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Hazzard welcomes Minister's pledge to tackle pupil absence

24 September, 2014 - by Chris Hazzard

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Chris Hazzard has welcomed what he describes as a 'positive response' from the Department of Education in regards to a recent Public Accounts Committee report into pupil absenteeism. 

Mr Hazzard said:

"The Minister has accepted all six of the Public Accounts Commitee's recommendations regarding the urgent need to tackle the enduring issue of pupil absence . Significantly the decision to establish an over-arching Absence Strategy will be vital in tackling this issue. 

"In light of this the Education department have begun to engage with a wide range of stakeholders so that a far-reaching and extensive consultation will inform such an important strategy in future. 

"The department have also confirmed that they will now review guidelines for Extended Schools Programmes to ensure that, where appropriate, they will include specific reference to supporting attendance and promoting engagement and involvement by vulnerable children at greatest risk of underachievement. 

"Furthermore the Minister has signalled his intention to commission a fundamental review of the Education Welfare Service. 

Mr Hazzard concluded:

"I would agree with the Minister that the issue of absenteeism extends beyond the reach of education interests, so I further welcome confirmation that the department of Education will examine how interdepartmental structures might be harnessed to promote the importance of school attendance. 

"I would also reiterate the importance of parents and families taking an active interest in their young people's education, as an encouraging educational environment at home can have a hugely positive effect on the learning process in school." 

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