New Zealand Schools Attendance Survey: Term 2, 2017

Publication Details

This report is designed to provide a picture that will help school leaders and other sector representatives to understand patterns of attendance in New Zealand schools, and how these can effect achievement.

Author(s): Education Data and Knowledge, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: March 2018


This report provides a picture of attendance in New Zealand schools to help schools, Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako and other sector representatives understand patterns of attendance and how these can affect achievement. In addition to attendance statistics, this report analyses the relationship between the attainment of NCEA Level 1 among Year 11 students in 2016, and their attendance in that and previous years.

Alongside the legal responsibility that schools, parents and guardians have for ensuring children are attending school, attendance is vital because every day a student is not at school is a day they are not learning. Therefore the Ministry provides a range of support for schools to address poor attendance, including the integrated Attendance Service.

This report uses two different key measures of attendance:

  • The percentage of half-days attended by a student. A half-day is two hours of class time within a calendar day. A student is considered to be attending regularly if they were present at school for more than 90% of all half-days in Term 2.
  • The percentage of class time missed by a group of students. This is further broken down into justified and unjustified absence, and individual reasons for absence within these categories. This measure better accounts for specific types of absences that may not make up a half-day but still amount to a significant amount of missed class time over the course of the term.

All state, state-integrated and partnership schools were invited to submit Term 2 attendance data. Of 2,413 schools, 1,920 (80%) provided this data. This accounts for about 640,000 students, or 84% of the student population. This report covers attendance in Term 2 only.

Summary of 2017 Findings
  • Term 2 attendance in Year 11 is strongly linked with attainment of NCEA Level 1.
  • In Term 2 of 2017, 63% of students were attending regularly (more than 90% of all half-days). This was lower than in 2016 (67%), mainly due to an increase in absence due to medical reasons.
  • The decrease in attendance was evident among schools common to both the 2016 and 2017 surveys, which suggests that this decrease was real and not due to a change in the composition of schools responding to the survey.
  • Students who identified as Māori and Pasifika had lower rates of regular attendance than other ethnicities (50% and 52%, respectively).
  • Students in high-decile schools attended more than those in lower-decile schools, with 72% attending regularly in decile 10 schools compared to 47% in decile 1 schools.
  • Attendance declines in the senior secondary years, with female students attending less than male students in Years 11 to 13.
  • Both justified and unjustified absences were higher in Term 2 of 2017 than in the same term in 2016. Over a longer time span, unjustified absences have increased steadily, while justified absences have been more variable.


  1. This is a heuristic; it does not mean that the Ministry considers 90% attendance to be enough. However, some non-attendance is expected, especially due to illness.

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