60,000 students miss school every day

Tusla Education Support Service (TESS) launched their first ever School Attendance Drive, with more than 300 schools in Cork involved, writes NOEL KELLY, Director of TESS
60,000 students miss school every day
Áine O’Keeffe, National Manager, Tess; Noel Kelly, Director, Tess, along with Attendance Achievement Award Winners Ellen O’Sullivan, DJ O’Toole, and Siobhán Lennon.

EACH school day, 60,000 Irish primary and post-primary students miss school.

Earlier this month, at the Mansion House in Dublin, Tusla Education Support Service, or TESS, launched its first national School Attendance Drive, ‘Every School Day Counts’.

The drive, which is ongoing throughout the month of November, will see more than 300 schools in Cork getting involved to promote regular school attendance.

Traditionally, November is the month where school attendance dips and tess is promoting the drive to encourage children, young people, parents and schools to come together with the wider community and endeavour to make “Every School Day Count” this November and throughout the coming school year.

Each school day approximately 60,000 students miss school in Ireland. Already, over 1,700 schools right across the country have signed up to the drive and will be running attendance initiatives in their schools throughout the month.

Addressing over 350 attendees at the launch, including government representatives, education professionals, children and young people, Chief Executive of Tusla, Bernard Gloster said: “Research has shown again and again that regular school attendance is vital in helping children get the best possible start in life. It lays the foundation for developing good social skills, building relationships and achieving success later in life.

“Children who attend school regularly are more likely to stay in school and achieve better educational outcomes.”

During the launch, the service also unveiled its new name and logo as part of a brand refresh project, which highlights the supports available through the three service strands – Educational Welfare Service; Home School Community Liaison Scheme; and the School Completion Programme. These services work with children, young people, parents, schools and community family support services to improve attendance, participation and retention.

Access to education is a child’s right. We know that investing in education is the most effective way of offsetting the impact of poverty and helps create a level playing field — which gives children from disadvantaged backgrounds a better chance to reach their potential.

Equal access to educational opportunities has the power to pull families and communities out of the cycle of poverty which in turn can help generations to come.

The focus of our work in tess is to give additional support to the most marginalised 8% of children and young people in our education system who are most likely to leave school early without any qualifications.

ABOUT THE REBRAND

I’m was delighted to reveal our new name and logo. The overall aim of the process is to educate the public on the services we provide to ensure that anyone in need of support, can access the right service, at the right time. Over 150 children, young people, parents, schools and staff were engaged in this brand refresh process, to ensure the new name and look resonated with its users and reflected the supportive services it provides.”

Maria Tobin, National Manager, tess, highlighted the importance of parental involvement in the attendance drive stating that: “Regular school attendance is critical to a child’s success and parental involvement is the key to regular attendance.

“We know that every parent wants the best for their child, that is why tess, through its Home School Community Liaison Scheme, works directly with parents in their home, in the schools and communities to help find solutions to attendance issues.”

The vision of the Home School Community Liaison Scheme (HSCL) is largely preventative — seeking to promote and develop real partnership between parents, teachers and communities, ultimately enhancing pupils’ outcomes and learning opportunities, through improved attendance, participation and retention in the education system. 40,000 parents avail of HSCL services and support each year.

The importance of school attendance cannot be understated and the attendance drive initiatives could significantly decrease absences throughout the school year if parents and students are made aware of how absences can accumulate. For example — if a child misses two school days each month this can equal 20 days or four weeks in a school year. Likewise, missing 20 days in a school year can equal almost one full year of school missed by the time a student finishes their primary school education. Even missing just 15 minutes of each school day can add up to over three full weeks of learning in a year.

Aine O’Keeffe, National Manager of tess, says that supports are available for concerned parents and students: “We are aware that some children, young people and their families require support around school attendance.

“Our School Completion Programme provides targeted supports to students at risk of early school leaving and our Statutory Educational Welfare Service works with families and students when supports are required to ensure a student has a school place and is attending school regularly”.

The School Completion Programme aims to retain a young person to completion of the leaving certificate, or equivalent qualification enabling them to transition into further education, training or employment.

For more information on the services and supports available through tess visit https://www.tusla.ie/services/educational-welfare-services/

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