National decline in the number of students attending school regularly, report shows
Each day last year more than 76,000 New Zealand students were absent from school, as truancy rates rose across the country.
The latest Ministry of Education attendance survey has found the percentage of students attending school regularly decreased in Term 2, 2016, compared with the same time the previous year.
The report, released in June, is based on student attendance data from 630,000 students, collected from state and integrated schools over the second term.
It showed the total national "absence rate" - both those playing truant and those with a legitimate reason for being off school - accounted for 10.2 per cent, or 76,500 students per day, an increase from 9.9 per cent in 2015.
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The unjustified absence (truancy) rate is 4.5 per cent, just below the record level of 4.6 per cent in 2014.
The frequent truant rate - students who were unjustifiably absent for three or more days - also rose in 2016 from 1.2 to 1.4 per cent.
The Ministry of Education report also showed an increase in students going on holiday during term time: considered an unjustifiable absence.
Approximately 36,000 students took some term time off for family holidays during Term 2 last year. These holidays averaged 9.5 half-days in duration, nearly a full week of school.
Asian students made up the majority of students taking holidays during term time, followed by Middle Eastern, Latin American or African (a group given the acronym MELAA) and then Pakeha students.
The percentage of students with very low levels of attendance, less than 75 per cent of all half-days, was highest in Te Tai Tokerau - with just over half of all students attending regularly. (55.9 per cent)
By contrast, the Otago/Southland education area had the highest rates of regular attendance, at 71.2 per cent.
There must be something in the water: students in the Otago/Southland area were also less likely to be late to class, the report showed.
Nationally, Asian students had the highest rates of regular attendance in 2016, at 77 per cent. Pakeha and MELAA students followed at 70.5 per cent and 69.4 per cent, respectively.
Maori students reported the lowest attendance rates, with only 54.7 per cent of students regularly attending school. Pasifika students had a slightly higher rate, at 57.2 per cent.
The report also showed older students were more likely to be truant, with a higher proportion of primary and intermediate school students attending regularly than secondary school students.
Year 6 students, aged 10-11, had the highest level of regular school attendance, while Year 13 students had the lowest.
While there was no obvious gender difference in students attending regularly from years 1 to 9, less girls are attending school regularly at year 13 level than boys.
In 2016, Year 13 boys spent more school time truant than female students, but girls spent more time away for each other unjustified absence reason and had an overall higher level of unjustified absence.
Justified absences are categorised as short-term illness, reason for absence within school policy, justified overseas, and stood down or suspended.
Girls spent more time absent for each justified absence reason, except for being stood down or suspended, than male students, and had a higher level of justified absence overall.
All state and state integrated schools were invited to participate in the 2016 attendance survey: 76.3 per cent of schools participated, compared to 77.7 per cent in 2015.