Tackling Underachievement and Early School Leaving in Europe: Insights from SCIREARLY

Education is a cornerstone of societal development, empowering individuals and fostering inclusive growth. However, underachievement and early school leaving stands in the way of reaching the full educational potential across Europe. 

SCIREARLY, a project spanning ten European countries, has embarked on a transformative journey to investigate the root causes of underachievement, identify effective policies and practices and foster collaboration among stakeholders. In this blog post, we delve into the multifaceted dimensions of underachievement and early school leaving, explore successful interventions, and highlight recommendations for future action. 

Underachievement and early school leaving is a multifaceted challenge with far-reaching consequences for individuals and society at large. The repercussions are profound: Adults who have left school early or have not reached their expected educational potential are more likely to experience limited employment opportunities and increased poverty rates, diminished civic engagement and heightened crime rates. Moreover, these issues perpetuate intergenerational cycles of disadvantage, underscoring the urgency of targeted interventions. 

SCIREARLY sheds light on the intricate interplay of social determinants contributing to underachievement and early school leaving. There are many variables that shape educational outcomes: Institutional factors like teaching methodologies and resources, socio-economic influences such as family income and parental education level, and cultural, linguistic, and psychosocial factors. The complexity of contributing factors underscores the need for holistic approaches to reduce underachievement and early school leaving 

Mapping successful policies:

Policy shapes action and action shapes policy. Therefore, SCIREARLY conducted a cross-county policy analysis to highlight policies and interventions that have been successful in reducing early school leaving rates and tackling underachievement. A range of policies show promise in fostering educational success, including expanding access to early childhood education, enhancing curriculum relevance, providing support for socio-economically disadvantaged communities and promoting vocational education and training 

To get a richer understanding of successful policies and interventions, SCIREARLY has engaged key stakeholders through dialogic seminars and gained experiential perspectives and g nuanced considerations. 

Guided by the communicative methodology of research (Gómez et al., 2011) – which focuses on the co-creation of scientific knowledge through engagement with key stakeholders in open, egalitarian dialogue – dialogic seminars were conducted in six countries to solicit feedback on priority factors and areas for policy action, bringing the perspectives of key stakeholders to the fore. These key stakeholders included policymakers, school administrators and teachers, community activists and service providers, and families and students from communities most impacted by ESL.  

Recommendations for action:

SCIREARLY’s research underscores the importance of bridging the gap between policy intent and implementation. Key recommendations include fostering interagency collaboration, embracing a whole-school approach, addressing demographic disparities, and leveraging successful initiatives as models for replication. Moreover, prioritizing areas such as early childhood education, support for disadvantaged communities, and flexible curricula is essential for sustained progress. 

SCIREARLY’s collaborative efforts offer a beacon of hope in the quest to tackle underachievement and early school leaving in Europe. By elucidating the complex dynamics at play, identifying successful interventions, and fostering dialogue among stakeholders, the initiative paves the way for transformative change. Moving forward, concerted action guided by SCIREARLY’s insights is essential to ensure that every child has the opportunity to thrive in school and beyond, thereby realizing their full potential and contributing to a more equitable and prosperous society. 

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University of Deusto - Avda. de Universidades, 24, 48600 Bilbao, Spain

European Union flag This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101061288
This website reflects only the authors’ view. The European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.
 Translations are automatically generated by the Google Translate plug-in. The SCIREARLY consortium declines responsibility for errors due to the limitations of the translation software.