independent

Monday 19 August 2019

'I didn't like school either' says Judge

JUDGE JOHN Coughlan sympathised at Wexford District Court with a teenage girl who hates school.

'I had a lot of problems at school. I didn't like school,' said the Judge.

The mother of the girl who is now 15 and in 3rd year, was prosecuted by the National Educational Welfare Board for failing to ensure that her daughter attends school.

Caitriona Walsh, solicitor for the Board, said the girl attended for two days out of 167 in the school year 2009/2010 and last year, she did not attend at all.

Her mother told the court that her daughter said she got panic attacks in school.

She accepted it was her fault that she didn't get in touch with the school to explain.

She fought with her every day to go to school.

Her daughter is now trying her best and wants to go to school although last week, she was sick and unable to attend.

'She has a phobia about school. Is that fair to say?' asked Judge Coughlan.

' Yes, she does,' replied the mother who explained that she has to leave home early every morning to start work at 8 a.m.

She calls her daughter before she goes and when she gets to work, she texts or rings her to encourage her to go to school.

'I am very sympathetic. The girl is probably too clever for school,' remarked the Judge after hearing that despite her poor attendance, the girl's results have been good.

'I fail to see why the mother should be punished when the child has a psychological issue in relation to school,' he said.

Ms. Walsh said the Board did not believe there was a psychological issue.

She said the girl had availed of counselling with the Ferns Diocesan Youth Service.

Adjourning the case briefly to allow other witnesses to attend, Judge Coughlan said: 'I remember my own school days.'

He said the reason he was taking a particular interest in the case is that he experienced a lot of problems himself in school.

Later, Paul Breslin, a National Educational Welfare Officer, agreed it would be a good idea if the mother brought the girl to school when she was leaving for work.

The girl could have her breakfast there before starting classes.

He said the school principal also approved of this idea.

Ms. Walsh said the school also had a care team which would monitor the girl's progress.

The court heard that during lunch time, the teenager does creative writing on her own. She also likes music and plays the guitar.

She also enjoys sport played at the school.

Judge Coughlan adjourned the case to January 23.

'I'm very sympathetic to the child,' he said.

The Judge said he appreciated the attendance in court of the school principal.

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