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1 Conversations in 10 Schools Selected Findings from Qualitative Research on School Attendance Emmet Ó Briain (Ipsos MORI)

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Presentation on theme: "1 Conversations in 10 Schools Selected Findings from Qualitative Research on School Attendance Emmet Ó Briain (Ipsos MORI)"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Conversations in 10 Schools Selected Findings from Qualitative Research on School Attendance Emmet Ó Briain (Ipsos MORI)

2 2 Background to the Research Why Attendance Matters? Respondent Views Tackling Non-Attendance Different Perspectives, Shared Priorities The Problems of Re-Engagement Outline of Presentation Conclusion: The Importance of Context Needs-Based Assessment and Response

3 3 Background to the Research Scope to explore factors that impact on school attendance via a case study approach to provide qualitative context to existing quantitative data 10 sample schools, 5 primary and 5 post-primary, in 5 NEWB regions – 44 structured depth interviews examining participants’ experiences of non-attendance and also identifying ‘what works’ and what does not to contribute to evidence-based decision making in educational welfare policy and inform future priorities for research

4 4 Background to the Research Context schools involved had a good or active relationship with NEWB or their EWO and had experienced chronic or non-standard attendance problems. parents involved had a positive attitude towards attendance and were engaged with NEWB or their EWO. pupils involved had poor attendance but also had the support or their parent or guardian.

5 5 Why Attendance Matters? The Costs of Non-Attendance- Respondents’ Views Cost to Parent Stress & health cost Professional sacrifices Personal sacrifices Cost to School Time investigating absence Disharmony within school Cost to Pupil Educational deficit Alienation from peers Alienation from staff “I get him in at quarter past nine and then I come up and stand outside every day at lunchtime to make sure he doesn’t get out of the school and then I collect him at half-twelve. That’s the most I can do”. Parent, Post-Primary. ““That can lead to problems in class, discipline…if they come in after a day out, they’re half-asleep and then they’re not ready to learn and they’ve missed so much and they get bored.””. Principal, Primary. “And then some days, some of them got on really well with the teachers, but I didn’t really know them because I wasn’t there…the other students would be in more and I wouldn’t be in to get to know them.” Pupil, Post-Primary.

6 6 School Factors Parent/Family Factors Pupil Factors Tackling Non-Attendance Differing Perspectives Socio-Economic Factors Different stakeholders place different emphases on different factors. Support Service Factors

7 7 Tackling Non-Attendance Shared Priorities In contrast to some popular stereotypes, parents involved in this research were actively engaged in and committed to the solution of their children’s attendance problem. Equally, the schools involved were equally committed to tackling non- attendance and engaging with students. This belies the stereotype of all schools as ‘exam factories’, concerned only with academic success. Schools, parents, NEWB have complementary spheres of influence where positive changes can be affected. “Most parents what they want is to see their child included, happy and looked after. We provide a service to whatever kids come through that gate and that is our mission.” Principal, Post-Primary..

8 8 The Problems of Re-Engagement Many of the cases discussed during the research involved a failure to re-engage students following an initial period of non- attendance. The development of programmes of re-engagement for students with poor attendance was considered crucial by all. Categorising and communicating a non-attendance ‘problem’ is a sensitive task. All agree that prevention and early intervention should be the focus.

9 9 The Problems of Re-Engagement “Say I missed one day, and then went to go back, and then said ‘no’, it made it harder to go back…the teachers questioning me and asking for notes… moaning you’re so and so days out, just crap.” Pupil, Post-Primary. “[The teacher] was slagging me nanny, that’s…when I didn’t come to the school, she said my nanny couldn’t read.” Pupil, Primary. “If [he] had been caught in the first few weeks, he would have been grand. [He] saw the psychologist in July. He didn’t warrant therapy for whatever he had. [He] just wanted to know why he couldn’t go to school”.Parent, Primary.

10 10 Needs-Based Assessment and Response Many of the approaches that were considered to be most successful in tackling non-attendance were developed to suit particular needs in individual cases. The strength of these responses were that they were based on the assessment of needs (schools, students, families) in individual cases and tailored accordingly. These were also reliant on high levels of co-operation and communication between all or many of those involved (school, student, families, EWOs and other support services).

11 11 Needs-Based Assessment and Response “I like it here, they will work with me here, which I like…I told [the principal] her situation and he actually worked with her a little longer”. Parent, Post-Primary. “We don’t have resources to give schools in terms of money or teaching hours so a lot of our work is about putting suitable packages together”.NEWB Regional Manager. “I told him what to do and things about what was the best way to deal with her, he managed to do it and she managed to listen to him...he has worked with each one of them”. Parent, Post-Primary.

12 12 Conclusion: The Importance of Context The reasons for poor attendance can differ widely from case to case… …and different groups placed different emphases on what was considered to ‘work’. What seems to be common was the importance of:  relationships (between groups)  respect (in communications)  recognition (of individuality)

13 13 Conclusion: The Importance of Context “We try and cultivate a good atmosphere here and good relations between teachers and parents. We find that they respond better when they’re treated with respect.” Principal, Primary “There’s nothing else we could possibly have done to try and get [her] to school and she’s been told of the implications about court, and she could be put..away for a while into a board school…but nothing deters her neither” Parent, Post-Primary. “The teachers didn’t want to know and didn’t want to hear. All they care about is the uniform and the shoes”. Parent, Post-Primary. “We would find that where the school…is working closely with the parent, we tend to get an improvement…Where there is support from home [the situation] is absolutely perfect.” Principal, Post-Primary.

14 14 And Finally… If you chase lads that are falling through the system everything else just seems to go on much more smoothly, that the rest of the school population sort of see well, you know, this is a caring school that is genuinely interested in lads. If you give the resource to chasing those few it has been my experience that everything else then runs at a more even keel. Deputy Principal, Post-Primary You can’t give up on it. If we give up on it, instead of those eight names there, I guarantee you we’d have 50. So we’re chasing for the lads’ own benefit, but we’re also chasing for the benefit of the whole school. It’s never-ending and it never will be ending, you know. Deputy Principal, Post-Primary.

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