02 SES 09 C, At-Risk Careers
The high rates of school drop-outs in education and training (ATEF) represent a serious problem for education systems that provide universal access to education. Spain has one of the highest rates among European Union (EU) nations, despite the clear improvements seen over recent years.
Internationally, research on drop-outs from vocational training mainly focuses on risk factors and their interactions, the processes that lead to dropping out as well as retention factors (Glaesser, 2006; Gaillard, 2010; Jaapinen, 2010; Molgat, Deschenaux y Leblanc, 2011; Tangaard, 2013; CEDEFOP, 2016). The NCVER (2005) has set out as reasons for dropping out: a lack of motivation for the course content, student perception that the courses do not match the reality of the job market and that teachers have few skills and little knowledge in what they are teaching. As factors that reduce dropping out, Jaapinen (2010) points to: flexibility and adaptability to student changes and requirements, the capacity to share the pedagogical approach with students, the capacity to critically analyse education practices and multi-profession educational guidance. Dore and Lüscher (2011) highlight lack of motivation and interest in courses being among the main reasons why students drop out of VET courses.
In Spain, research into the contribution of educational practices to preventing drop-outs in vocational secondary education, as well as the conditions that aid said practices at education centres, is scant and narrowly focussed (Cerdà, Sureda and Comas, 2017); other analyses to highlight include Tarabini (2015) and Benito and González (2007) who set out the importance of the institutional setting and school engagement in successful VET pathways.
Research into Vocational Training highlights the need for educational practices that go beyond more traditional foci, and match the characteristics of a group who tend to have academic problems and negative experiences in obligatory education (López and Palomares, 2012; Marín, García and Sola, 2013; González, 2015; Salvà-Mut, Nadal-Cavaller and Melià-Barceló, 2016).
In this context, our study focusses on educational practices that prevent students dropping out at FPGM levels (Intermediate VET) from the perspective of teachers and students.
 Early drop-outs from education and training (ATEF) represent the percentage of 18 to 24 year-olds who have a lower Secondary School level or below (those with levels 0-2 on the International Standard Classification of Education table) and who are not following any education or training course.
 This paper is part of the 'Successful Pathways and Dropping Out in Vocational Training in the Education System Levels 1 and 2' (ref. EDU2013-42854-R) funded by the Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness, National Research Agency (AEI) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
This is an explanatory, exclusively qualitative study as this is the most appropriate perspective for our study purpose. This research aims to: identify the most important features at the selected centres, especially those with a significant link to successful student pathways, and recognise, describe and analyse educational practices that are perceived as successful by those involved (students and teachers). The selected study method enables us to better uncover the real learning contexts and identify the most relevant features at the centres, specifically those with an important link to preventing course drop-outs. It also provides us with the chance to explore, define, describe and illustrate which educational practices are perceived as successful by those involved, under what conditions and in which specific contexts. The characteristics of the project mean that the use of case studies is particularly suitable since detailed narration of the features and operation of the area under research at different centres will provide a contextualised, holistic, multifaceted and in-depth understanding thereof. The Es Liceu and Son Llebre centres were selected from those who obtain satisfactory student retention results. The reporting subjects were selected based on a purposive sampling of teachers and students so that those best able to respond to the research questions would take part. The sample comprises 16 subjects of whom nine are students and seven teachers (12 teachers and four members of the management team, each with privileged knowledge in their area). We have chosen two basic tools: the in-depth interview and discussion groups. In both instances, the factors at centres that were decisive in school drop-outs were looked at (Salvà-Mut, Oliver-Trobat and Comas -Forgas, 2014): • General organisation of the centre and education project • Centre and classroom atmosphere • Training offer and focus of curriculum content • Teaching and assessment strategies in the classroom • Communication and engagement between students and teachers • Teacher expectations • Prevention and intervention practices regarding absenteeism, failure and dropping out. Analysis of the collected data has been undertaken without prior categorisation so as to avoid distortions that could be caused by prior classifications. In this sense, we have chosen a naturalist categorisation that comes out of the data themselves.
