‘Early intervention’ urged on school absenteeism

Published on Monday 6 February 2012 11:47

truancy is contributing to a lack of educational achievement and a generational circle of poverty in Carrick, an East Antrim MLA has claimed.

Assemblyman Roy Beggs highlighted the issue during a Stormont debate on child poverty.

He stated: A statistic from the former Department for Children, Schools and Families shows that eight per-cent of truants can expect to get five GCSEs or more. What are we doing to address truancy and the high levels of absenteeism?

If someone is not regularly at school, they will fall behind and are less likely to reach their full attainment, get qualified and get a job. If they do not attend school regularly, they are less likely to attend a work place regularly and less likely to be employed. They are most likely to end up NEET (not in employment, education and training).

The very sad thing is that 40% of those who are currently categorised as NEET will be parents within 10 years. So, guess what? The cycle will continue. We must think carefully about how we can break the cycle.

The Ulster Unionist representative referred to answers to a question placed to the Minister for Education which showed that average absenteeism in primary schools is 55 per 1,000 with less than 85% attendance.

When you look at the disadvantaged areas, what do you find? The figures for the two disadvantaged wards in Carrickfergus are, I think, 136 per 1,000 and 163 per 1,000, he continued.

Let us address that issue effectively. That is why Departments need to co-operate. It is about early intervention, family support programmes and Sure Start.

Mr Beggs also praised the work of a government-sponsored health care scheme, the Choices Family Support Programme run by Action for Children, which works in disadvantaged areas of the borough .

The additional family support these type of schemes provide has helped to improve local school attendance rates.

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