Labour Bill to tackle infant school absenteeism

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
06 February 2018

Labour Party legislation to tackle infant school absenteeism will be debated during Private Members’ time in the Seanad this afternoon.

The Bill aims to amend the Education Welfare Act 2000 that 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 old don’t come under the remit of the Act.

Commenting on the Bill, Labour Party Education Spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said:

“This Bill will protect infants in school. Currently, Túsla cannot protect the attendance rights of four and five year olds. Túsla can only intervene in a case of chronic absenteeism if a child is six years or older. This effectively means that young children with chronic absenteeism in our school system are being failed at the earliest stage of their education journey.

“Our amendment to the Education Welfare Act 2000 will ensure that all enrolled children under the age of six will be protected by Túsla, and so positive attendance patterns can be embedded at the earliest stage.

“International research has proven that positive school attendance at the earliest stage will last throughout a child’s school going life.

“I look forward to engaging with Government and other parties to ensure this amendment can be passed into law as soon as possible.”

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