Jersey needs ‘greater understanding‘ about ‘significant’ rate of truancy

Royal Square, States Building. States members going into the States Chamber. Richard Vibert, Constable of St Peter Picture: ROB CURRIE. (37637176)

JERSEY has a “significant” number of children who go missing from school, a Scrutiny panel has heard.

Children’s Minister Richard Vibert admitted that neither he nor his officials could give the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel figures to quantify the extent of truancy in the Island.

But, he said that the numbers were significant and that it was “early days” for him to say whether progress was being made

“One does worry what these children are actually doing when they are not at school. Where are they? Who do they meet with? Are they then drawn into criminal activity? There is ongoing work to look at that [but] I think we need an even greater understanding of that and we need to link in with Education, who are now separate but closely linked with us,” Mr Vibert said.

CYPES chief officer Rob Sainsbury said that the intensive youth support service had a dedicated education element which was becoming successful, having already attracted 12 youngsters who would not have attended school but who were being educated by the service.

“We need to build on that,” Mr Sainsbury said.

The Highlands-based programme was introduced for the first time last year under the direction of the Youth Service, and a new team manager was recently appointed, Mr Sainsbury told the panel.

“We are looking to build numbers. One of the benefits with the through-life learning component of the department and Skills Jersey and Highlands with its proximity is that we are looking to change the vocational pathways so that, for children who will be accessing education, there is a way of having [a] fast track to both academic and vocational routes. Often those children are finding interest in the vocational routes. We want to build on that and that’s one of the areas that I know the Education Minister is wanting to support through that Skills [Jersey] and Highlands element. It’s where our services connect, I guess,” Mr Sainsbury said.

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