ESN Spring Seminar 2012

In 2011 the European Commission proposed a Council Recommendation to reduce early school-leaving “addressed across a range of social, youth, family, health, local community, employment as well as education policies.” ESN has published its position highlighting the need to provide “holistic solutions involving various actors (public and community groups) and supporting the whole individual and family around them” and drawing to attention to the needs of vulnerable groups.

Carme Montserrat, Research Institute on Quality of Life University of Girona in Spain presented the YIPPEE project. It aims to review pathways into education of young people from a public care background in five EU countries (Hungary, Spain, England, Sweden and Denmark), and use the findings to try to keep more of these young people in education after the end of compulsory schooling. Carme insisted on “the invisibility of this group due to the lack of comparative data. This conceals the educational disadvantage of young people with a public care background.”

Borbála Kovács, Researcher for the Resource Centre for Roma Communities in Romania, looked at the results of a project to support Roma pupils in secondary school . Based on their findings, Kovács suggested “the need to provide students with financial support paired with mentoring particularly for Roma students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Yvonne Vanneste, Regional Public Health Service West Brabant, Netherlands, told the audience about the M@zl programme, which aims to reduce school drop out of pupils frequently absent for medical reasons. Vanneste emphasised that “this is an example of how policy actions can be more effective if a holistic and universal approach is taken since M@zel involves various sectors (teacher, physician, social worker) and addresses all students regardless of background.”

Clare Ryan, Chief Executive at Educational Welfare Board Ireland, explained to the audience some of the strategies implemented in Ireland, one of the two countries which has already fulfilled the target of reducing early school leaving below 10%. Ryan insisted on the need to have “a single, strategic approach to address school attendance, participation and retention” and that “schools in disadvantaged areas need to have the highest expectations to achieve best education outcomes.”

With this seminar, ESN hopes to contribute to the EU debate on fighting Early school leaving. ESN will participate in the Early School Leaving Stakeholders Group set up by the European Commission.

Presentations and papers are available for download.