A multi-disciplinary approach to the management of non-school attendance
The main objective of this study is to evaluate the effects of school-based projects on the behaviour of secondary school persistent absentees. The research was divided between two school-based projects: (a) Project X, based at School X, consists of seven Subject pupils who are non-school attenders; (b) Project Y, based at School Y, consists of 16 Subject adolescents who are non-school attenders, they were matched with two control groups who attend the mainstream curriculum - 16 Control A adolescents who are non-school attenders and 16 Control B adolescents who are good school attenders. The behaviour of the School X Subject pupils were evaluated via a within-subject design in order to compare their progress during pre-intervention (i. e. mainstream curriculum), intervention (i. e. Project X programme) and follow-up (i. e. return to mainstream curriculum) phases. In the case of School Y, the progress of the three groups were evaluated via both within-subject and between-subject designs during three phases: a one-year pre-intervention period (i. e. when all three groups attended mainstream lessons); first year of intervention (i. e. Project Y programme for the Subject adolescents) and the second year of intervention (i. e. Project Y programme for the Subject adolescents). The analyses of the main results indicate that: 1. Persistent absenteeism is significantly associated with social deprivation (e. g. poor housing) and poor scholastic progress. The findings also show that both parents and teachers believe that there should be greater contact between the home and school. 2. The two school-based projects were successful in significantly increasing school attendance among persistent absentees, although they were unable to generalise this over time (e. g. during the follow-up phase at School X). Nevertheless, some of their curricular approaches which appear to contribute to combating disaffection include an emphasis on behaviour therapy, academic-orientated lessons, individual attention, pupil being the focus of adult attention, close proximity between teacher and pupil during interaction, teacher praise, indirect, teaching where pupils are allowed greater freedom of expression, direct, teaching where pupils receive regular lectures and directions in relation to task-work, small classes, extra adult helpers, high levels of teacher-pupil interaction, and regular contact with local community. Therefore, despite the limitations, the importance of this thesis lies in the fact that not only does it show data on the actual classroom behaviour of persistent absentees and their teachers, but it also presents data on the type of classroom atmosphere which appear to be related to positive pupil outcomes among disaffected school children. Thus, the present study concludes that persistent absenteeism is effectively interpreted within a multi-disciplinary framework which reflects both home and school factors.