The results obtained have enabled us to identify that the education practices deemed key in preventing school drop-outs in Intermediate VET courses are: closeness and availability of teachers, belief in students' potential and an active dynamic in the classroom. In terms of the organisational aspects that help prevent drop-outs, there is wide consensus in seeing as key: a low number of teachers for each group, a low number of students per class and good teacher coordination. In this vein, believing in students stands out and not just for academic merit: the aim is to get them to learn to believe in themselves and see themselves as valid individuals. Here we are therefore referring to a positive, optimistic and confident view (Meireu, 2001) that values and makes students feel valued, comprises willingness and turns students into protagonists in education activities and in their own lives (Pérez de Lara, 2000). The positive assessment of contact with the future professional activity stands out in Intermediate VET, while the lack of initiatives at centres to overcome the huge contradictions and difficulties arising from an educational model where one of the entry requirements is failure in secondary school education is a major element. In short, we should focus our attention on those factors at centres that could boost this engagement and, subsequently, educational success. As mentioned by Orthner, Cook, Rose, Randolph et al. (2002), these include a culture of care that emphasises early identification of at-risk students and special attention being paid to them.
Benito, R. and González, I. (2007). Procesos de segregación escolar en Cataluña. Barcelona: Editorial Mediterrània. CEDEFOP (2016). Leaving Education Early: Putting Vocational Education and Training Centre Stage. Vol. I: Investigating Causes and Extent. Luxembourg: Publications Office. Cerdà, A.; Sureda, J.; Comas, R. (2017). Recommendations for Confronting Vocational Education Dropout: A Literature Review. Empirical Res Voc Ed Train (2017) 9:17 Dore, R. and Lüscher, A. Z. (2011).Persistence and Dropout in the Vocational Education High School in Minas Gerais. Cadernos de Pesquisa, 41 (144), 770-789. Gaillard, J. (2010). Comprendre la réclusion scolaire. Comment les élèves de lycée professionnel s’isolent. Paris: Harmattan. González, M.T. (2015). La vulnerabilidad escolar y los programas de Cualificación Profesional Inicial. Barcelona: Wolters Kluwer España. Jäppinen, A. (2010). Preventing Early Leaving in Vet: Distributed Pedagogical Leadership in Characterising Five Types of Successful Organisations. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 62(3), 297-312. López, S. and Palomares, A. (2012). La respuesta a la diversidad: de los Programas de Garantía Social hacia los Programas de Cualificación Profesional Inicial. Revista Española de Educación Comparada, 20, 249-274. Marín, J.A.; García, M. and Sola, J.M. (2013). Reflexión y análisis sobre los Programas de Cualificación Profesional Inicial como medida de inclusión social y educativa en Andalucía (España). Revista Iberoamericana sobre Calidad, Eficacia y Cambio en Educación, 12, 83-102. Meirieu, Ph. (2001). La opción de educar. Barcelona: Octaedro. Molgat, M., Deschenaux, F. and LeBlanc, P. (2011). Vocational Education in Canada: Do Policy Directions and Youth Trajectories Always Meet?. Journal of Vocational Education y Training, 63(4),505-524. NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research). (2005). Why Do Students Leave? Leaving Vocational Education and Training with No Recorded Achievement. Adelaide: Australian National Training Authority. Orthner, D. K., Cook, P. G., Rose, R. A., & Randolph, K. (2002). Welfare Reform, Poverty, and Children'S Performance in School: Challenges for the School Community. Children & Schools, 24(2), 105-121. Pérez de Lara, N. (2000). La capacidad de ser sujeto. Barcelona: Laertes. Salvà-Mut, F., Nadal-Cavaller, J. and Melià-Barceló, M. A. (2016). Itinerarios de éxito y rupturas en la educación de segunda oportunidad. Revista Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Niñez y Juventud, 14 (2), 1405-1419. Salvà-Mut, F., Oliver-Trobat, M.F. and Comas-Forgas, R. (2014). Abandono escolar y desvinculación de la escuela: perspectiva del alumnado. magis, Revista Internacional de Investigación en Educación, 6 (13), 129-142. Tarabini, A. (dir) (2015). ¿Continuidad o abandono escolar? El efecto de los centros educativos en las decisiones de continuidad formativa de los jóvenes. Centro Reina Sofía sobre adolescencia y juventud.
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