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A broad and balanced education which includes a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities for students can help to reduce student drop-out at second level, ASTI President Joe Moran said today.
Commenting on the publication of the ESRI report “No Way Back? The Dynamics of Early School Leaving” by Dr Delma Byrne and Dr Emer Smyth, Mr Moran said second-level teachers will not be surprised at the typical profile of early school leavers as described in the study. “The higher levels of drop out amongst young men who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and often from unemployed households is a matter of great concern to teachers,” said Mr Moran.
However, Mr Moran commented that more research was needed into why many young people with the same profile as early school leavers, complete their second-level education. He said the experiences of these students could help to inform the education community.
“Anecdotal evidence from second-level teachers suggests that the hidden school curriculum - including sports, school musicals and other activities - plays a key role in enabling vulnerable students to build up positive school experiences. Teachers report that these kinds of experiences can impact positively on students’ self esteem, social interaction and on their attitude to learning” said Mr Moran.
Mr Moran said ASTI research undertaken this year shows clear evidence that the capacity of second-level schools to offer extra-curricular activities to students is diminishing due to the education cutbacks: “The education cutbacks have affected the entire school community. However, in the long-term we will see that vulnerable and disadvantaged students are suffering disproportionately. This is because when you take more resources out of an already under-resourced education service, the result is deeper inequality.”
Evidence emphasising the importance of pupil-teacher interaction cited in the ESRI report supports the ASTI’s campaign for smaller class sizes, concluded Mr Moran.