Circular 1997/24 - Register Of daily attendance of all students

This circular outlines the requirements for registering the daily attendance at school of all students.

Date: 30 June 1997
Circular Number: 1997/24
Category: Students

Register of daily attendance of all students

This circular is about: The responsibility to register the daily attendance of all students.

The action required is: Note the contents.

It is intended for: Chairpersons of boards of trustees, principals of all registered schools.


Attendance registers are official documents providing information on a school's roll numbers and the year levels of students. This information is used by the Ministry as the basis for allocating staffing, management positions/units, and operations funding to schools. It is therefore subject to audit in support of a school's 1 March and 1 July roll returns.

In terms of the Education (School Attendance) Regulations 1951, attendance registers must (among other things) be in a form approved by the Secretary for Education. The approved form (E19/1) is a manual, paper register which must be used unless the Secretary has given the school approval to use an alternative register such as a computerised attendance system. Information on how to obtain approval is given in this circular.

It is a requirement under the Regulations for principals of all schools to keep accurate records on the attendance register and therefore all entries must be clear and correct. The registers must be maintained in pen. Do not alter any part of the record by covering it. If a mistake is made, put a line through it so it can still be seen and show the correction alongside.

Registers must be retained in the school until their destruction is authorised by the Minister of Education.

Directions for completing the official register of attendance

  • only those children who have reached the age of 5 years.
    In entering the student's name, write the surname first.
    In the column headed 'classification', enter year level of the student.

Note: No student who has turned fourteen the year before; or has completed the work of, or equivalent to, form 2, may be, or continue to be, enrolled in a class below Form 3 unless he or she has a Section 9 agreement. (See section 5 of the Education Act 1989.)

No student who has not completed the work of, or equivalent to, form 2, shall be, or continue to be, enrolled at a secondary school or in a class above form 2 in a composite school, unless he or she turned 13 before 1 April the year before. (See section 6 of the Education Act 1989.)

At the head of the attendance columns, under the word 'week', enter the dates (day and month) on which the school week begins and ends.

Mark the attendance (in ink or ball-point pen) in the morning and again in the afternoon with a cross - one stroke in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The letter 'a' should be used to indicate 'absent'.

If the student is admitted to the class after the beginning of term, note the fact in the column for 'remarks' and state the date of the student's first attendance. In the same way, when the student is removed from the roll note the last day of attendance. Record also that a student has left the school when he or she has been absent for twenty consecutive school days unless the school has been informed that such absence is only temporary. However before recording that a student has left the school (when he or she has been absent for 20 consecutive days) the board must be able to show that over this period, it has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the attendance of such students in terms of sections 25(2) and 31(3) of the Education Act 1989. Such students shall from their last day of attendance cease to be students of that school, and any computation of attendance from then on should not include their name.

If the board authorises a student to undertake courses of education, obtain work experience, or make visits outside the school premises, the student shall be marked present while undertaking the course, obtaining the work experience or making the visit. Note or code the location of the course in the "Remarks" column.

A student attending a health camp shall be retained on the register. The student should be marked present for the duration of the time s/he is at the health camp. Note in the "Remarks" column the length of time s/he was at the camp.

A student who is suspended should be marked absent. Note in the "Remarks" column the length of time s/he was absent from school due to the suspension.

Note: Section 16 of the Education Act 1989 states that a student "who is suspended from a state school for an unspecified period shall stay on the school's register until the earliest of the following days:

  1. The day on which the suspension is lifted or expires;
  2. The day the student is enrolled at a registered school;
  3. The day the student is given an exemption under section 22 of this Act."

In the case of (a) above, the student of course remains on the roll of the school.

Section 17 of the Act states that a student who has turned 16 and is suspended for an unspecified period from a state school "shall stay on the register of the school until the earliest of the following days:

  1. The day on which the suspension is lifted;
  2. The day on which the student is expelled from school;
  3. The day on which the student is enrolled at a registered school;
  4. The day on which the student leaves school;
  5. The 1st day of January after the student's 19th birthday."

In the case of (a) above, the student of course remains on the roll of the school.

A student who is on study or exam leave must be marked absent. Note or code in the "Remarks" column the reason for the absence.

Part-time secondary and adult students

Attendance records must be kept for all secondary school part-time and adult students. A separate register should be used for them. In addition to the name of each student, it must show the number of hours of class contact time per week and the subject(s) taken.


When a student leaves, rule a line through the rest of the year and through their name. If the student returns later in the year, re-enter their name at the bottom of the list and record in the comments column that they have re-entered.

The fourth column could be used for the student's admission number as it stands in the Admission Register.

In the columns for `age' and `time since entering first school', enter the number of completed years and months as on the 1st day of January.

Obtaining approval to use an alternative attendance register

Where a school wants to use a computerised attendance register instead of the approved manual register (E19/1), an approval must be obtained from the Secretary for Education before the school stops using the manual register.

An application form can be obtained from Ministry management centres. The form seeks assurance that a computerised system will record the same information obtained on the manual register and that there is a clear audit trail.

A computer based system must be able to produce:

  1. A list of enrolments with name, class and enrolment date
  2. A list of leavers with name, class and last day of attendance
  3. An attendance record for any student or group of students for any given period
  4. A class list at any given date
  5. A master roll at any given date.

Manually prepared source documents for the computer must be available that show a minimum of the student's name, class and daily attendance/absence record, filed in some logical form.

An auditable record must be available that is unalterable by the school, and that records retrospective changes to data. All changes must show the date of the change, what is changed, to what and by whom. Documentation needs to be available to support any changes.

Weekly (or more frequent) backups need to be made with copies held securely. A minimum of one manual check of computer data is to be made during the roll return preparation (1 March and 1 July).

Issued by

Kathy Phillips
Senior Manager, National Operations

Eric Pedersen
Senior Manager, Early Childhood and Schools Resourcing

National Office
45 - 47 Pipitea Street, Thorndon
P O Box 1666, Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: 04 463 8000
Fax: 04 463 8001

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