Schools must prepare plans to monitor pupil attendance

More than 500 parents threatened with prosecution last year over attendance

Those most likely to miss significant amounts of school time include students with emotional or behavioural problems, special needs or mental health issues. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Those most likely to miss significant amounts of school time include students with emotional or behavioural problems, special needs or mental health issues. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

 

All schools will be required to prepare detailed plans to monitor school attendance under new guidelines.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has launched a new “statement of strategy” aimed at improving supports available to students at risk of dropping out of school.

Last year, more than 500 parents were threatened with prosecution over their failure to ensure their children attended school. About 54,000 students on average miss school each day, equivalent to 10 school days lost a year for a primary school student and 13 days for a secondary school student.

Eibhlin Byrne, Tusla’s director of educational welfare service, said schools would be invited to consider their culture, the learning environment offered to children and aspects of school life that may encourage attendance, participation and retention in school.

All schools will be required under legislation to complete these statements and send them to Tusla. While the requirement has existed for many years, it is only now being fully implemented.

Those most likely to miss significant amounts of school time include students with emotional or behavioural problems, special needs or mental health issues.

A conference hosted yesterday by Tusla explored how education and welfare services could work together to achieve better outcomes for children.

Schools are obliged to alert Tusla if a child misses more more than 20 school days a year.

While in the vast majority of cases supports are made available for children or parents, authorities have the power to prosecute parents where they fail to co-operate.

Latest figures show non-attendance is about twice as high in special schools compared with mainstream primary schools. The rate of 20-day absences is about three times higher in special schools.