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Tackling non-attendance in schools A practical approach. Professor Dolf van Veen National Centre on Education and Youth Care Netherlands Youth Institute. Structure of the presentation. Amsterdam project: overview and findings Emerging successful strategies

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tackling non attendance in schools a practical approach

Tackling non-attendance in schoolsA practical approach

Professor Dolf van Veen

National Centre on Education and Youth Care

Netherlands Youth Institute

structure of the presentation
Structure of the presentation
  • Amsterdam project: overview and findings
  • Emerging successful strategies
  • Promising strategies (international perspective)
  • Recommendations
recommendations international research
Recommendations (international research)
  • Few rigorous, systematic studies; most of the research is on intervention programmes, on how schools contribute to NA and on how school disengagement relates to increased attendance. No silver bullit approaches!
  • NA as functional problem (motivation, family) or indicator of disengagement to which school culture/structure contribute
  • Parental intervention is less effective with older students
  • Strategies to encourage personalization are even more important for older children
  • Strategies to encourage academic achievement are a driving force in policy and practice (plus funding, ranking schools, reduction behaviour problems and dropout)
recommendations international research4
Recommendations (international research)
  • attendance policies
    • sound and reasonable
    • communicated and understood
    • differences between excused/non-excused absences
    • parent notification and home-school contact
  • early interventions
    • home-school contact
    • early support when pupils start struggling or become disengaged (in SEd first year!)
    • fixed homework and bedtimes
    • to get ready for school
recommendations international research5
Recommendations (international research)
  • targeted interventions (chronic truancy problems)
    • in-school or rebound programmes
    • academic, behavioural, family and health support
    • include health and human services (BEST)
  • strategies for increasing student engagement and personalization
    • family involvement (communication, parent evening, home visits for extended NA, phone calls no letters-policy)
    • personalized learning
    • smaller learning units (schools-within-a-school, cluster teams/house plans, caring relationships)
    • mentoring
recommendations international research6
Recommendations (international research)
  • student advisories
  • culturally responsive school culture
  • alternative programmes
  • hold students accountable for completing assignments
  • extended school days and service learning
amsterdam project overview
Amsterdam project: overview
  • 4 year R&D-programme to improve attendance in Amsterdam 200 primary and 45 secondary schools
  • focus on children and youth 10-15 year old (last two years in primary schools, first three in secondary) and on prevention-registration-early warning-intervention
  • identification of key challenges and successful or promising strategies
  • features of our approach: school- and research-based, field experiments and upscaling/implementation support
amsterdam project baseline findings
Amsterdam project: baseline findings
  • 3100 pupils (10-15 year) are not in school (9%)
  • average non-attendance in secondary education is 12% (1st year 6%, 3rd year 17%), in primary education 3.7%, in special education 6%
  • huge differences between schools: range in primary 0-20%, special education 0-38%, secondary 0-53%
  • 85% of parents inform the primary school, in secondary 1st year 68%, 3th 40%; many schools don’t know why kids are not in school (no follow up, after one week reasons unclear in 30-50% of the cases)
  • 1300 pupils (42%) are seen as problematic and at risk
amsterdam project baseline findings9
Amsterdam project: baseline findings
  • (authorized) daily illness is 2% in PEd and 5% in SEd
  • truancy in secondary is 4% and 0.4% in primary education
  • non-attendance and truancy (extended NA) are higher if parents and schools are more tolerant
  • important risk factors are low-achievers/slow learners, school type, educational level of the parents, cumulation of youth at risk in a class/year group
  • non-attendance in some ethnic-minority groups is lower, non-authorized non-attendance is higher
  • complex relation between school quality and non-attendance
amsterdam project key challenges
Amsterdam project: key challenges
  • understanding the reasons for non-attendance and truancy
  • efficient system for dealing with being late and absenteeism
  • sufficient staff during peak hours (morning) to deal with phone calls from parents and with follow up
  • clear definitions of (authorized and non-authorized) non-attendance and truancy
  • registration/monitoring systems should include school responses on non-attendance and results of strategies
  • improve day/week schedules and the distribution of homework assignments
amsterdam project key challenges11
