6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET)
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The prevention and reduction of early school leaving is a major theme of national and European educational policies. This being so, France is in line with the Europe 2020 strategy against early leaving from education and training which aims at halving the number of young people leaving the education system each year without a diploma, and limiting inequities in terms of access to knowledge while increasing the level of qualification and skills of the whole school population.
In France, this strategy focuses on prevention and remediation and is based on an inter-ministerial partnership work, particularly between the ministries in charge of National Education, labour, agriculture, health and overseas affairs, but also with local authorities, associations involved in the field of education, as well as families (of pupils) and representatives of the professional world. Local authorities and specifically the Regions also have a prominent role to play in the prevention of school failure, in particular because their competences in the area of early school leaving and vocational guidance have been reinforced by the public authorities.
This prevention plan is based, inter alia, on data and analyses produced by the ministerial studies services: the Centre for Studies and Research on Qualifications (CEREQ) under the joint authority of the ministries in charge of education and labour and the Directorate of Evaluation, Forecasting and Performance Monitoring (DEPP) of the Ministry of National Education.
The political strategy against early school leaving has been subject to an assessment by the “Policy-making Modernisation” (Modernisation de l'action publique, MAP), with the publication in 2014 of a final diagnostic report.
This preventive policy against early school leaving pursued since several years, is producing effects today with the decrease in the number of young people leaving school each year without a qualification. This decrease is due to a better identification of the young people and to the mobilisation of all the stakeholders at the heart of the prevention strategy.
- Back-to-school 2020 circular dated 10 July 2020 (§ II -C: tackling early school leaving);
- law n° 2018-771 of 5 September 2018 for the freedom to choose one’s professional future
- articles L122-2 (entitlement to qualifying training) and L313-7 (obligation to provide the contact details of the young people who are no longer engaged in a training cycle).
- Article L114-1 (training obligation for young people between 16 and 18 years old) ;
Formal education plays a key role in the “Everyone mobilised against school dropout” plan, in particular due to the fact that teachers are in a position to detect pupils experiencing difficulties.
A training programme on prevention and detection of early signs of dropout was organised for teaching staff, who had already been made aware of the importance of teamwork and working with parents. “School dropout advisors” acting under the aegis of school heads were added to school staff (Circular no.2013-035 of 29 March 2013).
Other measures contained in the plan were implemented by the Ministry of National Education including:
- Creation of a body of National Education psychologists;
- Organisation of “educational alliances” bringing together a range of stakeholders, including parents, and coordinating interventions by various professionals in the field of education and external partners;
- Setup of “parent spaces”, consisting of regular meetings with parents, particularly those whose children are in danger of dropping out of school;
- Implementation of an “Opening the school to parents for successful integration” scheme, designed for allophone pupils and aiming to develop French-language acquisition;
- Annual organisation of “Perseverance Week” at all local education authorities*, providing an occasion to promote preventive actions and schemes implemented in schools (*the local education authority is the Ministry of National Education’s reference administrative district);
- Development of school/company actions;
- Creation of information centres for 16-25 y/o who have left the school system and wish to resume their education: website reviensteformer.fr and hotline.
Within the Ministry of National Education, a specific mission to tackle early school leaving with personnel and resources is implementing target actions: the mission to tackle early school leaving (mission de lutte contre le décrochage scolaire, MLDS) aims to prevent early school leaving, facilitate access to a diploma and qualification for early school leavers, and secure training paths.
The missions and skills of the staff involved in the MLDS are defined by a national framework of activities and competencies.
- The prevention activity is conducted in schools by “early school leaving prevention groups” (GPDS).
- An “early school leaving referent” is responsible for coordinating the activity and support actions of the GPDS.
The fight against early school leaving is given concrete expression through:
· A tool; the inter-ministerial information exchange system (système interministériel d’échange d’informations, SIEI) enables a detection of early school leavers based on the cross-use of the databases of the Ministry of National Education and its partners (agriculture, apprentice training centres, employment) as part of annual identification campaigns
· Platforms for follow-up and support to early school leavers (plateformes de suivi et d’appui aux décrocheurs, PSAD), responsible for contacting the young people identified by the SIEI to offer them an interview and an individualised solution for their re-entry into education / training or vocational integration.
In addition, the Ministry of National Education also works jointly with community-based stakeholders in order to implement this strategy. For example, since 2010, it has been leading a partnership with the Fondation de France, the first French philanthropy network to tackle early school leaving.
Since the 2020 new school year, measures against early school leaving have been reinforced by article 15 (entry into force at the start of the 2020 school year) of the law no. 2019-791 of 26 July 2019 which imposes a training obligation for all 16 to 18 year olds. The targeted audience is young people who are not in education, training or employment, “NEET”.
