Student attendance: Guide for schools and kura

Schools and kura, along with whānau | parents, are legally responsible for making sure students attend school every day.

Attendance responsibilities 

Schools and kura must record and report on attendance  

All schools are required to have an attendance management policy and procedures that they follow for all student absences.  

It is the school’s or kura responsibility (and their board) to take reasonable steps to ensure enrolled students attend whenever the school is open. This is also for student safety reasons and requires schools and kura to take action when a student who is expected at school has not turned up. Schools and kura must notify the parent or caregiver promptly so they can act accordingly.  

It is also expected that all absences are recorded and reported to the Ministry of Education. Additional attendance indicators introduced in 2023 now monitor absences that remain unexplained at the end of the week in which the absence occurred. This demonstrates the extent to which schools quickly understand (and code) reasons for absence.  

Te Mahau staff will follow up with and provide support to schools and kura on timely responses to unexplained absences where needed.  

Attendance and sickness 

All students must be at school every day. The Term 3 2023 attendance results continue to show attendance is being impacted by illness. We recognise this continues to pose challenges for schools and kura despite significant efforts to increase attendance.  

All schools and kura should have their own plan that best meets the needs of all their students and staff, including preventative measures in place to protect teachers and support staff, ākonga, and tamariki onsite. These decisions should be made at board level. 

We are working with the Ministry of Health to review the advice available to parents,  caregivers and schools and kura to assist in making good decisions about when students should not attend school due to sickness. We hope to have updated guidance available by the end of March 2024.

Tips for schools and kura 

To help you review your attendance processes, an attendance guide and more information is available here:

Additional attendance indicators

Schools and kura with great attendance tend to: 

  • Have staff who have strong relationships with ākonga and whānau. 
  • Set strong expectations around attendance with parents and caregivers including the impacts from holidays during term time and other unjustified absences. 
  • Have a clear process to identify and manage attendance including an escalation process. 
  • Develop a connected school community that does everything to make sure students are attending, participating, and progressing in their education. 
  • Build a school culture that recognises each student and whānau for who they are, where they come from and who they want to be.  

School and kura staff can also use these attendance resources.

You can use the following slides when talking with parents: Attendance presentation [PPTX, 10 MB]

This is some content that can be adjusted for parent newsletters: School newsletter [DOCX, 30 KB]

Introduction to Attendance Data – Education Learning management system(external link) 

Attendance – Education Counts(external link)

Supports for schools and kura 

Attendance Service  

We have contracted 79 Attendance Service providers across the country. Attendance Services work with schools and families to help get students back to school. Schools may refer students to an attendance service provider for additional support to get them back to school. Attendance Service staff might visit a child at home to support them back to school. 

The Attendance Service also employs attendance officers who can work with your school and communities to identify and support students on the cusp of persistent absence (moderate and irregular).

Attendance service 

Wellbeing in schools  

It is important for schools and kura to provide a safe and welcoming environment for ākonga to succeed. Find out about programmes, resources and tools that can help you support the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of ākonga and staff. 

Student wellbeing

More information 

Talk to your local Te Mahau office for more information to support your needs.

Local Ministry offices

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