The Education Welfare Act 2000 promotes school attendance and Section 17 of the legislation states that it is a statutory obligation on parents to ensure their child attends a recognised school once registered in the school. Furthermore, where a child is absent from the school, the parent is required under the Act to notify the Principal of the school of the reason for the child’s absence. The Act states that the relevant authorities will be informed of pupils who have been absent for twenty school days or more (this includes illness, holidays outside school holidays etc.) Children deemed at risk will be registered with the National Educational Welfare on-line and their attendance regularly recorded.
A meeting was held on the 27th October 2005 with representatives from the teaching staff, Parents’ Association and Board of Management. Strategies for improving attendance were discussed and decisions made on encouraging good attendance and registering children with the NEWB. In June 2008, following the appointment of Ms. Marie Fitzpatrick, Education Welfare Officer a target was set to improve the attendance of 38 pupils (identified by teachers as a real concern) by 50% by the end of June 2009.
In June 2009 two awards were introduced to the school in recognition of Good Attendance.
The Satish Perpetual Trophy Family Award : Lokesh Satish was a pupil in our school from 2006 - 2009. His father Satish spoke to Mrs. Feeley, principal about schools in India that award the family when their children are good attenders.Satish said he would like to sponsor such an award for a family in Scoil Mhuire. In June 2009, the Zia family - Ghadaq (2nd class), Nihaal (Senior Infants) and Shaheer (Junior Infants) were presented with the award as Nihaal and Shaheer were in school every day since September 1st 2008 and Ghadaq had only missed 2 days. Congratulations to the Zia family.
The best Individual Attendance award was presented to Louise Mc Conn who has not missed a day of school since she was in Junior Infants. Louise has just completed 5th class.
Encouraging Good Attendance:
Parents will be reminded in September and June (with school calendar) of the importance of punctuality and regular attendance in school. All children from 1st – 6th classes have a school journal with the school calendar in it reminding parents of the NEWB regulations and the obligation of the school to inform the NEWB when necessary.
Parents will be discouraged from taking holidays during school time and it was agreed that work would not be sent home with children, to do while they are on holiday. Teachers should not do anything to facilitate parents taking children on holidays during school time.
In May 2008 Ms. Olivia Ward, Assistant Principal met with Marie Fitzpatrick, Education Welfare Officer, NEWB. It was agreed to do the following:
•Teachers will keep Ms. Ward informed of the children they are concerned about, and these names, with the number of days missed, will be forwarded by Ms. Ward to Ms. Fitzpatrick.
•In the second week of August Ms. Fitzpatrick will send a cautionary letter to the parents of the children identified above
•In early October Ms. Fitzpatrick will meet with Ms. Ward to examine again the attendance of the children identified above.
•Ms. Fitzpatrick will visit families and warn them of the outcomes which could include court action unless attendance improves.
•Teachers indicate on a grid, sent with the ‘Number Book’ every morning, the children who are absent. This means the principal has up-to-date information at hand with regard to children who are at risk re: attendance.
•Children with full attendance in the school year are awarded a certificate from the principal at the end of June with a reward.
Role of Parents:
•The parent of a child shall cause the child concerned to attend a recognised school on each school day
•Where a child is absent from the school where s/he is registered, the parent of the child is required under the Act to notify the school of the reason for the child’s absence. Letters from parents concerning illness and doctor’s certificates will be kept on file in the school for one year. If a child has missed more than 20
Role of the Principal:
•To inform the relevant authorities in writing, where a student is absent in excess of twenty school days in a school year, where a student is suspended for a period in excess of 6 school days, where a student’s name is removed from the register or where, in the opinion of the Principal the student is not attending regularly.
•Informs the Board of Management of school attendance
•Communicates to a school, to which a student is transferring any problem relating to school attendance and other appropriate matters relating to the child’s educational progress.
•Reports annually to the Parent’s Association on the overall attendance of children in the school.