In 2010, the Ministry of Education released a report on student attendance and engagement. “Attendance and engagement in school improves employment, social and life chances and reduced the development of antisocial behaviour and youth offending. Poor attendance, or truancy, is a clear indicator of disengagement from education and is often a precursor to students leaving school early without the education and qualifications they need to succeed in today’s world”.
We don’t need a team of analysts to tell us this; it is basic common sense. If students aren’t engaged at school, they are far more likely to avoid the classroom wherever possible. However, it is good to remind ourselves of the flow on effect of not dealing with truancy, and how this can impact both individual and our society.
The best way to improve attendance at school is to give students something that makes them look forward to going to school, to engage them in something that is interesting to them.
Addressing truancy is not something that people normally think of when it comes to Young Enterprise, and to be honest it’s not something we actively consider when developing our programmes. However, it can be a by-product of what we do.
We often talk about the business skills that are learnt through Young Enterprise, and the work-ready skills that students gain through our programmes. But what often gets overlooked is the fact that our programmes are hands-on and practical. Students engage because they see the relevance. They engage because it’s authentic.
I was recently reminded of this fact when I watched a video which interviewed a number of our students from the Hawke’s Bay area. It was so rewarding to hear a student say “My attendance before YES was really low, and YES gave me something to look forward to going to school, and so my attendance has improved a lot because of YES and I’m grateful for that”.
Often when we look at the impact of Young Enterprise, we focus on the entrepreneurs that we are creating, the job creators and innovators. But we should also remember and recognise the students that we help to keep in school, and the difference that will make on their lives.