Safety concerns are now being addressed

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Health and safety concerns reported at three teaching centres for vulnerable young people in Londonderry are being dealt with as a matter of urgency, the Education Authority (EA) has confirmed.

Last week the Sentinel reported how inspectors had asked the Authority to urgently address significant areas for improvement at the Maydown Centre and the Laurel Centre, which are on a shared site, as well as at the Longtower Youth Centre.

All provide out-of-school provision for up to 40 young people that have social, emotional and behaviour difficulties and histories of non-attendance at school.

A spokesperson for the Education Authority said: “The Education Authority welcomes the outcomes and findings of the ETI inspection report in respect of Education Otherwise than at School (EOTAS) in the Foyle area.

“The areas identified for improvement are a high priority for the Education Authority and are being addressed without delay. Health and Safety concerns experienced by EOTAS are also being dealt with as a matter of urgency.”

An inspection of the three Foyle Education Other Than At School (EOTAS) centres was conducted by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) in September.

Whilst provision was found to be good in some areas - the outreach support service provided by the Foyle EOTAS service was very effective, for example - and both staff and pupils are praised in the report, major failings were found elsewhere.

“The attendance of the Key Stage 4 young people in the Maydown and Longtower Centres requires significant improvement; in 2014 the average attendance in the Maydown Centre was 69 per cent whilst the average attendance at the Longtower Centre in 2014 was 56 per cent.

“Raising attendance in the Maydown and Longtower Centres is an issue for the service and is impacting on the standards being achieved by the young people,” the inspectors reported.

“The Laurel Centre’s data indicates that within the 2014 cohort of nine young people who attended, only three successfully re-integrated back to their school and have maintained their places with support.

“In the cohort of young people who attended in 2013 only three of the eight young people successfully re-integrated back to mainstream post-primary school,” they added.