Dáil Éireann - Volume 502 - 23 March, 1999

Written Answers. - Early School Leavers.

77. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of students who dropped out of the system after primary level in each of the past three years; the action, if any, his Department has taken in [523] relation to these children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7797/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): The annual census of ordinary primary schools conducted by my Department's statistics

section indicates the following levels of drop out from the primary system during the period in question:

Destination

Left between

1994/95 & 95/96

Left between

1995/96 & 96/97

Left between 1996/97 & 97/98

No. of pupils who did not go on to any school

347

296

321

No. of pupils whose destination is unknown

508

601

414

855

897

735

My Department has a number of strategies in place to help prevent early school leaving. These include the allocation of additional staffing and funding resources to schools in disadvantaged areas; the Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage Initiative; the home-school-community liaison service; and the eight to 15 year old early school leavers initiative.

I recently announced a major £57 million package to tackle educational disadvantage across the education system. This plan included the allocation of extra teaching resources to facilitate the extension of the remedial teaching service to all first and second level schools and the extension of the home-school-community liaison service to all first and second level schools with disadvantaged status.

In addition, £3.68 million is being committed to the eight to 15 year old early school leavers initiative over the two school years 1998-99 and 1999-2000.

The forthcoming Education (Welfare) Bill, which is currently undergoing detailed drafting and will be published shortly, will provide for the introduction of a comprehensive school attendance service. The legislation will also include specific measures for the early identification and support of children who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of the school system.