02 SES 09 B, Dual VET International
Second chance schools was the name given at the turn of the century to initiatives of different kind attempting to train and retain young people who had dropped of the formal education system (Commission of the European Communities, 1995). This umbrella notion allowed the implementation of different kinds of training, mostly practical training, preparing for trades, which would motivate young people to enroll and learn in order to facilitate a smooth transition into working life, and such initiatives were also evaluated and reported (European Commission, 2001). Most of these initiatives were promoted by the municipalities.
One of Spain’s main educational challenges is early leaving of education and training (Fernández et al., 2010; García et al., 2013), where the rate is of 17.9%, the highest in the European Union, and the average is 10.6% (MECD, 2019), even if it has significantly decreased since the financial crisis, where it amounted 31.7%. This is a problem both for young people as well as for the labour market (García-Montero, 2016).
In 2016, the Spanish Association of Second Chance Schools was established, promoted by 5 Third Sector of Social Action organizations, and it has expanded since then to achieve 43 partners nowadays, employing more than 700 trainers and enrolling more than 8000 students all over the country. This association gathers institutions of different kinds (associations, foundations, cooperatives and others) that are part of the Social Economy and that provide training for employment for young people ages 16 to 29 in order to help them to enter the labour market with a qualification or having access to formal vocational education. The Association has established an accreditation procedure that is guaranteed through an external body and an internal committee, a process which relies upon five principles. Three of these principles are behind our research question, these are a) favouring social and labour integration; b) developing social and occupational competencies; and c) cooperation with companies.
Our theoretical framework assumes that early school leaving is a multidimensional process where individual and social features are combined with a sense of fail in the experience of schooling (Bonal, 2003; García, Casal, Merino y Sánchez, 2013; Escudero, 2005; Bernad, ,Giménez, Horcas, Martínez, and Navas, 2015; Horcas, Bernad, and Martínez, 2015; García-Rubio, 2015). Therefore, we assume that second chance schools offer these youngsters chances to reengage, reconnect and develop a sense of belonging through a space of personal and vocational identity that restores their educational experience and invites them to search and follow their vocation.
The Spanish Ministry of Education has commissioned our research group to conduct a research on all accredited second chance schools where we are inquiring young people on their past and present educational experience; trying to differentiate the relevance of the personal, the social, and the occupational dimensions. We are also finding out about the educational practice of second chance schools: their projects, methodologies and organizational arrangements, as well as their choices of occupations for the vocational training.
The research question we want to address in this contribution is what the relevance of work-based learning, practical teaching, and occupational training in the reengagement of young people is. In order to find this out, we will use our data to establish differences among types of students according to the value they attribute to the vocational dimension of second chance schools.
Even if our data are from a Spanish sample, we will confront our results with those of similar experiences internationally and will conclude our contribution with a discussion of current national and European policies addressing vocational training of early school leavers.
We prepared a questionnaire for students in second chance schools in February 2020, but its application had to wait until October 2020 because of the health situation. The questionnaire has gone through a process of content-validation by experts as well as it was piloted in two groups of pupils in second chance schools. We obtained data from more than 2000 students in 42 second chance schools all over the country; data were gathered between October and December 2020. Between February and April 2021 we will collect qualitative data from teachers and trainers in schools, and we will try to conduct interviews with students if the circumstances allow it in Spring. The online questionnaire includes, beyond sociodemographic data, information about previous educational trajectories, young people expectations, their assessment of their previous school experience and their assessment of their current educational experience in the second chance schools. The questionnaire has closed and open questions, and the latter have been codified and analysed in order to facilitate further bivariate and multivariate statistical inference. We will be able to combine the previous educational trajectories to the expectations, and we will do so by focusing on the value they attribute to the occupational dimension of the second chance school, in contrast with the other two dimensions: wellbeing as an adolescent and the strengthening of social relations. We will then contrast these results with the emphasis laid by the second chance schools on these dimensions. Our purpose is to identify what are the features of the schools and the pupils whose reengagement is laid upon the occupational profiling of the training experience, the practical teaching provided and the chances to develop occupational skills through work-based learning either in companies or in the school workshops.
We expect to identify different types of students according to their reengagement in some form of educational experience. Among those who reengage, we will differentiate those who hold a clear positive view of the school, those who hold a clear negative view and those who have a mixed balance. We will then provide an insight into the value young people attribute to the personal, the social, and the occupational dimension. Within the occupational dimension, we will analyse differences among those who are inclined towards a particular occupation or vocation that they have discovered; those who value the opportunity they find in second chance schools to enjoy some form of practical learning above all; those who appreciate the usefulness and application of the knowledge they are learning; and those who place the relevance in the chance they find to have access to the labour market with a qualification and, therefore, to start their own living as adults. Our results will include analysis by age, gender, national origin, mother tongue and school. We expect also to identify differences among second chance schools: those with a larger orientation towards reengagement in formal vocational education and in lifelong learning, and those that conceive themselves as platforms where young people take off towards their working life. The latter will be classified according to a) the focus upon social and personal development or occupational qualification (Marhuenda and García, 2017) b) the role of social and occupational competencies in their curriculum and the accreditation of them (Villardón-Gallego et al., 2020); and c ) the occupational profiles they offer and the kind of cooperation with companies they provide; hence focusing upon the three principles related to work to which every school commits when joining the Spanish Association.
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