Amsterdam project: key challenges
  • improve communication with parents and pupils, parental involvement, and student support services
  • maintaining strict and fair policies and increase personalized and supportive responses
  • increase in sophisticated registration systems in SEd: high on procedures and ‘punishment’, low on follow up and pedagogy and on the evaluation of school data
  • improve homework policy (and support)
  • improve classroom and school climate (SEd): from tourists to citizens in the classroom
amsterdam project selected interventions
Amsterdam project: selected interventions
  • experiment in 30 primary schools with high non-attendance rates: focus on improved registration, follow up, intensified communication with parents and targeted interventions
  • experiment in 6 secondary schools with solid attendance registration: focus on developing fast and problem adequate and effective responses
  • experiment in 1 low-performing secondary school: focus on consistency management and co-operative discipline (CMCD)
  • experiment in 12 secondary schools: focus on building improved learning and behaviour support teams and on fast responses in case of (frequent) illness
amsterdam project findings four years later
Amsterdam project: findings four years later
  • from 9% to 12% of pupils (10-15) are not in school
  • non-attendance in secondary education from 12% to 13.4%, in primary education from 3.7% to 4.2%
  • non-attendance informed by parents from 85% to 58% in primary schools, and from 68% to 25% (1st year) and from 40% to 22% (4th year) in secondary schools
  • school follow up: in PEd from 56% to 23%, in SEd from 57% to 61% (but a 35% decrease in fast interventions)
  • average daily illness in PEd from 2% to 3.3% and in secondary from 5% to 1.9%
amsterdam project findings field experiments
Amsterdam project: findings field experiments
  • CMCD-project in SEd: improved attendance, lower discipline referrals, improved attainment
  • PEd-project (NA-coordinator): improved registration and follow up resulted initially in increased non-attendance, followed by significant lower levels of non-attendance; being late disappeared and lower levels of illness.
  • SEd-project (Illness): standard procedure (school doctor interviews parents/pupils whom are not in school 5 consecutive days or have missed 25 or more lessons in 4 weeks) is highly effective
amsterdam project findings field experiments15
Amsterdam project: findings field experiments
  • SEd-project (BEST): improved results for frequent NA and youth at risk (f.i. lower levels of NA)
  • SEd-project (targeting non-authorized NA the same day): being late reduced dramatically, understanding of NA increased (school factors f.i. schedule, specific classes/teachers, distribution of homework, need for extra learning support) as well as problem adequate responses; improved attendance and students perceived better support
lessons learned
Lessons learned
  • registration is important as well as rapid responses and identifying the reasons for non-attendance; analysis of data at pupil, class, year group and school level are vital to understand NA and develop sound strategies
  • effective school strategies for NA need to be embedded in the archetecture of the pupil and parent support system
  • non-attendance is lower if teaching and learning are personalized, if students feel ‘missed’ and when students like to be at school
  • personal (and phone) contact with parents is vital, stimulate peers to visit the pupil and pay attention to the (home)work they have missed
lessons learned17
Lessons learned
  • NA signals that children and youth face difficulties
    • discipline and stressors related to developmental tasks
    • lack of parental support or too much control
    • family issues, negative peer culture, violence/protection
    • with teaching and learning, motivation, locus of control
  • NA reflects that schools face challenges
    • learning environment/school climate and structure
    • competenties and attitudes of teachers/personnel
    • internal support structure
    • communicating existing supports to families/youngsters
    • activating health and human services
recommendations for policy and practice
Recommendations for policy and practice
  • (local and national) authorities can support schools by:
    • promoting (supports for) successful educational careers
    • developing a supportive regional social infrastructure that works collaboratively with schools to promote positive behaviour, development and educational attainment
    • good practices and realistic standards and guidelines concerning registration, monitoring and effective strategies
  • Teachers/schools/boards:
    • make students feel ‘missed’, personalize and provide support
    • create healthy, safe, stimulating and hospitable schools
    • improve inter-agency collaboration, less talk, more actions
    • from tourists to citizens in the classroom ...!
more information
More information?

Professor Dolf van Veen

National Centre on Education and Youth Care

Netherlands Youth Institute

Catharijnesingel 47

3510 DD Utrecht

The Netherlands

31-30-230 6693

[email protected]

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