An action plan on school absenteeism needs to be immediately implemented in North Antrim given it is home to two of the top 10 worst offending wards in NI.
That was the call issued to the Minister for Education by local UUP MLA Robin Swann following a Stormont adjournment debate on the issue.
Mr Swann said: “I wanted this debate in the Minister’s presence because, in the figures for the post-primary schools where attendance is less than 85%, two of the top 10 worst offending electoral wards in Northern Ireland unfortunately fall in my constituency of North Antrim. The third worst is Ballee in Ballymena and the ninth is Bushmills in the Moyle.
“In real terms, the 2011-12 absence rates in Northern Ireland primary and post-primary schools are, on average, nine days missed for each pupil at primary school and 13 at post-primary school. Although overall attendance levels have improved, the Northern Ireland rates are still double those for England.
“While others may say North Antrim as a whole is “on average” no better nor no worse than most of Northern Ireland, that’s not good enough for me, as we are failing the pupils in those areas if we don’t try to do something to correct this” said Assemblyman Swann.