New Zealand Schools Attendance Survey: Term 2, 2018

Publication Details

This report looks at the data generated by the 2018 Term 2 Attendance Survey, which is a voluntary survey run across primary and secondary schools. The 2018 survey includes data from 86.6% of all schools and represents 92.5% of enrolled students in New Zealand.

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

Date Published: January 2019


This report looks at four patterns of student attendance:

  • Regular attendance, students attending school for more than 90% of available half-days.
  • Irregular absence, students attending between 81% and 90% of available half-days,
  • Moderate absence, students attending between 71% and 80% of available half-days, and
  • Chronic absence, students attending school 70%, or less, of available half-days.

The number of half-days schools are open in a year is prescribed. Secondary and composite schools are required to be open 380 half-days. Primary, intermediate, and special schools between 384 and 390 half-days (depending on the timing of Easter).

Summary of 2018 Findings
  • The report shows that in 2018 regular attendance stabilised at 63.8% of students, following declines seen in the two previous surveys; 67.2% in 2016 and 63.0% in 2017.
  • Encouraging students who have irregular absence to lift their attendance by up to five half days could see regular attendance in Term 2 rise up to 79.1% of students.
  • The trend of female students having less regular attendance than male students in Years 12 and 13 continues, and is most pronounced for Y13 female students. Regular attendance for these students is 41.5%, 5.5 percentage points below Y13 male students.
  • Regionally Auckland had the highest number of students with irregular absence (52,161 students), but Tai Tokerau region had the highest proportion of students with irregular absence (27.8% of students).
  • In 2018, chronic absence continued to be more prevalent in lower socio-economic schools, with the rate about four times higher in Decile 1 (13.2%) schools than in Decile 10 (3.2%) schools.
  • The lowest socio-economic schools (Deciles 1-3) have the highest number and rate of chronic absences. Decile 1 schools, at 13.2% (6,840), have over 1,800 more students than Decile 3 (5,013) schools, the next largest group.
  • Every Day Matters (EDM) returns for the last ten terms (Term 1, 2016 to Term 2, 2018) show how attendance varies across a year; Term 2 attendance is lower than Term 1 and higher than Term 3, but fluctuates against Term 4.
  • In Term 2, of the 3,212 Unjustified Absence cases closed by Attendance Service, one in five was unresolved and progressed to a Non Enrolled case. Also in Term 2, over 17,700 students (Years 1 to 13) missed at least 20 non-consecutive days of school.


  1. The Ministry of Education (Ministry) defines regular attendance as attending school for greater than 90% of all half-days in Term 2.
  2. A half-day can either be the minimum two hours before, or after, noon contributing to the minimum four hours of a school day.
  3. Deciles are used in many of the indicators used by the Ministry as a proxy for socio-economic status.
  4. A student is ‘Non Enrolled’ when they miss 20 consecutive days of school, or their school believes they are likely to miss these days.

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