INFANTS MISS THOUSANDS OF SCHOOLDAYS EACH YEAR UNCHECKED BY GOVERNMENT
‘The National Educational Welfare Board, established to monitor school attendance, is powerless to intervene as thousands of school days are being lost by four and five year olds every year.’ Cllr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a Labour Councillor and North Inner City Principal, has stated
‘The Board, established under the Educational Welfare Act 2000, is required to investigate cases of school absenteeism. However one provision within the 2000 Education Welfare Act states that the functions of the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) are limited to children between the ages of six and sixteen. ‘
‘Crucially there is no statutory requirement for children to be enrolled in school before the age of six, which in effect means that teachers, principals and NEWB officers are powerless to intervene in a case of chronic absenteeism of a child who is enrolled in a school under that age.
‘At that most important developmental stage in a child's education, the infant years, the NEWB has no statutory grounds to intervene in a case of serious absenteeism which many educators point to as a key indication of child neglect. This is my view is tantamount to departmental neglect of children.’
’It is clear now that this legislation must be amended to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled in a school that the powers afforded to the NEWB under the Educational Welfare act can be enforced, regardless of the child's age. Such a change would ensure that those in the school community and those charged with the responsibility of monitoring school attendance can make the maximum difference at the earliest opportunity.’ Cllr Ó Ríordáin concluded.