Affecting one in seven young people, early school leaving is one of the greatest educational challenges in Europe, and reducing its levels is a shared objective of EU countries. A conference organised by the European Commission on 1-2 March 2012 brought together more than 300 practitioners, researchers and policy makers to discuss ways of tackling early school leaving. The conference also marked the launch of a European expert group in this field, which will meet regularly to exchange experiences and good practice currently locked behind national and regional borders in Europe.
The conference was opened by Jan Truszczyński, Director-General for Education and Culture at the European Commission, and Christine Antorini, Danish Minister for Children and Education.
Professor Mariano Fernandez Enguita from the University of Salamanca, Spain, addressed early school leaving and school failure in the context of the growing difficulties schools have when it comes to attracting the attention of young people, providing relevant education in times of new media and information overflow and helping young people gain the most relevant skills they will need in future.
Royston Maldoom, a well-known British choreographer working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, looked at the perspective of young people who lack the necessary confidence and self-esteem to develop their skills. He gave a vivid account of how challenging them in dance projects shows them ways of reaching their objectives, not only on the dance floor.
In four workshops conference participants discussed the challenges of developing a sufficient evidence-base to better target policies against early school leaving, of establishing co-operation across policy sectors such as education, youth, employment and health, of addressing drop-out from vocational education and training, and of promoting different forms of learning to keep disengaged young people in education and training.
In their conclusions participants highlighted the need for strong political commitment, to involve children and young people, but also their parents and local communities in policies against early school leaving, and to support teachers and other education staff in their work.
Speeches and presentations
Mariano Fernandez Enguita, University of Salamanca, Spain: The crisis of schooling in the age of learning - the growing menace of school disengagement, failure and leaving
- Mary Gordon, YouthReach, Ireland: Guidance and counselling in YouthReach Programme in Ireland
- Tom Canning, Tollgate Primary School, United Kingdom: Tollgate Primary School in London
- Cordula Heckmann, Campus Rütli, Germany: Rütli Campus Berlin
- Gert Møller, Production school Korsør, and Verner Ljung, Association of Danish Production Schools, Denmark: Production Schools in Denmark
- Jérôme Teillard, Ministry of Education, France: Micro-Lycées in France
SIEI: Inter-ministerial Information Exchange System (FR)
- Control on school absenteeism (BE)
Productive Learning (DE)
- New possibilities (NO)
Pre-VENT KS3 (UK/South East Wales)
Coordination unit Youth-Education-Employment Vienna (AT)
Peer support groups for parents from an immigrant background helping them support their children in the formal education (FI)
Romodrom for Education (CZ)
Priority intervention Education Areas 2 (TEIP2 Programme) (PT)
- Choices Programme (PT)
- Programme against early school leaving, school failure and delinquency in Zones of Educational Priority (CY)
Tailor-made Guidance (NL)
- The Prince's Trust xl clubs (UK)
Flexible Basic Education (JOPO®) (FI)
Stop Dropout (Leonardo da Vinci partnership: AT, DE, SI, CZ)
- RETAIN (Leonardo da Vinci partnership: SE, IS, UK)
DROPS - Dropout Prevention in Schools (Comenius Regio partnership DE/NL)
- Building Bridges – Crossing Bridges (Comenius Regio partnership DK/DE)
Website: http://regio-building-bridges.dcmurl.dk, www.crossing-bridges.eu
- Stay on Track (Comenius Regio partnership AT/BE)
- Heidi's Education Adventure (Comenius school partnership: TR)
Physical and Sports Activities in Different Environments (Comenius school partnership: PT, IT, ES, AT, BG, GR, TK, DK)