This seminar presents approaches and solutions targeting the causes of early school leaving from different perspectives and in different countries.
Currently, one of the main allocations of PNRR funds to schools – with a budget of 1.5 billion – concerns the reduction of territorial disparities, to strengthen basic skills and combat early school leaving. Ministerial Decree 170 of 24 June 2022 allocated an initial allocation of 500 million to ‘Actions to prevent and combat school drop-out’. And not by chance.
Early school-leaving is one of the emergencies in Italy, which ranks third last in Europe in combating the phenomenon of Early Leavers from Education and Training (ELETs), young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who have left the education and training system with no more than a lower secondary education qualification. In 2021 they were 517,000, 12.7 per cent – three percentage points higher than the European average (9.7 per cent) – an average figure with dramatic territorial disparities. According to data just published by ISTAT, in 2022 the percentage of early leavers will have fallen to 11.5%, narrowing the gap separating Italy from the European target of falling below 9% by 2030.
Downstream of the Early Leavers are the NEETs, young people who are not studying, not working and not in training. According to OECD data published in 2022, the share of NEETs aged between 18 and 24 in 2021 was 26% in Italy, against an EU average of 13%.
To the bleak numbers of explicit dispersion, we must add those of the so-called ‘implicit’ dispersion, represented by students who obtain an upper secondary school qualification but have not reached a sufficient level of competence: according to INVALSI data for 2022 they represent 9.7%.
How can school failure be prevented and countered by abandoning habits of mind and ways of doing things of which we know the results that displease everyone? We are convinced that change comes through careful observation and listening to reality. And reality is richest at the margins, at the periphery, it is there that we pick up dissonances and needs most clearly, and it is there that if we really listen we can also grasp the seeds of the highest future possibility.
Hence the title of this seminar. It will be them, the girls and boys at risk of dropping out, who will push us to bring about that change in the school that we feel is necessary and urgent for everyone.
The aim of this seminar is to present views and accomplishments that testify to the will to take these young people into account, to prevent early school leaving. Our speakers, in one way or another, have all listened to what is happening on the margins.
 Young people aged between 18 and 24 who dropped out of school with at most a lower secondary school diploma (baccalaureate), who do not hold regional vocational qualifications obtained in courses lasting at least two years and who are not attending school or carrying out training activities.
The seminar will be introduced by Maria Teresa Siniscalco, ADi President.
Diego Mesa, sociologist, together with an overview of the causes of early school leaving will present some data collected by the Youth Observatory of the Toniolo Institute that give us young people’s point of view on school and teachers.
Eraldo Affinati, a teacher of literature in professional institutes and a writer, founded in 2008 together with his wife – Anna Luce Lenzi – the Penny Wirton school, a free Italian school for immigrants. He will tell us what he has learnt from his students and also what the state school can learn from an experience like the Penny Wirton school, which is now present in 60 locations throughout Italy.
Camilla Brandao De Souza, will tell her story, testifying how emotional intelligence can transform a life.
Nick Chambers, CEO of the UK charity Education and Employers, will talk about the goals and interesting achievements of this charity founded in 2009 that connects students with the world of work. Today, in the UK, a network of 81,000 volunteers responds to the demands of 85% of secondary schools and 6500 primary schools, broadening the horizons and aspirations of children and young people, particularly in disadvantaged contexts, and helping them to feel the relevance of what they study.
Paul Downes, Professor of Educational Psychology at Dublin City University and an expert at the European Union on early school leaving and policies to prevent, intervene in and compensate for it, will talk about key measures – both at school level and at national policy level – that help prevent early school leaving.
Ardcoil La Salle Secondary School in Dublin, which has a high concentration of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and at risk of school failure, will present what it does to provide quality education for all students, giving each the individual attention they need. Colm Mythen, school headmaster, Michelle Higgins, deputy headmaster, and Kevin McElhinney, assistant headmaster with responsibility for implementing the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) plan, will speak.
Daniele Barca, headmaster of the Mattarella Lower Secondary School, which is part of IC 3 in Modena, will tell us about the pathway through which this school has come to transform spaces, times, class groups and the setting of activities, putting technology at the service of relationships and meaningful and motivating learning for all the children.
|3:00||Introduction – Maria Teresa Siniscalco, President ADi|
|3:15||The students’ voice: Istituto Toniolo Osservatorio Giovani data – Diego Mesa, sociologist|
|3:35||Looking personally at each student: Penny Wirton, the Italian schools for immigrants – Eraldo Affinati, teacher, writer and founder of the Penny Wirton schools|
|3:50||Behind the data…faces, people, encounters: how emotional intelligence can transform a life – Camilla Brandao De Souza will tell her story|
|4:05||Connecting school with the world of work to broaden horizons and aspirations – Nick Chambers, CEO of UK charity Education and Employers|
|4:45||EU key measures to prevent early school leaving – Paul Downes, Professor of Educational Psychology|
|5:00||Giving equal opportunities in disadvantaged situations: the approach of Ardcoil La Salle Secondary School in Dublin – Colm Mythen, Headmaster, Michelle Higgins, Deputy Headmaster and Kevin McElhinney, Assistant Headmaster for DEIS|
|5:20||Pedagogical innovation and technology at the service of relationships in the Mattarella school in Modena – Daniele Barca, headmaster|
Maria Teresa Siniscalco has been National President of ADi since February and works as an expert in the field of reading comprehension for the National Institute for the Evaluation of the School System (INVALSI), where she was previously National Project Manager of the OECD PISA 2003 survey. Previously, she worked as a senior researcher at the IEA Data Processing Centre in Hamburg for the IEA-TIMSS survey. She is co-author, among others, of the Zanichelli volume ‘Le valutazioni internazionali e la scuola italiana’. She holds a PhD in Experimental Pedagogy.
