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100,000 KIDS MITCHING; Older & poorer more likely to skip class.

Byline: BY CLAIRE BRENNAN

MORE than 100,000 Irish children miss more than 20 days of school a year, figures revealed yesterday.

A survey by the National Educational Welfare Board showed older students are more likely to skip class.

And children in disadvantaged areas are far more prone to missing days than other youngsters.

Every day around 55,000 children countrywide are absent from school - 27,000 in primary and 28,000 in secondary.

This represents a loss of 12 school days every year per primary student and 13 school days a year for older pupils.

Teachers have blasted the results but claim they cannot take all the blame.

Secondary teachers' union the ASTI said the Government must play a bigger part in the future of the younger generation.

Secretary John White added: "The report states that school absenteeism is a complex matter requiring investment in a range of supports for children, families and schools.

"This statement follows a Budget which will cut many of the supports currently in place for children and young people at risk of absenteeism and drop out, their families and their schools." The shocking results also show a little more than one in 10 primary school students and one in six post-primary students are missing 20 days or more during the school year, a total of 105,000 youngsters.

Mr White warned that 2008's results can only get worse if harsh cutbacks, due to be implemented in the New Year, go ahead.

He said: "School attendance has a significant impact on the future life chances of our young people.

"Regular attendance is the number one factor determining student achievement and school completion.

"The education service must be resourced in a way that supports all of our children and young people."

The report highlighted links between poor attendance and what it described as "other indicators of educational disadvantage" like family background and possible learning difficulties.

Chief executive of NEWB Eddie Ward yesterday said: "The high response rates by schools show how seriously they take this issue.

"It's important to get the message across that every school day counts."

55,000 children absent from school every day in Ireland

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 12, 2008
Words:369
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