Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Vice-Chair of Jobs, Social Protection and Education Committee
Labour Party TD for Dublin North Central
Labour TD for Dublin North Central Aodhán O Ríordáin launched the Education Welfare Amendment Bill 2012 in the AV Room in Leinster House this afternoon with Ciara Conway TD, John Lyons TD and Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay.
The Bill aims to amend the Education Welfare Act 2000 which established the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) but which only applies to children aged 6-16 years. Currently children enrolled in a recognised school aged 4 or 5 years of age do not come under the remit of the Act.
'It is essential that schools and the NEWB are empowered to intervene at the earliest stage to ensure that patterns of poor school attendance can be addressed so that they do not become embedded. The vast majority of parents understand the power of education, and that excellent school attendance is the key to maximising a child's educational potential. It is essential therefore that we ensure that all children enrolled in primary schools of all ages, come under the remit of the Education Welfare Act to ensure that in the small number of cases where poor attendance patterns are evident, interventions can take place.
'Often when a child reaches the age of six, it is too late to turn the tide of school absenteeism. Children deserve an excellent education, and an educational system that works in partnership with their parents to ensure they can get the most out of their schooldays. My Bill which I am launching in conjunction with my Dáil colleagues Ciara Conway and John Lyons will address this and I am encouraged by the support we have received from many children's advocate groups including Barnardos.'