Northern Ireland school attendance: Department of Education criticised

The BBC is reporting that a Department of Education official has said it has been at fault in its “relentless focus on achievement”…

Paul Sweeney was giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on a recent Audit Office (NIAO) follow-up report on improving pupil attendance.

The report found while overall attendance levels had improved, the level of unauthorised absence had increased.

The rate in Northern Ireland was double that in England.

Mr Sweeney said he thought the department had not been “focussed enough and targeted enough around attendance”.

However, he said the department had acted after the initial NIAO report in 2007.

“We didn’t sit on out hands. We took a whole range of opportunities,” he said.

In reply to a question from committee chairwoman Michaela Boyle of Sinn, Féin, Mr Sweeney said a strategy on addressing pupil absence would be published in “somewhere between 12 to 18 months”…

The Comptroller and Auditor-General Kieran Donnelly was asked for his comments on the session.

He said he had been “heartened” by some of the comments made by Mr Sweeney.

“I think it’s very important to dwell on the 20,000 children that missed more than six weeks per year,” he said.

More at: School attendance: Department of Education criticised

Does a year to 18 months for the publication of a strategy to address pupil absence sound reasonable? Especially if this has been recognised as an issue since 2007? Id your involved in schools in NI please tell us what you think…

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