Children at Risk of School Dropout

This chapter begins by outlining the routes through which children ‘drop out’ of school. It then draws on the failings of the English system to suggest six key ‘lessons’ for other jurisdictions. The first centres on how academic results-driven accountability measures push schools and decision-makers into unjustifiably excluding children. The second demonstrates the vulnerability of discretionary frameworks to perverse incentives and unintended negative consequences for children at risk of ‘drop out’. The third highlights the difficulties created by increased autonomy for teachers and schools. The fourth reveals how additional protections for particularly vulnerable children are constrained by the broader exclusion regime. The fifth and sixth demonstrate the need for jurisdictions to revisit the conceptual and empirical basis of their legal frameworks for exclusion, whether grounded in ‘best interests’, competing ‘interests’, or ‘children’s rights’. It concludes by emphasising the need to develop empirical evidence to underpin decisions around ‘drop out’.

[A pre-publication version of this chapter is available here.  It will be published in JG Dwyer (ed), Oxford Handbook of Children and the Law (OUP 2019).]

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