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Early School Leavers.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 February 2005

Thursday, 3 February 2005

Ceisteanna (26)

Gay Mitchell

Ceist:

22 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if the objective to improve significantly the numbers sitting the leaving certificate by the end of the decade will be achieved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2941/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Education and Science)

The most recently published analysis by my Department of retention rates at second level was released in August 2003. The report indicates that of those pupils who commenced the junior cycle programme in September 1994, approximately 12,500, or 18.2%, left school without the leaving certificate. My Department is currently preparing reports on the 1995 and 1996 cohorts.

My Department's approach to addressing the issue of early school leaving comprises legislative and curricular reforms as well as preventative interventions.

The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 established the National Educational Welfare Board, NEWB, as the single national body with responsibility for school attendance. The allocation for the NEWB in 2005 is €7.8 million, an increase of €1.3 million or 20% on the 2004 provision.

With regard to curriculum reform, my Department's strategies have included widening the educational experience available to students through such programmes as the junior certificate schools programme, JCSP, the leaving certificate vocational programme, LCVP, and the leaving certificate applied, LCA.

Following the publication in 2003 by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, of Directions for Development — Developing Senior Cycle Education, the NCCA has carried out further analyses and consultation in the lead-up to its presentation of advice and recommendations on the future of senior cycle. I look forward to consideration of the matter when I receive the next stage of the NCCA advice on the proposals shortly.

The school completion programme directly targets those in danger of dropping out of the education system and is a key component of my Department's strategy to discriminate positively in favour of children and young people who are at risk of early school leaving. Other programmes that contribute to tackling early school leaving include the home school community liaison scheme, which helps children to make the transition from primary to post-primary school.

My Department is currently finalising an overall review of educational disadvantage programmes. The purpose of this is to put in place a new action plan that will build on what has been achieved to date, adopt a more systematic, targeted and integrated approach and strengthen the capacity of the system to meet the educational needs of disadvantaged children and young people.

I am confident that all of these measures will significantly improve the numbers sitting the leaving certificate.

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