The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) was established in 2002 under the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, a progressive piece of legislation that emphasises the promotion of school attendance, participation and retention. The various strands of the NEWB, the School Completion Programme (SCP), the Home School Community Liaison Scheme (HSCL) and the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) work together collaboratively and cohesively to secure better educational outcomes for children and young people.
In June 2011, the functions of the National Educational Welfare Board transferred to the newly established office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The Board welcomes the significant opportunity this presents as the new Department willfocus strongly on harmonising policy issues that affect children in areas such as early childhood care, education and participation, youth justice, child welfare and protection and research.
The following is an overview of the service strands within the NEWB:
Home School Community Liaison Programme
The Home School Community Liaison programme (HSCL) is a school-based preventative strategy that is targeted at pupils who are at risk of not reaching their potential in the educational system because of background characteristics that tend to adversely affect pupil attainment and school retention. The underlying policy of the scheme is one that seeks to promote partnership between parents and teachers. The purpose of this partnership is to enhance pupils' learning opportunities and to promote their retention in the education system. It focuses directly on the adults in children's educational lives and seeks indirect benefits for the children themselves. It involves the designation of teachers in schools who take the lead in this work.
The service is co-ordinated by a National Team comprising 3 National Coordinators who provide leadership, direction, training development and co-ordination to the 402 HSCL coordinators serving 605 schools. The HSCL Coordinator must be a fully qualified teacher and a member of the staff of the school(s) in question.
The two main elements of the programme are:
- Building partnerships between parents and teachers in the interests of children's learning (home visits, courses, encouraging parental involvement with school)
- working with staff in schools to develop / encourage partnership with parents
School Completion Programme
The School Completion programme (SCP) is targeted at young people between the ages of four and 18 years who are at risk of early school leaving. The SCP is mainly aligned to DEIS schools but there are also a number of non-DEIS schools that also benefit from the service. The objective of the SCP is to provide a range of interventions and supports including breakfast clubs, mentoring programmes, counselling and other out of school initiatives. The SCP is overseen by a National Coordination Team who advise, monitor and support the local projects and retain oversight of the area-based retention plans.
SCP is a major component of the Department of Education and Skills DEIS strategy - Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools. The programme predominantly serves school communities participating in the DEIS strategy but is also available in a number of non-DEIS schools. To date, the SCP has been implemented in 470 primary schools and 224 post-primary schools.
Educational Welfare Service
The Educational Welfare Service operates through five regional teams, each of which is headed by a Regional Manager(RM)who leads a number of Senior Educational Welfare Officers (SEWO), who in turn manage a team of Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs).
EWOs are located in the most disadvantaged areas and they prioritise children who are out of school and who have no school place. The Department of Education's DEIS programme (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) is a key policy context for the work of the NEWB.
The DEIS initiative is designed to ensure that the most disadvantaged schools benefit from a range of supports, while ensuring that other schools continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage among their pupils. In accordance with Department of Education and Skills policy, the Educational Welfare Service gives priority to children attending DEIS schools. The NEWB's educational welfare service was provided from 31 locations nationwide. The EWS comprises 3 Regional Managers, 12 SEWOs and 60 EWOs.
*In November 2011, the Government announced details of its four year recovery plan. Two of the plan's decisions, due take effect in September 2011, will have a direct impact on the integrated NEWB:
Under the plan, teachers will be redeployed in accordance with the terms of redeployment schemes. The Integration project is now also concerned with the management of the additional workload arising from the withdrawal of these services and the impact of the wind down of these service activities.