The training obligation goes beyond formal education, as well as the right to re-enter education or the entitlement to vocational training: it includes other situations such as employment, the civic service (public volunteering scheme) and engagement in a support or social and vocational integration mechanism. This measure is aimed at an out-of-school audience and mobilises stakeholders outside the vocational field of formal education such as local missions (see Glossary) which are responsible for ensuring compliance with this training obligation, in close cooperation with the other stakeholders: schools, information and guidance centres, Pôle emploi (see Glossary).
Other partners are involved:
- the structures of the Youth Information network and information tools for young people
- the youth legal protection services
- associations specialising in the field of disability
- sports associations which can help identify the public concerned by the training obligation.
- associations with a Youth and Non-formal Education authorisation involved in many areas of youth work (“animation”), collective reception of minors, socio-education, specialised prevention, such as La ligue de l'enseignement (the Teaching League), AFEV, the Civic Service Agency or UnisCité, Booster programme.
Besides the partnerships, institutional schemes which are not part of formal education aim to reduce and prevent early school leaving:
Second chance schools (E2c)
Second chance schools (Ecoles de la deuxième chance, E2c) offer specific courses for early school leavers at the infra-V level with 6 month programmes for updating basic knowledge at the end of lower secondary school and promoting social and vocational integration with significant periods of in-company placements. E2c serve 15,000 young people and form a network of 46 schools on 110 sites spread across the country.
The public establishment for integration into employment (établissement public d’insertion dans l’emploi, EPIDE) welcomes 3,000 young “dropouts” with no qualification or diploma and offers them sessions lasting on average 8 months in internship where re-socialisation is the main objective. This organisation has 20 centres in Metropolitan France. The trainees attend refresher courses there. The scheme has a military dimension even if the young people do not necessarily join the army.
The adapted military service (SMA) and the voluntary military service (SMV)
Under the Ministry of Overseas affairs, the adapted military service (SMA) is a military socio-professional integration scheme for young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are remote from the labour market. The aim is to provide young people with a 6-12 month route to employment, within specific military units. The programme is organised around two pillars: training in community life and vocational training. SMV is the extension of SMA to Metropolitan France.
The Youth Guarantee
The Youth Guarantee scheme, aimed at 16-25 year olds with little or no qualifications, who are neither enrolled in a cycle of studies, nor in training or employment, operates alongside all the measures established to prevent early school leaving. The Youth Guarantee limits the casualisation of young so-called “dropouts” and is intended to lead these young people in very precarious situations toward independence and support them in their socio-vocational integration. Furthermore, the Youth Guarantee, which is also a multi-partnership and cross-sectoral scheme (see Youth Wiki 3.6 Integration of Young people in the labour market) acts complementarily, particularly as a result of its target audience (age group) of 16-25 year olds, whereas the schemes for preventing early school leaving are most often aimed at a younger audience, in particular children in primary and secondary schools.
For more information on the prevention of early school leaving, see Eurydice “Tackling early leaving from education and training in Europe”.
The early school leaving prevention plan is a multi-partnership and cross-sectoral plan, initiated and coordinated by the Ministry of National Education, mobilising various stakeholders: ministries, local authorities, institutions, public operators, associations and companies. This mobilisation translates into several initiatives and the creation of structures and tools including the follow-up and support to early school leavers platforms (PSAD) which are at the heart of this policy against early school leaving: “ the coordination tool for all the local stakeholders involved in the phases of identification, support and follow-up of the young people who have left the education system with no diploma or qualification.”
These platforms integrate in particular the Training Qualification Employment (FOQUALE) networks, which are deployed throughout the country and bring together the establishments and schemes affiliated to national education. There are today around 380 PSAD.
“Dropout” monitoring and support platforms
Such platforms are a way of coordinating local stakeholders in the training, guidance and integration of young people. They aim to provide rapid personalised answers to any young person over 16 years old who has left the education system unqualified and with no professional certification. They are coordinated by regional authorities (Chief Education Officers, Regional Prefects and Presidents of Regional Councils). Such platforms include Information and Guidance Centres (CIOs – Centres d’Information et d’Orientation) and local missions that receive and inform young people. (For information on CIOs and local missions, see Youth Wiki 3.4 Career Guidance and Counselling).
Platforms may bring in the following interest parties to assist their operation (non-exhaustive list):
- Actors in education: schools, school heads, etc.;
- Actors in employment: local missions, Pôle Emploi (Job Centres), training bodies, companies, employers organisations, etc.;
- Actors in healthcare: social workers, representatives of associations, child welfare services, etc.;
- Actors in youth volunteering schemes: Civic Service Agency (see Youth Wiki 2.2 Administration and governance of Youth Volunteering: main actors).
A guide on implementing platforms has been drawn up: Guide des Plates-formes de suivi et d'appui aux jeunes en situation de décrochage (Guide to platforms for monitoring and support of early school leavers).