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Reducing early school leaving

Reducing early school leaving


Council conclusions on reducing early school leaving and promoting success in school



  • They review the causes and far-reaching consequences of early school leaving in the EU and discuss measures to reduce it, promoting success in school for all.


In 2014, 11.1 % of 18 to 24 year olds (around 4.4 million) left education and training without completing an upper secondary programme (source: Eurostat, 2014). Reducing the rate to less than 10 % was one of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Although progress has been made, there are still too many pupils who leave education prematurely, and huge discrepancies remain between and within EU countries.

The challenges

Early school leaving results from a range of personal, social, economic, cultural, educational, gender- and family-related factors, and is linked to disadvantage from early childhood.

Groups with low socioeconomic status are most affected, as well as children with migrant backgrounds, Roma children and children with special educational needs.

The quality of education can lead learners to leave education prematurely.

Issues include:

  • an unfavourable school climate, violence and bullying;
  • an environment where learners do not feel respected or valued;
  • inappropriate teaching methods and curricula;
  • insufficient learner support;
  • lack of career guidance;
  • poor teacher-pupil relationships.

Completing secondary education or vocational training is one key to a successful transition from education to work or the next stages of education and training. Providing support measures to help learners complete their education contributes to breaking a cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality.

The response

The Council calls for an inclusive and coordinated response, promoting tolerance, respect and equal opportunities, as well as social integration, intercultural understanding and a sense of belonging in schools.

EU countries are called upon to implement the 2011 Council recommendation on reducing early school leaving, in particular by:

  • developing strategies for educational quality;
  • ensuring the participation of stakeholders from all sectors;
  • enhancing data on learners, especially those at risk;
  • monitoring educational progress to identify learners at risk earlier;
  • understanding the reasons for early school leaving, including listening to learners;
  • developing effective guidance, support and follow-up;
  • identifying schools which might benefit from additional support;
  • reforming education systems where appropriate;
  • ensuring access to early childhood education and care.

Collaborative approach

A collaborative approach is encouraged, for instance through:

  • quality assurance and planning which involves the entire school community;
  • partnerships between schools and the wider community;
  • cooperation between schools and the sharing of good practice;
  • leadership excellence;
  • culture of support between pupils, families and staff;
  • support for learners at risk, including mentoring, counselling and language support;
  • extracurricular activities (e.g. sports and cultural pursuits).

Teachers should have skills, competences and background knowledge in classroom and diversity management (e.g. practices to ensure the inclusion of people with diverse characteristics, backgrounds and cultures), relationship building, conflict resolution, bullying prevention, and risk factors that might lead to early school leaving.

Opportunities should be provided for young people who have left education prematurely to return to mainstream education.

EU countries should also:


Council conclusions on reducing early school leaving and promoting success in school (OJ C 417, 15.12.2015, pp. 36–40)


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Tackling early school leaving: A key contribution to the Europe 2020 Agenda (COM(2011) 18 final of 31.1.2011)

Council Recommendation of 28 June 2011 on policies to reduce early school leaving (OJ C 191, 1.7.2011, pp. 1–6)

last update 06.04.2016