3k WELB pupils referred to truancy troubleshooters

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Over three thousand pupils were referred to the education system’s truancy troubleshooters across the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) between 2007-8 and 2011-12.

A Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) report on Improving Pupil Attendance (NIAO) points out that there were 3,266 referrals to the Education Welfare Service (EWS) in WELB over the period.

“The EWS is a specialist education support service which seeks to help young people of compulsory school age and their families get the best out of the education system,” the NIAO report explains.

“Its aim is to promote a culture of regular attendance at school,” it adds.

There was an overall improvement across Northern Ireland since the NIAO last audited attendance rates ten years ago.

It suggests, however, that more work is required to further improve the problem.

It points out that “poor attendance at school can have an irreversible and long-term impact on the absent pupil.”

Two schools in WELB - including the maintained Broadbridge Primary School - were visited in 2010-11 as part of the audit.

The Eglinton school reported an attendance rate of 96.8 per cent, which was above the 94.8 per cent NI average.

St Comhghall’s College in Lisnaskea was the other WELB school visited.

It recorded a 95.6 per cent attendance rate. This was also above the 92.6 per cent NI average.