type, Term 2, 2015.


  1. Composite includes restricted composite.


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 are the 10% of schools with the lowest proportion of these students. A school's decile does not indicate the overall socio-economic mix of the school.

As school decile increases so does the percentage of students attending school regularly (with the exception of decile 6). Just over 77% of students at decile 10 schools attend school regularly compared to 57.2% of students at decile 1 schools.

Figure 5: Students Attending School Regularly, by School Decile, Term 2, 2015

Education Area

School attendance in the South Island was above the national average of 69.4%. The North Island had a range of attendance rates below, at and above the national average.

The Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast education area also had the highest percentage of students attending school regularly (73.2%), whereas Tai Tokerau had the lowest (60.6%).

Figure 6: Students Attending School Regularly, by Education Area, Term 2, 2015


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 (2016).  Attendance in New Zealand Schools, Term 2, 2015. 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.