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Labour continues to deliver on education reform - Ó Ríordáin

Posted on August 21, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Aodhan O Riordain

Reflecting on my first full Dáil term, the issue of education reform remains one of the key highlights. Against a backdrop of huge financial difficulties and unprecedented demand, I was proud that the Labour Party continued to deliver on its education reform agenda.

The last Dáil term saw the commissioning of 275 new schools and refurbishments across Ireland which will thankfully see school prefabs as a thing of the past. More recently, €280 million out of the Government's €2.25 billion economic Stimulus Package will be spent on education, which will help see the new DIT Grangegorman campus come to fruition.

I especially welcome the work done by the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector. This autumn a number of parents will be surveyed about the type of schools they would like to send their children to and I look forward to the publication of these important results.

As a former teacher in Sheriff Street, I am aware of the huge problem of student absenteeism and the devastating consequences it has on student learning and development. During the last Dáil term, I had the opportunity to discuss this with local groups on how as a community we could have this issue resolved. On the back of these discussions, in May, I launched the Education Welfare Amendment Bill which I hope will tackle infant school absenteeism.

I believe that schools and the National Education & Welfare Board must be empowered to intervene at an early stage to address patterns of poor school attendance. My aim in publishing this Bill is that all children of all ages enrolled in primary schools come under the remit of the Education Welfare Act, so that where poor attendance patterns are evident, interventions can take place. Currently this Bill has been published, waiting to be heard and in the next Dáil term I look forward to seeing its progression.

Many challenges lie ahead with no doubt many difficult decisions to be made, but together with my party colleagues, I remain up for the challenge.

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