School enrolment and attendance

When may a principal excuse a student from mandatory attendance?

A principal may exempt a student from attendance in three situations.

Exemptions from mandatory attendance for specified periods

Offsite tuition

A principal may release a student from school if they are satisfied the student will receive acceptable outside tuition, and the parent(s) of the student have agreed to the outside tuition. The arrangement should include adequate time for travel between the school and the place of outside tuition.

Go home early

The principal may release a student who has been at school for at least four hours in any school day to go home early, where they are satisfied there is good reason for the student to leave early.

Short-term release

The principal can only grant this type of release for a maximum of five school days at any one time, and the principal must be satisfied the absence was or will be justified. Permission may be retrospective or prospective. The practical effect of this provision is that it releases the parents of their obligation to ensure mandatory attendance.

Education and Training Act 2020, section 52 – Legislation website

Education and Training Act 2020, section 45 – Legislation website

If the principal wants a student to leave the school for disciplinary reasons, or wants a parent to remove a student from school for disciplinary reasons, they can only do this by standing-down or suspending the student. 

See Stand-down and suspension grounds

Contact NZSTA for more specific information or advice about your situation.

Updated: August 2020

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