Most Europeans spend significantly more time in education than the legal minimum requirement. This reflects the choice to enrol in higher education, as well as increased enrolment in pre-primary education and wider participation in lifelong learning initiatives Nevertheless, around one in nine children leave school or training early and this has an impact on individuals, society and economies.
In January 2011, the European Commission adopted a Communication titled ‘Tackling early school leaving: a key contribution to the Europe 2020 agenda’. This outlined the reasons why pupils decide to leave school early — including for example, learning difficulties, social factors, or a lack of motivation, guidance or support — and gave an overview of existing and planned measures to tackle this issue across the EU. Unfortunately, many teachers don’t know how to help prevent students from dropping out.
The EPODS project is working with teachers, trainers and other educators to develop innovative tools and other material to help teachers utilise different methods and ways at tackling this difficult area. Here are some effective strategies teachers can use to improve retention rates and encourage their students to stay on in school.
Some students drop out of school because they don’t believe they are learning anything useful. They don’t plan to go to college, and they feel that the subject matter being taught is inappropriate for their future. If a teacher identifies this problem, he or she can encourage the student to transfer to an alternative program, such as a vocational school. In these alternative programs awards of diplomas are won but it allow students to learn skills for certain careers they plan to pursue, such as mechanical skills.
In Part 2 of this article we look at and examine other strategies that teachers can use to keep students from dropping out of school early such as close observation, being proactive, offering encouragement and highlighting the importance of staying in education.