Educational Welfare Act

The Educational Welfare Act 2000 deals with

  • registration of children receiving education other than in recognised schools
  • compulsory attendance of certain children at recognised schools
  • establishment of the National Educational Welfare Board
  • coordination of school attendance with other relevant bodies and
  • the supply of data by persons relating to educational history to certain persons.


The function of the National Educational Welfare Board is to ensure each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a minimum education. The Board assists in the formulation of policy and the objectives of government concerning the education of children.

For this purpose, it may

  • promote and foster an appreciation of the benefits of education as respects physical intellectual emotional social cultural and moral development of children and economic and social advantages from that
  • promote and foster in recognised schools an environment that encourages children to attend school and participate in school life
  • conduct and commission research into reasons for non-attendance and strategies designed to prevent it
  • disseminate through recognised school findings of research conduct
  • advise on matters relating to the prevention of non-attendance and good conduct of students generally
  • assist recognised schools as far as practicable to meet their obligations
  • advise and assist children and parents who exhibit problems relating to school attendance and behaviour
  • support, monitor and assess the effectiveness of strategies and programmes aimed at preventing non-attendance
  • co-operate with such  persons as the board considers appropriate to coordinate the activities of the board
  • carry out reviews of training and guidance given to teachers relating to school attendance and matters of conduct
  • advise the National Council for Curriculum Assessment in respect to aspects of the school curriculum that are likely to have an effect on attendance levels and participation

Assessment of Child

The Board may with the consent of the parent arrange for a child to be assessed in relation to intellectual, emotional and physical development. If a parent refuses the Board may apply to the Circuit Court for an order of assessment.

Where the Circuit Court is satisfied that the child’s behaviour or lack of progress or regularity of attendance without reasonable excuse is such that an assessment is warranted, it may order an assessment to be carried out.

Officers of NEWB

The Board made appoint Educational Welfare Officers to carry out the functions in the legislation. The Board of Management, principals, teachers and other members of staff of a recognised school must give all reasonable assistance required by an Educational Welfare Officer in the performance of his duties and functions.

The Board shall designate liaison officers to coordinate its activities and policies with those of the below-mentioned bodies

  • Department of Health
  • Department of Social Community and Family Affairs
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment
  • Commissioner of An Garda Siochana
  • health authorities
  • Education and Training Boards
  • National Youth Work Advisory Committee
  • National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

Admission to School

The Board of management of a recognised school must not refuse admission of a student except where the refusal is in accordance with the policy recognised and published under the Education Act. The parent of the child who has made an application shall provide the recognised school with such information as may be required.

As soon as possible, but within ng 21 days after a parent has provided the information, the Board of Management shall  make a decision on the application and inform the parent in writing

Registration and Transfer of Students

Each school principal must establish and maintain a register of students attending the school. This must be entered when the child first attends the school.

Where a schoolchild transfers school, it shall notify the school where the child was formerly registered. In this event, the latter school removes the name of the child from the register.

Where notification of transfer is made, the principal of the first school must notify the second school of problems relating to school attendance and such other matters regarding educational progress as is considered necessary or appropriate.

Registration with NEWB

The NEWB must maintain a register of young persons. Young persons may apply to the NEWB to be registered. A young person is a person under 18 and above an age prescribed by the Minister. A child who ceased to be a child for the purposes of the legislation may apply to be registered.

The NEWB as soon as practical after receiving the application and after consulting with the child or the young person, his parents and other persons appropriate shall prepare a plan for the purpose of assisting the child or young person avail education and training opportunities. It shall give assistance to the child or young person or his guardians as it considers appropriate.

Once the plan has been prepared, the NEWB enters the name of the child or young person and particulars of the plan in its register and issues a certificate of registration to the child.

Where the NEWB is of the opinion, that a young person to whom a certificate has been issued is failing to make reasonable efforts to carry out the plan, it may, if satisfied, that it would not be in the young person’s interest to continue in employment withdraw the certificate.

Before withdrawing the certificate, the NEWB must notify the young person in writing or his parents and employer of the intention to withdraw the certificate and invite them to make representations. The representations must be taken into account.

Employment of Registered Young Person

An employer shall not employ a young person unless the person holds a valid certificate and the employer makes and retains a copy of such certificate. An employer, as soon as practical, and not later than one month after the young person has commenced employment, must inform the NEWB  by notice in writing. The employer must obtain a copy of the notice.

An employer upon being requested by an Educational Welfare Officer must produce a copy of the certificate or notice as the relation to the young person concerned. The notice is in a form prescribed by the Department.

It is an offence for an employer to fail or refuse to comply with the above request. It is an offence for the employer to breach any of the above obligations, including in particular the employment of the young person without the requisite certificate. The employer may be liable to guilty of a continuing offence and may be fined for each day that the offence continues.

The provision should not apply to young persons:

  • registered at a recognised school
  • engaged in a course as defined,
  • engaged in a prescribed program of education, training or instruction.

Powers of Educational Welfare Officer

An Educational Welfare Officer has powers to do any of the following:

  • at reasonable times, enter a place where he believes a young person is employed in  work, or where the activities of such workplace are directed or controlled;
  • examine whether the above provisions are being complied with;
  • require the  employer of a young person or representative to produce records, inspect and take copies of them;
  • require information be furnished as reasonably requested.
  • examine any person who with reasonable cause is believed to be an employer or employee and require him to answer questions as may be put relating to the matters concerned and make a declaration of truth.

There is no obligation of the person to incriminate himself.

A private dwelling house may be entered, only with the consent of the occupier or with a warrant.  A warrant may be issued, and the  Educational Welfare Officer may be accompanied by a member of the Garda Síochána.

It is an offence to

obstruct or impede an Educational Welfare Officer,

  • refuse to produce a record,
  • produce a false or misleading record,
  • give false or misleading information or,
  • fail to comply with a welfare requirement.

A person guilty of an offence is liable on summary conviction for six months or up to  €1,905 fine.


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