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11th Aug 2023

Over 150 families summonsed over children missing so many days of school

Jody Coffey

A total of 177 summonses were issued by Tusla.

The summonses issued by the Child and Family agency were due to children missing too many days of school since the beginning of last year.

Tusla reported that 52 summonses had been sent to parents or guardians in the first six months of this year; 32 for primary school kids and 20 for secondary school students.

Of those summonses,  seven involved families in Dublin, and 11 involved families in Co. Longford, 10 in Co. Meath.

There were also summonses for truancy in eight other counties.

However, Tusla did not reveal the exact numbers due to risk of the identifying the individual children involved.

The have stated, however, that the summonses for truancy were low.

Last year, 125 separate summonses were issued by Tusla; 76 of them for primary school children and 49 for students in secondary education.

There were 22 cases in Limerick, 11 cases in Co. Clare, nine in Co. Kerry and Co. Roscommon, repetitively, eight in Co. Dublin, and six in Co. Kildare.

Over a quarter of these cases were in Co. Galway, where 32 sets of proceedings were commenced by the agency.

Schools are required by legislation to report attendance of students and must record absences as ‘explained’ and ‘unexplained’ and report this to Tusla.

This includes any instance where a child has missed more than 20 days of school.

However, not all absences result in intervention, especially in the cases where reasonable explanation can be provided such as illnesses or family emergencies.

If a school is satisfied with the reason provided for an absence, it will be documented as ‘explained’ but if an absence is ‘unexplained’, the principal may make a referral to the Educational Welfare Service if they have concerns regarding the absence(s).

The Education Welfare Service, which have offices throughout Ireland, aim to offer support and guidance to parents and schools over attendance issues, according to Tusla.