Thinking of leaving school early, find the support that is around you.
If you have clicked on this post, it is probably because you are thinking about leaving school early – this could be for any number of reasons. You may also be finding school really difficult at the moment and wondering where to go for support or help.
If you have any questions about leaving school early, you can chat online to a trained Youth Information Officer or leave us a message and we can get back to you.
1. Before you leave, there are a few things that might be good to know and worth considering;
- The legal age for leaving school is 16 or after your Junior Cert – whichever is later.
- There are fewer options for those who leave before 16 (although there are some).
- The risk of unemployment can often be higher for young people who leave school early.
However (and this is really important to know!) – formal education isn’t an absolute necessity to a successful life. There are many ways to succeed and many ways to educate yourself.
Here are other pathways to a successful education, training or jobs.
The Legal Bit!
What happens if I miss a lot of school?
- Your school must report any student that is missing for 20 days or more to the Educational Welfare Services.
If the absence is unexplained an Educational Welfare Officer will talk to the school and then may decide to contact you in an effort to improve your school attendance (this may involve a visit to your home).
An Educational Welfare Officer will help you in whatever way they can to ensure that you get and education by either going back to school regularly or receiving an education elsewhere.
For more information you can check out the Education Welfare Services.
Who is responsible for me attending school?
Under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, your parents or guardians are responsible for ensuring that you attend school or receive an education elsewhere.
Will my parents / guardians be brought to court if I miss school?
The Educational Welfare Officer has your best interests in mind and will try to provide whatever supports are needed to help you to attend school. If however, you or your family are not willing to work with the Educational Welfare Officer to make sure that you get the education you need, the matter may be referred to the courts. Legal action is the very last option.
Specific Difficulties @ School
Remember if you are unhappy in school. There are people who are willing to help and offer you support and advice on how best to improve your school experience, or discuss what other options are out there. For more information you can check out the Educational Welfare Service Contacts.
I am being bullied in school – who can help?
Your school should have an anti-bullying policy that states what will be done if someone is being bullied. Tell your parents and / or a teacher in school what is happening. Don’t try to cope with this issue alone.
I’m pregnant – do I have to leave school?
No, there is no need for you to leave school. There are supports available in the school and outside school to help you.
Home Tuition: If you are still in secondary school you may be entitled to a Home Tuition Grant for ‘students on maternity related absences’. This scheme is to provide you with home tuition if you are studying for your Junior Cert or Leaving Cert and if your education is being disrupted due to pregnancy. Under this Scheme you can get 90 hours of Home Tuition spread over 6 months according to your needs. Home Tuition is available both before and after the birth of your baby. Home Tuition Maternity Claim Form
How do I change schools?
You need to apply in writing to the school of your choice, including your age and year to which you are applying. Also request a copy of the school’s admission policy. The school should then give you a decision in writing within 21 days.
My local school won’t let me enrol, what now?
If a school has refused you a school place and you are not happy with that decision, you can appeal it, under what is called a Section 29 Appeal (see below).
I’ve been suspended (20 days or more) / expelled – what happens now?
Your school must notify the Educational Welfare Services. If you are not happy with this decision your parents (or you if you are 18+) have a right to appeal under what is called a Section 29 Appeal (see below).
Section 29 Appeal
Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 gives parents (& students who have reached the age of 18) the right to appeal certain decisions made by a school’s board of management. This includes decisions to exclude, suspend and refuse enrolment. You can do this by filling in an Appeals form which is available on request from the school or downloadable from the Dept. of Education and Skills website.
If you attend an ETB school, you must first appeal to the ETB – your school will give you a form. If unsuccessful in this appeal, you then can appeal to the
Supports @ School
Educational Welfare Services
The Educational Welfare Officers’ job is to offer advice, support and guidance to parents or guardians whose children are experiencing difficulties in going to school. They will help you in whatever way they can to ensure that you get an education by going back to school regularly or receiving an education elsewhere.
School Completion Programme Co-ordinators
Their role is to provide supports to young people aged 4-18years in order to help them to stay in school. The supports provided depend on your individual needs. Programmes include after-school supports, mentoring programmes, breakfast clubs and homework clubs.
Home / School / Community Liaison Co-ordinators
Their role is to act as a link between the school and home. They encourage parents to become more involved in a young person’s education through courses, talks, etc. They will discuss any aspect of school that may be causing anxiety or stress to a young person or a parent.
School Guidance Counsellors
Guidance Counsellors will inform and advise you of the many education, training and employment options open to you. They will help guide you through these options to choose the best one for you. If you are thinking of leaving school early, your guidance counsellor will give you information on your options after you leave. This service is available in all schools.
This may be provided when a young person (under 16) cannot go to school because of a serious medical problem or for children with special educational needs looking for a suitable school place. The Educational Welfare Officer can advise you and help you to make an application.
Special Needs Supports
The local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) provides information and assistance to parents who have children with special educational needs or those who have concerns that their children may need some extra supports.