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    Early School Leaving in Ireland The Matrix of Influences Explored

    Stokes, Dermot (2003) Early School Leaving in Ireland The Matrix of Influences Explored. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    In Ireland, five per cent of young people leave school with no qualifications. In all, almost twenty per cent leave without attempting the Leaving Certificate. Early school leaving is associated with poor labour market outcomes, social exclusion and a range of other difficulties. Explanations tend towards the epidemiological and focus on the action of a matrix of risk factors and causal processes. However, this explanatory framework is contested by practitioners and qualitative researchers. Many young people have been encountered in YOUTHREACH who do not conform to the morbid stereotype. The purpose of this thesis is to test the explanatory framework for early school leaving. It accomplishes this through a combination of case study observations of a representative sample of early school leavers in YOUTHREACH centres and interviews with the Observers who conducted the case study observations. The outcomes confirm the value of the matrix as a general framework for explaining early school leaving. Learning and other needs are found amongst the subjects. Aspects of family functioning feature, as do school-based factors.. It appears that schools operate within learning/ behavioural norms and when the relationship between child and school breaks down, the school is unwilling to retrieve it. Risktaking is much in evidence. Some subjects are clearly already established offenders and live in extreme situations. However, it is also the case that many subjects are lawabiding, some even timid and many families are quite normal. The research also finds unexpected outcomes, for example that a majority of subjects do not have problems of identity or self-esteem. This highlights the shortcomings of the matrix as a basis for resolving the difficulties of individual young people - no element applies to all. Overall, the ‘matrix of influences’ helps to explain early school leaving in general, but not the individual process. Every child is different - each individual’s pathway is personal, idiosyncratic and incidental. As a result, while preventive measures demonstrate many local and individual successes, early school leaving is at the same level now as in 1997. Why do preventive measures have so little effect? Partly it is because the outcomes reflect Irish society (as do schools). The prevailing explanations are pathological and responses follow suit, but in fact leaving school early may be a rational response to an intolerable situation, A number of new paradigms are recommended in this thesis as a result, for example education completion rather than school completion. New paradigms demand changes at the level of approaches, relationships and organisation and a keener understanding of lifelong learning. The formal education system has much to learn from the nonformal system, in youth work, YOUTHREACH and adult and community education. But most fundamentally, the learner must be returned to centre stage.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Early School Leaving; Ireland; Matrix;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Adult and Community Education
    Item ID: 5087
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2014 13:20
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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