AQW 705/11-15

Mr Roy Beggs
Ulster Unionist Party
East Antrim

Tabled Date: 09/06/2011
Answered On Date: 16/06/2011
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of Education, pursuant to AQW 970/10, to detail the rate per thousand of primary school pupils who have less than eighty-five percent attendance, broken down by (i) each local council area; and (ii) electoral ward within each local council area; and what actions are been taken to reduce levels of absenteeism.

I have arranged for the information requested to be placed in the Assembly Library.
The Department now has three years detailed information which will facilitate more in-depth analysis of patterns, levels of absence, type of absence, reason for absence by Education & Library Board and school management type as well as pupil characteristics, such as age, gender, ethnicity and free school meal entitlement. This will inform how current approaches to tackling poor attendance might be more effectively tailored and targeted on types of absence or particular areas or schools and when there is a need to be more innovative.
The Education Welfare Service (EWS) receives referrals from schools when pupils’ attendance is a cause for concern or when attendance drops below 85%. The EWS supports schools, advises on attendance policy and strategies and offers interventions such as the Primary Attendance Matters (PAM) programme where the school is helped to analyse its attendance data, identify issues and explore ways of tackling them within their own resources. It also offers the programme, “The Big Move”, to prepare Year 7 pupils for transition to post-primary school.
My Department regards non-attendance at school as a symptom of an underlying problem and additional steps are being taken to address the issues which are faced by vulnerable groups such as Traveller pupils and looked after children.