089. Scrap the NEWB or get rid of the unnecessary paperwork

Once upon a time not so long ago when a child was absent for more than 20 days, a school might ring their friendly Educational Welfare Officer (EWO) and let them know. The EWO would then take over and depending on the case, you might or might not hear from the EWO again. 

Not so long ago either, at the end of a school term, a school could click on a button of their Student Management System and all the children that missed 20+ days would automatically be sent to the NEWB.

Suffice to say, neither system currently exists anymore for two different reasons.

The first is because Tusla decided to dump most of the preliminary work of the NEWB back to schools. Now when a child missed 20 or more days, schools have to prove they have done everything in their power to try and convince the family to send their child to school. They must put in “interventions” and prove they didn’t work and so on. Then the school has the pleasure of filling out a 9-page form and send it to some central office. (Just because we have so little to do, the 9 page form is in two parts, with the first page of both parts having almost the exact same information) 

Anyway, once that happens, the EWO takes over and once might or might not hear from them again, except, this time, the school has done almost all the work for them. The only thing that has changed is that schools have filled in a 9-page document and children have missed more school days. 

The interventions from the schools can’t work for the very same reason the interventions from the NEWB didn’t work. If children are going to be missing school, there is very little a school can do about it. 

I guess unless attendance has drastically improved, which I’m sure it hasn’t, (otherwise, I’m sure Tusla would be screaming it from the rooftops), we should stop the nonsense. 

The second problem was caused by some misinterpretation of GDPR. There is really no good reason why we can’t use the system we were using a few months ago. Insisting that we fill yet more paperwork for no reason is not only a waste of time but a waste of paper.

I’m very worried, in general, about Tusla’s complete obsession with filling in forms. Everywhere where Tusla are involved in some aspect of education, it seems to add a ridiculous amount of pointless form filling and paperwork. 

Naturally none of our representative bodies have done a thing to counter it. However, I don’t blame them; they’d probably have to fill in a long form to register their complaint and then prove they had put in several interventions internally in order to address the problem. 

For the record, I find the NEWB does great work when they are allowed. However, their job is being curtailed by the bureaucracy of it all.

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