Attendance and absence in New Zealand schools 1998

Publication Details

This report documents the results of a survey of all state and state integrated schools in New Zealand carried out in 1998, designed to capture student attendance and absence over one week. It also reports on schools' practices of monitoring attendance and using truancy or tracking services.

Author(s): Gorham Milbank, Truancy Project Team, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: July 1999

Executive Summary

This publication reports on a survey of attendance, absences and truancy data carried out in all New Zealand schools in Term 2 1998. The survey and analysis follow the same procedures used for a similar survey in 1996, which was reported in Kerslake, J., and Lange, D., (1998) Attendance, absences and truancy in New Zealand schools 1996.

Purpose of the Survey

The intention of this survey was to obtain information on attendance and truancy patterns in New Zealand schools, and to record this information as national averages for different school types.

The issue of attendance and non-attendance in schools has repeatedly come up over the years since the introduction of compulsory schooling in New Zealand . The Education Act (1989) places the onus on parents to enrol their children in school, and to ensure that they attend. The Act also requires school boards of trustees to ensure that children enrolled in their school do attend. The Act states:

Every Board shall, by any means it thinks appropriate, take all reasonable steps to ensure the attendance of students enrolled at its school or schools (or institution or institutions) (1989, 31 (3)) .

School principals are responsible for keeping accurate records of students enrolled, and an accurate register of daily attendance.

The data from the survey published in this report enables schools to monitor their performance in terms of student attendance by comparing their attendance data with the national averages for similar school types.

Results of the Survey

Broadly the results are very similar to the 1996 study. For a detailed analysis refer to the earlier survey, and the data can be compared with that published in this report.

The 1996 study included all intermediate, secondary and composite schools but only primary schools involved in a Ministry of Education funded truancy initiative (N=197) were surveyed. For the 1998 survey all state and state-integrated primary schools were invited to participate. The overall response rate was 96% and the Ministry of Education was very appreciative of the time and effort schools took in participating in this survey.

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