Dr Padraig Kirk has said that there is a growing need for schools and parents to work more closely together in tackling the issue of non-attendance at school
The CEO made his comments this week as post-primary schools closed their doors to students for the forthcoming summer period.
“While it is essential for everybody involved to ensure, encourage and support school attendance on an on-going basis all year round, it was becoming apparent that there were certain times of the school year when it needed to be afforded particular attention,” he said.
“A worrying pattern of non-attendance among a growing cohort of students is developing during days in the run up to long periods of school closure, such as summer, Easter and Christmas breaks.”
The CEO said that management personnel in each of the VEC’s post-primary schools across the county reported an increase in student absences in the run up to the current summer holiday period.
“This phenomenon is not unique to our schools only, all schools had to be feeling the effects,” he said.
There are only 167 tuition days throughout the year at post-primary level, while at primary level the number of tuition days rises to 183.
Dr Kirk added: “The number of days currently available to tuition were precious enough never mind students being absent from school unnecessarily.
“All absences need ‘bona fide’ reasons, and all needed to be accounted for at school level.”
Schools are obliged to report cases where an individual student is absent for 20 days or more during the school year to the National Education Welfare Board.
“All relevant parties, including schools, teachers and parents, needed to live up to their responsibilities in ensuring that children attended school regularly,” he said.
Dr Kirk said that he would be working with the principals of each VEC school going forward to ensure that everything possible that could be done was being done to encourage school attendance at these critical times.
“Schools should not take the foot off when holiday time approaches,” he said.