Circular 2010/19 - Electronic Attendance Registers (eAR)

This funding circular is about the requirements for all schools using, or intending to use, an electronic attendance register (eAR).

Date December 2010 | Circular number 2010/19 | Category Funding

This circular is about the requirements for all schools using, or intending to use, an electronic attendance register (eAR).

This circular replaces 2006/10.

The action required is schools must:

  • apply to the Ministry of Education for approval before replacing E19/1 manual registers with an electronic attendance register
  • comply with the requirements for using electronic attendance registers, as outlined in this circular.

It is intended for boards of trustees and principals in all state and state-integrated and registered private schools.

For further information
Further information about electronic attendance registers is available on the Ministry website.

For information about roll returns, record keeping requirements and resourcing audit visits refer to:

  • Circular 2007/17: Auditing of Roll Returns: 1 March and 1 July
  • Chapter 5 of the Funding, Staffing and Allowances Handbook.

For more information contact the Resourcing Division Contact Centre, Ministry of Education:

Resourcing Division Contact Centre, Ministry of Education
PO Box 1666, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 8383 Fax 04 463 8374


This circular explains:

  1. the application and review process for all schools using or intending to use an electronic attendance register (eAR)
  2. the requirements for using an eAR as an alternative attendance register to the E19/1 manual attendance register
  3. how the electronic attendance register calculates attendance.

Legislative requirements

The Education Act 1989 ("the Act") and the Education (School Attendance) Regulations 1951 ("the Regulations") impose legal obligations on school boards of trustees, principals, teachers, and parents that relate to students' enrolment and attendance at school.

Every person who is required to be enrolled at a registered school must attend the school whenever it is open unless they are exempted from attendance in accordance with the Act.

The Regulations require that all schools must:

  • maintain accurate daily attendance registers for all students enrolled in the school
  • use an attendance register in the approved form to record student attendance.

School attendance registers are legal records which may be used in court proceedings. These registers must be retained for at least seven years from the date of the last entry. After seven years, the attendance registers may be destroyed with the approval of the board of trustees in the case of state and state integrated schools, or with the approval of the manager in the case of private schools.

Applying to use an eAR

Schools must apply to the Ministry of Education for approval before replacing E19/1 manual attendance registers with electronic attendance registers.

Schools apply to use an eAR by completing the Electronic Attendance Register Application Form and sending it to the Resourcing Division of the Ministry of Education for approval.

The application requires schools to:

  • identify the attendance marking system (de-centralised, centralised or mixed) that they will use
  • state the position of the person in the school who has responsibility for specific attendance process tasks
  • declare that appropriate attendance processes will be implemented.

When the application has been approved, schools will be advised in writing that they have approval to use the electronic attendance register and no longer need to use the E19/1 manual attendance register.

Schools with provisional or full approval to use an eAR

Under the process described in Circular 2006/10 schools that applied to use an eAR were initially granted provisional approval. Full approval was granted following a satisfactory attendance management review by a Ministry Resourcing Auditor.

The Ministry no longer grants ‘provisional’ or ‘full’ approval to use an eAR. Schools with provisional or full approval:

  • are now approved to use an eAR under the process outlined in this circular
  • do not need to reapply for approval to use an eAR
  • are not required to use E19/1 manual attendance registers.

Although schools previously granted provisional or full approval do not need to reapply to the Ministry for approval to use an eAR, they should still read this circular to ensure they understand the updated requirements for using an eAR.

Requirements for using an eAR

Schools using an electronic attendance register must:

  • be using a Student Management System (SMS) which is Ministry of Education approved to be used for electronic attendance registers
  • have attendance processes that ensure timely and accurate collection, recording, monitoring and reporting of student attendance
  • have attendance processes which provide the required information to meet the legal requirement to provide accurate roll returns
  • at the end of each term print and archive (for seven years) a paper copy of the Term Attendance Registers for each homeroom, or form/tutor/whānau group.

Schools must comply with the following attendance management requirements when using an eAR:

  • students must be marked absent or present during the course of every school day as required by the Act and Regulations (attendance must be marked mornings and afternoons for students taught in homeroom situations and period-by-period for students who move from teacher to teacher during the course of a day)
  • attendance must be marked during class time by the teacher with the students in front of them (either by marking attendance directly into the SMS or by manually marking a full class list to use as the basis for later data entry)
  • all absences must be appropriately coded in the SMS (entering an explanation in the comment section of the SMS is good practice)
  • all unexplained absences must be followed up and reported to parents and caregivers as soon as possible
  • as soon as an unexplained absence is resolved, the SMS must be updated with the appropriate code (entering an explanation in the comment section of the SMS is good practice)
  • school management must follow up instances where attendance is not marked by the teacher responsible and address the matter in an appropriate and timely manner
  • students with continuous and/or regular absences must be identified and monitored.

eAR incentive payment

All state or state-integrated primary, special, intermediate, secondary and composite schools granted approval to use an electronic attendance register are eligible for a one-off incentive payment of $500 plus GST. Schools will automatically receive the $500 incentive payment in an operational funding instalment following the approval of their application.

Review of attendance management processes

Schools’ attendance management processes will be reviewed by a Ministry Resourcing Auditor as part of a resourcing audit. School must provide a computer, with access to the school's SMS, for use by the Ministry’s Resourcing Auditors during a resourcing audit.

Schools should have documented attendance procedures defining roles and responsibilities which are clearly advised to staff (teaching, administration and management), with regular monitoring to ensure that the attendance procedures are being followed.

The Resourcing Auditor will report to the school’s board of trustees and principal on how the school is complying with the attendance requirements. The Resourcing Auditor will also advise the school on how to improve the attendance processes if the school has:

  • inadequate attendance processes
  • inadequate monitoring of attendance
  • attendance or monitoring processes which lack accuracy and/or completeness
  • the inability to produce an accurate roll return.

The school will then be subject to further Ministry audits to verify that the school's attendance and roll return processes have been amended to meet the requirements.

How the electronic attendance register calculates attendance

The school's Student Management System creates the electronic attendance register which records the daily attendance of each student. Each student is recorded on the register as being present for zero, one or two ½ days.

The following points outline how attendance is recorded:

  • zero half days - no attendance or less than two hours attendance for tuition in a school day
  • one half day - attendance for tuition for more than two hours but less than four hours in a school day
  • two half days - attendance for tuition for at least four hours in a school day.

Students will almost always be required to be at school for longer than four hours. The Act requires students to attend school whenever it is open and this is generally for more than four hours.

Issued by

John Clark, Group Manager Resourcing Division, Te Wāhanga Whakarato Rawa
Ministry of Education, National Office, 45 – 47 Pipitea Street, Thorndon, P O Box 1666, Wellington, New Zealand
Phone 04-463 8383, Fax 04-463 8374

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