Dáil Éireann - Volume 615 - 01 March, 2006

Written Answers. - School Absenteeism.

  214. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending primary schools in the Lucan area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8410/06]

  215. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending primary schools in the Palmerstown area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more [1867] than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8411/06]

  216. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending primary schools in the Brittas area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8412/06]

  217. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending primary schools in the Newcastle area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8413/06]

  218. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending primary schools in the Saggart area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8414/06]

  219. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending primary schools in the Rathcoole area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8415/06]

  220. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending primary schools in the Clondalkin area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8416/06]

[1868]   221. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending second level schools in the Lucan area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8417/06]

  222. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending second level schools in the Palmerstown area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8418/06]

  223. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending second level schools in the Clondalkin area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8419/06]

  224. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending second level schools in the Newcastle area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average. [8420/06]

  225. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending second level schools in the Saggart area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8421/06]

  226. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending second level schools in the Rathcoole area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national [1869] average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8422/06]

  227. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children attending second level schools in the Brittas area who were absent for more than 20 days in 2004-05; the number who were absent for more than 40 days in 2004-05; the percentage of the student population each figure represents; the way in which this compares with the national average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8423/06]

  Ms Hanafin: I propose to take Questions Nos. 214 to 227, inclusive, together.

The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 established the National Educational Welfare Board, NEWB, as the single national body with responsibility for school attendance. The Act provides a comprehensive framework promoting regular school attendance and tackling the problems of absenteeism and early school leaving. The general function of the board is to ensure that each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education.

Up to 2004, Ireland had no national data on the levels of student attendance in our schools. This matter was addressed by the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, which requires all schools to submit a report to the NEWB on levels of school attendance. In 2004, the NEWB initiated the collection and analysis of the first set of school attendance data relating to the school year 2003-04. Based on the analysis of data for the 2003-04 report, the findings indicated that non-attendance is a national issue and not just confined to areas of disadvantage. At primary level, the average number of days missed is 11 out of 183. At post-primary level, the average absence is 15 days out of 167. The findings indicated that absenteeism is higher in more disadvantaged areas. In the RAPID city areas, the average absence is 20 days. One in four post-primary students misses 20 days or more. Beyond RAPID areas, the average absence at post-primary level is 14 days and almost one in five misses 20 days or more. In RAPID city areas, the average absence at primary level is 17 days, while almost one in four pupils misses 20 days or more. In other areas, the average absence is ten days and one in ten misses 20 days or more.

The average attendance in the most disadvantaged post-primary schools is 86.1%, or 23 days absence, and the average attendance in the least disadvantaged schools is 94.6%, or nine days absence, implying a difference of 8.5%. This difference is also evident in respect of the number of children who miss 20 days or more, that is, 38% of students in the most disadvantaged schools and 8.5% in the least disadvantaged areas, a difference of 29.9%.

[1870] The Government has put in place a variety of measures to deal with the traditionally high levels of absence from school of children from disadvantaged areas. We set up the NEWB to monitor school attendance, help parents to get a school place for their child and run promotional campaigns on the importance of regular attendance. Working with parents to promote school attendance is also an important part of the work of the home-school-community liaison co-ordinators appointed to schools serving disadvantaged communities. Through the school completion programme, we are providing increased resources for schools in disadvantaged areas to improve attendance and school completion rates by offering extra supports for their students. These include extra educational supports and services such as breakfast clubs.

In May 2005, my Department launched the DEIS initiative, a new programme for educational inclusion, under which even greater funding will be given to schools serving the most disadvantaged communities to help young people to do better at school. The process of identifying which schools will benefit from the new programme is now complete and those schools which will be receiving support under DEIS have now been contacted and invited to participate in the initiative.

With regard to the issue raised by the Deputy pertaining to the level of absenteeism in particular areas, my Department has requested the NEWB to respond directly to him on this matter.