§ Lord Hylton
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why the Divis Education Project in Belfast has been closed; what education is now being offered to the pupils of the project; why one boy formerly attending the project was prosecuted for absence from school; and what is the future policy in respect of pupils absent from school who are sometimes not acceptable to conventional schools and are to a degree unschoolable.
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (The Earl of Mansfield)
The Divis Education Project is a private undertaking; it is not a recognised educational establishment, and it has not sought to register as an independent school. I understand that it has not closed.
The parent of a child attending the project was recently fined because the Belfast Juvenile Court was not satisfied the child was receiving suitable and efficient full-time education; it is expected that children of compulsory school age who formerly attended the project will enrol in a grant-aided school next term.
The Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 requires Education and Library Boards to ensure there are sufficient schools and that special educational treatment is available for pupils whose physical, intellectual, emotional or social development needs it. Among the options available for persistent truants are "time out" sessions within ordinary schools, attendance at Educational Guidance Units, referral to a psychiatric unit and, in extreme cases, placement in a special school for the maladjusted.