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Comparing serious or persistent absence from school in England and the Netherlands: an exploration of the influence of vulnerability and offending behaviour

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

  • Myrtle Fenna van Veldhuizen
This comparative project aims to discover differences and similarities between England and the Netherlands in the characteristics of serious or persistent absentees, and to investigate the influence of the level of vulnerability and offending behaviour. Furthermore, it compares the response of the local authority to serious or persistent absence from school in both countries. Whereas the focus of the response is solely on the parents in England, the emphasis of the response in the Netherlands lies on the serious or persistent absentees themselves. This project takes a broad approach, exploring the overall response to serious or persistent absence from school in each of the countries. In doing so, the project treats serious or persistent absence from school as a complex and wicked problem.
The level of vulnerability and offending behaviour impacts on the characteristics of serious or persistent absentees. This project identifies four groups of absentees in each of the countries: The low vulnerability/low offending behaviour group, the primarily offending group, the primarily vulnerable group and the high vulnerability/high offending behaviour group. Whilst in England the low vulnerability/low offending behaviour group experiences the fewest problems, in the Netherlands this was the primarily offending group. Within the whole sample, English absentees are more likely to use drugs, have mental health problems and experience more problems within their family compared to the Dutch absentees. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, case files more often mention sleep issues and communication problems between parents and schools.
In both countries, not many serious or persistent absentees improved their attendance, obtained a qualification or found employment after the response to their absence from school. Although the results in the Netherlands were better than in England for improving attendance and having employment, this project demonstrates that both responses focusing on the parents (in England) and on the young person (in the Netherlands) are not very successful. In fact, it argues that the level of vulnerability and offending behaviour of the absentee is a much better indicator for the likelihood of positive outcomes than the type of response a local authority employs to the serious or persistent absentee and/or the parents.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award dateAug 2018

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