Plan to slash school absenteeism
A group of Dublin schools have revealed their secret behind slashing absentee rates by 25pc through a programme due to be rolled out nationally this year.
The new approach involves closer co-operation between parents, children and education authorities.
It includes regular meetings, an agreed strategy amongst a cluster of schools, broader communication with families and incentivising children.
A pilot programme in Dublin, involving 10 schools, focused on 100 pupils under the guidance of an Educational Welfare Officer (EWO) and cut the average absentee rate from 42 days per pupil to just 24, an improvement of 42pc.
Overall, however, the area saw an improvement of nearly 9,800 fewer school days missed in a typical year, or a decrease in absenteeism of 25pc.
Figures released yesterday show some 56,000 students in Ireland are missing school every day.
But the overall percentage of student days lost to absenteeism for the 2009-2010 academic year has fallen, with just over 6pc (11 school days per year) in primary schools and 8pc (13 school days) at second level.
A county-by-county breakdown shows that serious absenteeism (more than 20 school days a year) is most serious in Dublin (15.9pc of total school days), followed by Limerick (12.7pc), Longford (12.4pc) and Louth (12.3pc).
Monaghan had that lowest level of students missing for 20 days or more at just 7.3pc. Schools in less advantaged and urban areas had higher rates.
Speaking at the launch of yesterday's statistics, Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: "Early interventions of the type that we have heard today are the best kind of interventions you can get.
"Getting parents on board, you get the reductions in non-school attendance that way. The focus has to be on working with the parents and with the schools."