Regular school attendance is crucial if the pupils of Cadamstown National School are to achieve their potential and meet the three general aims set out by the Primary School Curriculum 1999:
Function of the school Attendance Policy:
The importance of regular school attendance
The importance of regular school attendance cannot be overestimated. Regular attendance is a prerequisite to a good education and therefore must be a high priority for school staff, parents and the pupils. By failing to attend school regularly, pupils diminish the value of education provided for them. They may also damage the learning of others because fluctuations in the size of pupil group may restrict the scope for effective teaching.
The legislation governing school attendance in Ireland is the Education (Welfare) Act 2000.
The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the national agency established to ensure that every child attends school regularly, or otherwise receives an appropriate minimum education. It also advises the Government on school attendance and education provision. The Board’s emphasis is on helping schools, families and children, rather than imposing penalties for non-attendance at school. It employs educational welfare officers at local level throughout the country to provide support and advice to parents and schools and to follow up on absences from school.
The NEWB published an analysis of school attendance at primary and post primary schools which states that from 2003/2004 to 2005/2006 the national level of non-attendance in primary schools was over 6% or 12 days absence on average for each student. In post-primary schools the level of non-attendance was about 8% or 13 days absence on average for each student.
The staff of Cadamstown National School are obliged to keep a register of the students attending the school. They must also maintain attendance records for all students and inform the NEWB if a child is absent for more than 20 days in a school year.
The principal must also inform the NEWB if, in his view, a student has an attendance problem. This could arise if the student is not coming to school without any explanation from the parent.
School Attendance Strategy
The Board of Management of Cadamstown National School has prepared this school attendance policy and submitted it to the NEWB. This policy encourages, in a positive way, regular school attendance and an appreciation of learning within the school.
Parents should inform the school of any planned absences e.g. appointments, family matters beforehand. If the child is sick and will be absent for longer than three days the parent should ring and inform the class teacher.
Cadamstown National School will make an initial attempt to address irregular attendance as soon as it is identified. The class teacher will contact parents and inform them how many days their child has missed and see how this could be improved.
Parents should provide a written note to explain all absences even if the teacher was informed orally. They can do this by using the “Absence Notes” section in the back of the Homework Journal. The teacher will gather up these notes at the end of the school year.
The NEWB strongly advises against taking children out of school to go on holiday during term-time.
Under the Education Welfare Act 2000 parents must inform the school if their children will be absent from school on a school day and the reason for the absence, for example, illness. It is best to do this in writing. Parents and guardians have a legal obligation to ensure that their child attends a school or otherwise receives an education. If the NEWB considers that a parent is failing in his or her obligation, it must send the parent a School Attendance Notice warning that legal action would follow if the child did not attend school regularly. Before doing this, it must make reasonable efforts to consult with the parents and the child. If the parent fails to comply, he or she may be prosecuted. If convicted, the parent may be fined €634.87 and/or imprisoned for a month and fined €253.95 for each subsequent day that he or she fails to send the child to school. If the parent claims that suitable alternative education is being provided, he or she must prove this. It will be a defence for the parents to show that they have made all reasonable efforts to send the child to school – in such cases, the Health Service Executive (HSE) must be informed.
The NEWB leaflet for parents “Don’t let your child miss out” is available and attached to this policy.
With the consent of the parents, the NEWB may arrange for an examination of the intellectual, emotional or physical development of a child. If the parent refuses consent, the NEWB may apply to the Circuit Court for an order that the examination be carried out. The Circuit Court may grant the order if it is satisfied that the child’s behaviour, lack of educational progress or regular absence from school without a reasonable excuse warrants an examination.
What can parents do to help?
Review: This policy will be reviewed at the end of each school year.
This policy was ratified by the Board of Management of SN Baile Mhic Adaim on 18/9/2012.
A copy of the policy will be made available to teachers and parents.
Signed: Fr. Gerard Breen, Date: 18/9/2012
Signed: Paddy Judge, Date: 18/9/2012