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INTERNATIONAL PANORAMA. Reducing early school leaving in the European Union
Lore VAN PRAAG, University of Antwerp, Belgium

To remember

  • Trying to identify the students at risk of dropping out leads to a significant risk of stigmatisation: existing support measures are often viewed as punishments.
  • Satisfying students’ basic needs (a safe school environment, nutrition, sleep…) is the key lever in the fight against early school leaving.
  • It is important to pair educational support with career guidance that leads to realistic decision-making by students.

ITALY. First steps forward in the fight against early school leaving
Maddalena COLOMBO, Catholic University of Sacred Heart of Milan, Italy

To remember

  • Early school leaving has decreased in Italy, but it is impossible to identify the policy levers that made this happen: lowering the compulsory schooling age (from 6 to 5 years old), making vocational training a part of secondary education, local projects…
  • The high rates of youth unemployment goes hand in hand with a loss of confidence in the capacity of school to guarantee a job at the end. Furthermore, it is necessary to combat the “school-less model“, which is anchored in the mentality that the career path alone allows one to learn and achieve.
  • Teachers sometimes have very little incentive to contribute to early school leaving projects.

GERMANY. Strategies and assessment of a programme to ensure academic success for all students in Saxony-Anhalt
Franziska LAU, German Foundation for Children and Youth, Germany

To remember

  • The programme “Schulerfolg sichern” (Ensure academic success) fosters cooperation between a variety of educational stakeholders both in and out of school and, in particular, allows for the installation of 400 social workers in 369 schools. These social workers form a network, which is coordinated at the state level.
  • This programme has not only been shown to reinforce cooperation amonst educational actors and to allow for comprehensive support of at-risk youth, but has also been shown to promote parental involvement and to reduce behavioural problems and violence at school.
  • Ongoing and carefully designed evaluation methods have allowed for continuous improvement of the programme over the past 10 years.

IRELAND. Early school leaving: the Irish experience
Delma BYRNE, Maynooth University, Ireland

To remember

  • Despite a reduction in the early school leaving rate, the literacy rate in Ireland has not increased: completing secondary education does not necessarily lead to acquiring the necessary skills level.
  • The programme “School completion” provides activities during and outside of school, including linkages with parents.
  • Lower expectations from teachers at the primary school level, a perceived lack of a challenging learning environement, and negative interactions between students and teachers have been linked to early school leaving.