AQW 706/11-15

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 971/10, to detail the rate per thousand of 15 to 17 year old pupils who have less than eighty five percent attendance, broken down by (i) local council area; and (ii) electoral ward within each local council area; and what action is being 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 facilitates in-depth analysis of patterns, levels of absence, type of absence, reason for absence by Education & Library Board, school management type as well as pupil characteristics, such as age, gender, ethnicity and free school meal entitlement. This informs 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 we need to be more innovative.
Young people who see their time at school as relevant are more likely to stay engaged with education and more likely to succeed and do well. This in turn contributes to raising standards and impacts positively on the economy. The post 14 curriculum is designed to offer pupils access to a broad and balanced curriculum which meets their needs, interests and aspirations with clear progression pathways.
My Department regards non-attendance as a symptom of an underlying problem and additional programmes are in place to address the issues which are faced by vulnerable groups such as Traveller pupils , looked after children and school age mothers. Research commissioned by the Department on attendance at post-primary school by looked after children has recently been completed which will inform future guidance to schools.
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 also supports schools through proactive work on attendance strategies and advising on attendance policy.