Students attending school regularly

What We Have Found

The percentage of students attending school regularly has not significantly changed since 2011.

Date Updated: January 2019

Indicator Description

The percentage of students who have attended more than 90% of Term 2, where time is measured in half-days. A half-day can either be the minimum two hours before, or after, noon contributing to the minimum four hours of a school day.

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 considerable 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 2018, the percentage of students attending school regularly was 63.8%, an increase of 0.8 percentage points from 2017. Regular attendance stabilised in 2018, following declines in the previous two years; 67.2% in 2016 and 63.0% in 2017.

Figure 1: Students attending school regularly, Term 2, 2018


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 late secondary school, Years 10 to 13, females have lower attendance rates than males. This difference is largest in Year 13 where 41.4% of female students attend regularly compared to 47.3% 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, 2018


Ethnic Group

Ethnicity is a factor with regard to students attending school regularly. The percentages of Māori (50.4%) and Pasifika (52.5%) students attending school regularly are significantly lower than that of European/Pākehā (67.1%) and Asian (74.6%) students.

Figure 3: Students attending school regularly, by ethnicity, Term 2, 2018



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. A school’s decile does not indicate the overall socio-economic mix of the school.

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 73% of students at decile 10 schools attend school regularly compared to 48% of students at decile 1 schools.

Figure 4: Students attending school regularly, by school decile, Term 2, 2018

Regional Council

The Otago (67.5%), Tasman and Wellington (66.9%) regional council areas had the highest percentage of students attending school regularly, while the Northland (51.4%) and Gisborne (51.9%) regional council areas had the lowest.


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 (2019). Term 2 Attendance Survey, 2018. 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.

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