Levels of truancy in Northern Ireland are around twice that in
England with almost 5,000 pupils being out of school without
justification each day, says a report by auditors.
At its most extreme, two Belfast schools were found to have
unauthorised absence rates of 11 per cent, says the study by the
Northern Ireland Audit Office.
Last year, 3,012 primary school pupils (1.8 per cent) and an
“alarming” 8,732 post-primary pupils (5.6 per cent)
were referred to the boards’ Education Welfare Service (EWS) as
persistent or chronic non-attenders, it says.
And in the three years up to 2002-03 there was a 70 percent
increase in EWS referrals among primary school pupils at Key Stage
1 (age 8).
The education department is concerned at the potential for poor
employment prospects later in life and in the social costs of
remedying this, says the report.