What is the Role of the Education Welfare Service?
We work in partnership with the young people, their families, the schools, other education services as well as statutory and voluntary agencies.
What is the Law?
Young people are educated because the law says there is an entitlement to education for 12 years (7 primary, 5 secondary). In fact most children go to school and enjoy the opportunities school has to offer. However, some young people have attendance or other problems that they need help to overcome. It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that their children go to school. EWS following assessment can apply for an Education Supervision Orders or Parental Prosecution for parents/carers whose children are not attending school on a regular basis.
What happens when School attendance is poor?
The School will refer a young person to the EWS if their attendance is causing concern. The Education Welfare Officer (EWO) will contact the parent/carer and support them in trying to improve. All EWO’s work in a partnership with Parents/Carers and other support agencies to ensure young people attend school and attain.
What does an EWO do?
An Education Welfare Officer:
- will meet with the school to respond to written referrals
- make an assessment of the situation and establish a support plan with the young person, parent and school
- can act on a parent’s request to talk to the young person’s school or other agencies on their behalf.
- can make referrals to other support services e.g. Medical officer or Educational Psychologist.
- can tell families about other specialist support projects in the area e.g. EOTAS, Parent or Pupil Support Groups.
What happens if school attendance does not improve?
If there is no improvement the EWO will have to:
- Ask you to attend a Family Consultation Meeting
- Convene a School Attendance Panel Meeting
- Convene an Education Planning Meeting, involving Social Services and other agencies. If the situation does not improve then the decision can be made to apply to the court for an Order or prosecute the parent/carer.
What does the school do?
The school will keep a parent informed if there are concerns about a pupil’s attendance. They will advise a parent/carer when they make a referral to the EWS.
The school will work in partnership with the parent/carer, the Education Welfare Officer and any other agencies involved with a family.
The Welfare of the Child
The Education Welfare Service works under the principles of the Children (NI) Order 1995, Human Rights Act 1998 and has a commitment to the United Nations Convention of the Right of the Child. These Principles include:
- The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in all matters.
- The child’s voice should be heard and taken into account in all matters relating to the child.
- The child has a right to free and compulsory education.