Enrolment, attendance, and the school system

Attendance requirements

Between what ages do I have to go to school?

Education and Training Act 2020, ss 35

You must be enrolled and attend school from your sixth birthday until you turn 16.

Exemptions from having to go to school

Education and Training Act 2020, ss 35, 37, 38, 39, 42

There are some exceptions to the rule that all children and young people between six and 16 have to go to school, including:

  • Long walking distances – A six-year-old doesn’t have to go to school if they’d have to walk more than three kilometres to the nearest school.
  • Home schooling – The Ministry of Education can allow you to be taught at home by your parents or guardians if it’s satisfied you’ll be taught as well and as regularly as you would at school.
  • Learning support (used to be called “special education”) – If you have learning support needs, you can have all of your schooling provided by a specialist service. See the section, “Learning support
  • Early leaving exemption (15 year olds) – If you’ve turned 15, your parent or guardian can apply to the local Ministry of Education office to allow you to leave school. The Ministry must be satisfied that because of educational problems, or your behaviour, you are not benefitting by staying in school.
  • Wellbeing or transitional plan – You can go to school part-time if it’s in the best interests of your wellbeing. You need to give medical evidence (from a doctor or psychologist). Your whānau can agree on a plan with the principal and the Secretary of Education. The plan can’t be for longer than six months, but can be extended for another six months if your whānau ask the Secretary.

Can I go to school part-time?

Education and Training Act 2020, ss 36, 42

Not usually. You have to go to school regularly and full-time between the ages of six and 16. If you’re 16 or older, it may be possible to arrange with the school to go part-time – but this would be unusual.

If you’re unwell, your parents, guardians or caregivers can agree on a plan with the principal (and the Ministry of Education) to reduce the hours you have to be at school if that would be best for you. You must have written confirmation from a doctor or psychologist that this is needed for your wellbeing.

Can I take days off school for a tangi, funeral or other good reasons?

Education and Training Act 2020, s 45

Yes, but only with the principal’s permission. A parent or guardian needs to contact the school and explain why you won’t be at school.

If you have a legitimate reason, your principal can allow you to be away for up to five school days at a time. It is justifiable for you take days off school to go to a tangihanga or funeral.

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Enrolment, attendance, and the school system

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