Home > Count us in: Tackling early school leaving in south west inner city Dublin: an integrated response.

Downes, Paul and Maunsell, Catherine (2007) Count us in: Tackling early school leaving in south west inner city Dublin: an integrated response. Dublin: South Inner City Community Development Association and South Inner City Local Drugs Task Force.

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This report aims to identify those individual and environmental factors, which militate against school completion by young people in the catchment area of the South West Inner City. It identifies key issues for appropriate interventions with regard to school completion.

Adopting a solution-focused, child-centred approach, the research is the largest survey to-date of children and young people in the local area. 5th and 6th class pupils, 1st, 2nd and 5th year students, attending schools in the local area, were surveyed. Other key stakeholders locally, including early school leavers, family support services and schools, were also interviewed in order to develop the central parts of a strategic plan for overcoming early school leaving in the area.

Key findings:
Willingness to complete secondary school:
100% of pupils in some local primary schools stated that they want to stay on at school until Leaving Certificate, in contrast to a different local school where 29% of 5th and 6th class pupils do not want to stay on until Leaving Certificate.There is a sharp increase in the percentage of secondary students, from 4.5% in 1st year to 12% in 2nd year, who indicated that they do not want to complete secondary school.

Hunger in school:
Differences between primary schools in the local area ranged from 6% to 33% of pupils who stated that they were either often, very often or everyday, too hungry to do their work in school. Hunger was also an issue for secondary school students with a conservative estimate of at least 17% of 1st year students in one secondary school who stated that they were either often, very often or every day, too hungry to do their work in school.

Lack of sleep affecting academic performance:
In at least 4 local primary schools there were more than 15% of pupils who regularly sleep less than 9 hours per night. According to international research this is going to weaken their academic performance in school. Many cannot sleep for anxiety-related reasons.

Substance abuse:
Almost 50% of fifth year students stated that they have used illegal drugs; this is a sharp 35% increase from the figure of 15% for the same questions asked to the 2nd year students in the same schools. Almost 10 % of 5th year students have taken cocaine in the last month or year.

Suicide risk:
A direct link between suicide of young people and owing money for drugs was raised by a number of older focus group respondents and is a matter of extreme concern.

Relations with teachers:
There was a sharp decrease in student perceptions of being treated fairly by teachers from 5th and 6th class at primary level (75%) to first year secondary (59%), though there were big differences between the secondary schools on this issue. Perceptions of being treated unfairly by teachers were exceptionally high at 50% of student responses in the fifth year group of one school, with 29% of this group who stated that they were treated fairly by teachers being an exceptionally low figure. Teachers were perceived as being unapproachable regarding an academic problem by at least 33% of pupils in one school and 25% of pupils in another school.

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