Putting Ireland top of the class for school completion : Minister Katherine Zappone

Putting Ireland top of the class for school completion : Minister Katherine Zappone

Putting Ireland top of the class for school completion ‘Joined up Educational Welfare Services will deliver for children, young people and families’

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, has announced plans for continuing and building upon the work in creating a joined up approach to Educational Welfare Services so that Ireland will remain an international leader for numbers of children finishing secondary school.

School Completion Programme

Currently 92% of children and young people complete second level, which compares very favourably with other EU countries. The most recent figures for the 2016/2017 school year indicate that some 37,000 children, attending 691 schools have had access to a School Completion Programme.

In recent months the Minister has been working with her officials and the Educational Welfare Services of Tusla along with other stakeholders to try and ensure that our supports to keep all children attending classes remain the best in the world.

Minister Zappone has announced that work on putting in place improvements will be completed before the end of the year, and will take into account observations made by frontline workers and experts, and will be informed by the findings of a number of reports carried out on the programme including those carried out by the ESRI and Pobal.

“At the outset I would like to acknowledge the significant work of the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) in improving the school lives of children and young people throughout the country. 

This work has ensured that more students than ever before are staying in school until they complete the Senior Cycle. This is a remarkable achievement and one which Ireland is justifiably proud of.

However, I believe that we can achieve more for our children and young people through ensuring that the services available to them are as ‘joined up’ and integrated as possible. “

Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools

The Minister said that in order to achieve this, a comprehensive and coordinated policy basis to structure and support co-operation between DEIS Schools (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the Home Community Liason Scheme, the Educational Welfare Officers who work to ensure all children attend school and prevent patterns of non school attendance emerging, and School Completion Programmes operated by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is required.

Our aim is to build on the significant foundational work carried out to date. I want to see a service that is fully integrated and responsive to meet the needs and aspirations of our children and young people who are at risk of early school leaving. As such I have requested that my Department establish a Task Group to scope a policy blueprint.

This week I am writing to the dedicated professionals who are working everyday on the ground in communities and schools across the country to inform them of my plans to convene this task group and to assure them that their views on the future of the School Completion Programme will be crucial to the work of the group.

I want this process to be concluded by no later than the end of this year.

My Officials will, in the coming weeks, engage with Tusla EWS and the Department of Education and Skills to ensure preparatory work is in place for the establishment of a tight and time-bound Task Group in September. The focus of the Task Group will be to consider the range of issues such as governance, the legislative position, and integrated delivery considerations that need to be advanced, and to set these out in a coherent policy.”

Minister Zappone concluded:

“Having listened to many of the people working in this area I want to ensure that the richness and diversity of their experience – and indeed expertise – contributes to this process.

Ensuring we continue keeping children in classes has been the focus of much discussion. In the coming months we will begin to deliver the fruits of those discussions.”

For more information visit https://www.dcya.gov.ie/docs/EN/14-08-2018-Putting-Ireland-top-of-the-class-for-school-completion%C2%A0/4861.htm