The Cork Life Centre has said it is “deeply disappointed and concerned” with the recently published review of out-of-school education, saying its recommendations would “consign to the scrap heap those children who cannot cope with the traditional institutionalised school system”.
The Review of Out-of-School Education Provision was published on May 12, with Minister for Education, Norma Foley, announcing that a group would be set up to oversee implementation of its recommendations, which include a standardised referral framework and better data recording and tracking of students who are expelled or absent from school.
The Cork Life Centre was one of 23 organisations delivering out-of-school education that contributed to the review, but it claimed the report contained factual “inaccuracies”, and queried why it was only being published now when it was understood to have been completed in 2019.
“It is an understatement to say that the report has been received with disappointment and frustration by the board, management, and staff of the Cork Life Centre,” it said of the report.
“Our view is that it is shaping the problem to fit the system, when in fact it should be the other way around.
“The review's recommendations focus on short-term interventions and do not include provision of education to children after the age of 16 or delivery of the Leaving Certificate.”
Given that Cork Life Centre and others run a service based on long-term intervention for 12- to 18-year-olds and delivers the Leaving Certificate to approximately 12 students per annum, it added “it seems very unclear how this review will progress proper funding of our service in Cork”.
As for that cut-off age of 16, it said: “This is a hammer blow for anyone outside the mainstream school system with an aspiration of completing the Leaving Certificate.
“It does not address the input and needs of students who find themselves outside the mainstream system.
"The report minimises, undermines, and misrepresents the achievements of students in out-of-school provision at Leaving Certificate level.”
It also described as an “egregious misrepresentation” the claim in the report that “the Leaving Cert was not as prominent in the data returned”, outlining how 28 students achieved the Leaving Certificate in the three years from 2014 to 2017 at the Cork Life Centre.
Earlier this month, Minister Foley had said:
“While this review finds positively on the work which is carried out in out-of-school settings, it is important to provide stability to this provision and ensure settings are sustainable into the future.”