Home > Early school leaving: an exploration of the factors contributing to school non-completion.

McGarr, Jennifer (2010) Early school leaving: an exploration of the factors contributing to school non-completion. Masters thesis, Dublin Institute of Technology.

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This study is of an explorative nature, investigating early school leaving in Ireland today. Despite a range of interventions to address school non-completion, approximately 14% of students (as of 2007) continue to leave school without completing their education every year (Byrne & Smyth, 2010). A disproportionate amount of these young people come from disadvantaged backgrounds (Barnardos, 2006). Education is a powerful predicator of life chances and opportunities. Those who leave school with little or no formal education have less opportunities in later life, are more likely to be unemployed, have lower levels of general health and are at a greater risk of becoming involved in crime (Barnardos, 2009).

This study investigates the reasons why young people are opting out of school, the contributing factors to their leaving school and the barriers that prevent them from achieving their educational potential. Using a mixed methods approach, data was collected from early school leavers, teachers and stakeholders within the school system. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were adopted to provide for a thorough examination of this educational problem. Findings highlight the complex and multifaceted nature of early school leaving. Disengagement from education is essentially a process which does not have one sole cause and for many, starts as far back as primary school. A variety of factors and influences impact on a young person’s educational career, with a greater incidence of early school leaving occuring where a number of risk factors co-exist. This study offers a number of recommendations for increasing student retention, with a particular emphasis on improving school relationships and revising the curriculum and modes of assessment.

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