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Written Answers. - Cork School Expulsions.

Thursday, 28 March 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 463 No. 5

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 62. Kathleen Lynch Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if her attention has been drawn to the fact that up to 30 disruptive children in the Cork area have been expelled from school and are currently without alternative education accommodation; the plans, if any, she has to provide schooling for such children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6771/96]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach Primary or second-level schools are not required to notify my Department of cases where children are suspended or otherwise excluded from [1414] schools. However, I am aware of the problem of children who are not attending school because they have been expelled or excluded from second-level schools and the related difficulties this presents for both schools and parents.

Under the rules for national schools, no pupil shall be struck off the rolls for breaches of discipline without the prior consent of the patron and unless alternative arrangements are made for the enrolment of the pupil at another suitable school.

The managerial authorities of second-level schools are responsible for ensuring that a fair and efficient code of behaviour, encompassing rules, sanctions and procedures, is drawn up and applied in the school.

Circumstances will vary from school to school and it is only those intimately involved with a particular school who can draw up the detail of a code of discipline appropriate for that school. Accordingly, the most effective method of countering indiscipline is for each individual school to draw up its own code of behaviour. In drawing up the code, school authorities should have regard to guidelines issued by my Department.

In 1990 and 1991, my Department issued Guidelines Towards a Positive Policy for School Behaviour and Discipline together with A Suggested Code of Behaviour and Discipline to all schools.

Within these guidelines individual boards are given the discretion to work out specific details. The guidelines lay considerable stress on the use of expulsion only as a last resort and I am satisfied that schools also see it in that way.

My Department gives assistance in securing placement in individual cases. Typically this can rise where a pupil has been suspended as a result of disruptive behaviour and where alternative arrangements need to be made. In these circumstances, my Department endeavours through a process of consultation with the schools and through its Inspectorate to assist in the reinstatement of [1415] the pupil in the school or alternatively, his/her placement in another school. In more difficult situations, my Department's psychological service is available to assess pupils in order to determine the nature and extent of any special needs with a view to having them addressed in the most appropriate manner. Programmes such as Youth Encounter Projects and Youthreach are designed to cater for pupils whose needs can best be dealt with outside of the mainstream school system.

I am aware that the Deputy has been in touch with officials of my Department regarding the situation in the Cork area and my Department is endeavouring to assist in relation to one particular case.

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