Diego Mesa is contract professor of Sociology of the Family at the Catholic University of the Sacro Cuore, and a member of the Youth Observatory of the Toniolo Institute in Milan and of the Study Centre on Volunteering and Social Participation in Brescia. He has published several essays and researches on formal and non-formal education of young people, including the latest Rapporto Giovani of the Toniolo Institute, published by Il Mulino in 2022 in which he is co-author of the chapter “School. A strategic resource for young people and the country’.
Eraldo Affinati is a teacher and writer. Many books he has published stem from his many years of experience as a teacher: among others, La città dei ragazzi (2008), Elogio del ripetente (2013), Vita di vita (2014), L’uomo del futuro. On the roads of Don Lorenzo Milani (2016), Via dalla pazza classe. Educare per vivere (2019). With his wife, Anna Luce Lenzi, he founded the Penny Wirton school for the free teaching of the Italian language to immigrants, which is now spread in almost sixty locations all over Italy. Together with her she has published, with the publisher Erickson, Italiani anche noi. Corso di italiano per stranieri (2011-2019). His latest work is entitled Il Vangelo degli Angeli (HarperCollins, 2021).
Camilla Brandao De Souza, Ph.D. in Developmental and Educational Psychology, specialised in the Ruler emotional education method at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence in the United States. She has worked as a Consultant at the OECD where she worked on transversal skills in universities. At the “Observa Science in Society” research centre, she worked on Public Engagement and Science Education. At the University of Ca’ Foscari, she is particularly involved in research and training in Stem and emotional competences.
Nick Chambers is CEO of the charity Education and Employers. He started his career as a teacher. He was later appointed Development Director at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, where his responsibilities included employer engagement, and then at the prestigious St Paul’s School in London. He oversaw the production of a report on school governance by the National Council for Educational Excellence – chaired by the Prime Minister – which looked at how best to mobilise businesses and universities to work with schools and colleges. In 2009, he founded Education and Employers, to provide schools with free access to a wide range of volunteers from all sectors of the world of work.
Paul Downes, is Professor of Educational Psychology and Director of the Centre on Educational Disadvantage, Dublin City University’s Institute of Education, Affiliate Professor at the University of Malta’s Centre for Resilience and Social-Emotional Health and a member of the European Commission’s Pathways to School Success expert group. He has published numerous studies and research papers and supervised the evaluation report on the implementation of the 2011 EU Council Recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving.
Ardcoil La Salle Secondary School Dublin
It is a DEIS school, an acronym that stands for Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, and indicates schools that, on the basis of a ‘vulnerability’ indicator, are characterised by a high concentration of students with a disadvantaged background and at risk of school failure. These schools receive more resources and at the same time their functioning is monitored year by year. Over the past 10 years, the school has undergone a profound transformation that has led it to become one of the most successful local schools: the students not only do well in school, but also perform well in their final year exams, more than two thirds of them continue their studies at tertiary level (a very high rate for a DEIS school) and many of them reach the highest educational and career levels. Colm Mythen, school headmaster, Michelle Higgins, vice headmaster, and Kevin McElhinney, assistant headmaster in the implementation of the DEIS plan, talk about this.
Mattarella Secondary School
The Mattarella Secondary School has progressively transformed spaces, times, class groups and the setting of activities, putting technology at the service of relationships and meaningful and motivating learning for all pupils. Daniele Barca, headmaster of the Istituto Comprensivo 3 in Modena, of which the Mattarella school is part, talks about this. Daniela Barca has worked with Indire and other educational and university agencies on the introduction of ICT in teaching, has collaborated on the drafting of the ‘Piano Nazionale Scuola Digitale’ (National Digital School Plan) and has just published, with Giunti, a book entitled ‘La scuola nell’età dello tsunami’ (School in the age of the tsunami), which proposes a radical rethink of the first grade secondary school.
Maria Teresa Siniscalco, President ADi (please activate automatic subtitles)
The students’ voice: Istituto Toniolo Osservatorio Giovani data
Diego Mesa, sociologist (please activate automatic subtitles)
Looking personally at each student: Penny Wirton, the Italian schools for immigrants
Eraldo Affinati, teacher, writer and founder of the Penny Wirton schools (please activate automatic subtitles)
Behind the data…faces, people, encounters: how emotional intelligence can transform a life
Camilla Brandao De Souza will tell her story (please activate automatic subtitles)
Connecting school with the world of work to broaden horizons and aspirations
Nick Chambers, CEO of UK charity Education and Employers
EU key measures to prevent early school leaving
Paul Downes, Professor of Educational Psychology
Giving equal opportunities in disadvantaged situations: the approach of Ardcoil La Salle Secondary School in Dublin
Colm Mythen, Headmaster, Michelle Higgins, Deputy Headmaster and Kevin McElhinney, Assistant Headmaster for DEIS
Pedagogical innovation and technology at the service of relationships in the Mattarella school in Modena
Daniele Barca, headmaster (please activate automatic subtitles)
Maria Teresa Siniscalco, President ADi (please activate automatic subtitles)