PlugInnovation is a digital platform with an ambition to become a national resource cluster for dropout-prevention. The website will collect information, statistics, research and examples of successful actions taken by the schools with the aim of preventing early school leaving.
Each project within the Plug In framework has been used as a methodological workshop for exploring methods to counter early school leaving. In the framework of their systematic quality assurance system, schools and municipalities have been free to explore prevention methods in order to reduce ESL-rates.
At present, the data consists of the descriptions and documentation provided by the projects, but the width and number of projects has provided material for exploring effective measures for preventing early school leaving. In addition, a number of in-depth studies built on scientific ground have been added to the analysis.
Five factors for success have been identified and will be used as a launch pad for the projects of Plug In 2.0, and published at the website during the summer of 2015.
These factors are:
- Focus on the learner, a holistic approach
Examples of holistic approaches focused on the learner include both individual and structural measures aimed at removing obstacles to learning. They range from development and adaption of the teaching itself, pedagogical and structural support, practical training in a work place, exploration of future career paths, to measures addressing the learners' needs outside school. Learners that potentially are early school leavers often have a high degree of absence and thus need to be approached in less traditional arenas.
A decisive first step to prevent early school leaving is to monitor factors indicating that learners are disengaged from school and learning. Some of the most important factors are the individual’s grades, results, absence, late arrival, and engagement in school in and outside the classroom. But also factors like problem solving competencies, and social dimensions, the question how well the learner links learning to future goals and his/her relation to other learners and adults, have an impact on early school leaving.
- Personal relations
Positive relations and trust between learners and adults have been identified as important mechanisms to prevent early school leaving. Conscious efforts to establish trustworthy relations affect learners’ motivation and well-being as well as their performance in school. Positive relations are crucial for those in risk of early school leaving, because they induce them to attend school, to take part in the learning and to respond to support measures.
Though learners risking early school leaving share many individual or structural backgrounds, their needs may vary. Flexible approaches and methods, therefore, are important to give all students individualized learning support.
Learners that have left or are at risk of leaving school early need a variety of support mechanisms. For an individual it may be difficult to recognize the social partners or stakeholders that can provide such support. The various available initiatives can easier be grasped if cooperation between the partners is improved.