Ó Ríordáin publishes Education Welfare Amendment Bill to tackle infant school absenteeism

18 July 2017

Labour Party spokesperson on Education and Skills, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has launched the Education (Welfare) (Amendment) Bill 2017.

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.

Commenting on the Bill, Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

‘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 school days. My Bill which I am introducing in the Seanad today, will address this.”

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