No support for school Drop-outs – Naughten

Roscommon and Leitrim are the only counties in the country without an Educational Welfare Officer for children who drop out of school, according to Deputy Denis Naughten. 62 children have dropped out of local schools and others are at risk of leaving the education system. ‘All the research in this area indicates that early intervention is more effective when poor school attendance patterns have been established than action taken after a student has ceased attending school,’ explained Deputy Naughten. ‘Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) are employed to deal with school attendance and intervene early in crisis cases but only one-quarter of the necessary EWOs are in operation in the country. Despite recommendations that 360 are needed nationally, the FF Government has only employed 83 EWOs making early intervention near impossible.  ‘Educational Welfare Officers play a pivotal role in implementing the service provided by the National Educational Welfare Board through monitoring school attendance and working to improve it. The EWOs also help parents that are experiencing a difficulty with getting a school place for their child.’  Deputy Naughten added: ‘At present there are there are 41 15-year olds in Roscommon and 21 in Leitrim who have dropped out of school and many more at risk of dropping out. However, despite this figure the Government has refused to employ the necessary staff to deal with the issue.  ‘With 62 15-year-olds ceasing education in Roscommon and Leitrim and the numbers dropping out nationally doubling, it is clear that this is a massive problem. The current response from Government is simply not good enough and we are seeing the result of Government inaction in Roscommon and Leitrim, where there is not even one Educational Welfare Officer appointed to deal with the problem.  ‘The necessary education supports have not been put in place and it is the children who become early school leavers that are paying the price for this gross failure.’