School. Too many failures in the first year of high school: 10 tips for kids and parents


Too many failures in the first year of high school: 10 tips for kids and parents

Francesco Alesi for Save the Children

Failures on the rise in the first year of high school. During the 2021-2022 school year, the highest percentage of failures was recorded among students who had just begun their career in high schools and technical or professional institutes (8.1%, about 40 thousand students). While for the following years of attendance there was a reduction in the percentage of those rejected between 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, the rate of failures for those who attended the first year of upper secondary schools increased by one percentage point. A very topical issue for many families whose children, we are talking about 530,000 students who attend eighth grade, by 30 January they are asked to choose how to continue their schooling. Last year, the choice was mainly directed towards high schools (51% of students in the 2022-23 school year), while 32% enrolled in technical institutes and the remaining 17% in vocational institutes.

The transition from secondary school to high school is a critical moment which, if not carefully considered, risks increasing early school leaving. There are several factors that can affect this figure: changing school, study methodologies, the delicate adolescent phase. But choosing the most appropriate course of study plays a fundamental role in preventing these failures.

«A quality orientation process is essential to accompany students’ school choices – explains Raffaela Milano, director of the Italy-Europe programs of Save the Children
– to prevent dropouts and to support motivation. Guidance, which must last throughout the school cycle, is an educational path that must be aimed both at making informed choices with respect to everyone’s training and employment prospects, and at fostering confidence, self-esteem, recognition of one’s talents and aspirations »,.

Particular attention, warns Save the Children, must be paid to the fight against inequalities. Too often students in financial poverty or with a migrant background are automatically directed towards vocational and technical institutes. The data show that this type of orientation does not prevent early school leaving, so much so that most of the failures in the transition between the first and second year of upper secondary school occur precisely in these institutes (12.3% of students, against 5.9% in high schools). According to the NGO, information activities are needed on the services and opportunities that the public body makes available to guarantee the right to study (scholarships, funds for the purchase of textbooks or for public transport, tax relief, etc. .), with particular attention to the most disadvantaged students.

Additional element of attention must concern the approach to the “STEM” disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in a job market in which skills in scientific subjects are increasingly in demand. Today graduates, and especially female graduates, in scientific and technological subjects are still few in Italy: in 2021 only 24% of young adults (25-34 years old) with a tertiary qualification have a degree in these disciplinary areas, a share that rises to 33.7% among men (1 out of 3) and drops to 17.6% among women (one university graduate out of six), highlighting an important gender gap.

Save the Children has been involved in the school world in Italy since 2012 with Fuoriclasse, an integrated project to combat early school leaving implemented through an intervention model built with schools and subjected to impact assessment thanks to the collaboration with the Agnelli Foundation. Since 2017, Save the Children has promoted the creation of the Fuoriclasse in Movimento network, a network of over 200 schools throughout Italy, united to promote the scholastic well-being of students and guarantee the right to quality education for all to identify shared solutions on four areas: school spaces, didactics, relationships between peers and with adults, collaboration with the territory. Save the Children in 2022 it supported over 29,000 students, 10,300 teachers and operators, 740 schools of every order and degree throughout Italy.

To guarantee support in all moments of choice and to give answers to girls, boys and families, Save the Children has prepared a decalogue – with the contribution of some teachers of the Fuoriclasse Network – with advice and suggestions

FIVE TIPS FOR STUDENTS:

1. IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOURSELF

Self-awareness, of one’s aspirations, values ​​and abilities is essential for directing one’s school career and choosing with awareness. To get to know each other, it is important to know how to go beyond satisfaction or success in a single subject and see one’s abilities and inclinations as a whole, remembering to give space to the passions cultivated even in extracurricular environments. Friendships are important, but don’t get too influenced by the choices of your companions.

2. COMPARE YOURSELF WITH ADULTS WHO KNOW YOU

Parents, teachers and educators can accompany you in the choices that concern you: an external and adult point of view can support you in clarifying the real reasons for your choice, helping you to be more aware of your potential. This does not mean delegating the choice of school to others, but also listening to those who know you well!

3. KNOW THE DIFFERENT SCHOOL PATHS

Knowing the possibilities offered by the territory helps to make the right choice. It is important to be aware of the possibilities offered by the different school streams in terms of subjects and study paths AND subsequent job opportunities. As far as new subjects are concerned, it may be useful to search the school website for the list of books: online or in the library, it is thus possible to get an idea of ​​what we will study in the future. It is also useful to meet those who know the school you are interested in directly: students, teachers and school staff. At open days it is useful to arrive prepared, drawing up a list of questions in advance.

4. KEEP THE OPPORTUNITIES OPEN

Choosing the school looking to your future helps you to better direct decisions. However, it is important to keep in mind that the same goal can also be achieved through different paths: there is the possibility, for example, of changing one’s mind about one’s study or professional path. It is not a failure, but a possible “re-orientation” can have positive implications and is part of the growth path.

5. CULTIVATE YOUR TALENTS AND PASSIONS

Dedicate time to what you are passionate about, with commitment and perseverance. Playing sports, reading, studying music, experimenting with volunteering… they are all useful activities to improve learning and well-being, as well as enriching your personality. Your wealth of experience will help you, it doesn’t matter how fast you go or how many votes you get, but with how much commitment, enthusiasm and curiosity you will be able to build your future, even when it may seem a bit difficult!

AND FIVE TIPS FOR PARENTS:

1. SUPPORT YOUR CHILD IN DISCOVERING HIMSELF AND HIS TALENTS

The choice of upper secondary school is part of the elaboration of one’s personal life plan. Parents can accompany this transition by supporting their children in becoming aware of attitudes, interests, motivations, making the most of their potential and resources, through listening, observation and open dialogue.

2. SET YOURSELF INTO A LISTENING POSITION

It is essential that boys and girls are the protagonists of their own choices and make informed decisions. It can be difficult, but it is certainly important, to maintain the right balance between wanting to impose one’s will and leaving one’s children alone in the face of such an important choice. Staying close to your children and remaining open to discussion and exchange will certainly help.

3. COMPARE WITH THE SCHOOL AND THE EDUCATING COMMUNITY

Teachers and educators can make their own valuable contribution in this choice: it is important to acquire the guidelines proposed by teachers and educators, to be open to dialogue and comparison in order to have an overall picture of the possibilities. It is essential that students, teachers and parents actively collaborate in the guidance process, also enhancing the educational co-responsibility pact between school and family.

4. FIND OUT ABOUT THE SCHOOL OFFER

It is important to find out about the overall offer of the schools, trying to get to know educational proposals, methods, projects and extra-curricular activities, outlets up close. For an overall picture of the offer, you can consult the new portal “I choose, I study”. To learn more about the characteristics of each individual institution, the portal “Clear school”: among the various documents, the PTOF (Three-year Training Offer Plan) and the RAV (Self-Assessment Report) are particularly useful.

5. ACCOMPANY BEYOND PREJUDICES AND STEREOTYPES

There is no absolute best school, there may be a best school for a specific student: beware of prejudices about certain educational paths, which could preclude the choice of a particularly suitable school for your children. Finally, orientation is also an excellent opportunity to support choices beyond gender stereotypes, valuing them primarily everyone’s interests and abilities. For example, by supporting girls and boys to become passionate about “STEM” study paths (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), or by bringing children and teenagers closer to disciplines related to education, teaching and care.

School. Too many failures in the first year of high school: 10 tips for kids and parents