Early school leaving is the result of a mix of individual, educational and socio-economic factors. Precisely for this reason dropout needs to be considered as a complex multisector phenomenon, due to many triggering effects interacting each other: not only school based factors such as disengagement, low achievement, transition between schools and school levels, but also factors related to the individual, family and social background. Even if it differs from country to country and from region to region, there are some recurrent features: children from vulnerable groups are more likely to leave the school system early. Boys are more affected than girls.
The project's leading idea is that, if the causes of school failure can be found in the pre-teen years, middle school becomes a critical “make or break” period and an important window of opportunity in order to reach those students showing signs of vulnerability. Thanks to the constant work and analysis on dropout preventive and intervention measures carried out by our partners, it was stressed the need to focus on a specific age framework in the range from 10 to 15 years, including both middle school and moment of transition between school levels.
For any school programme focused on the educational needs of all children, it is fundamental to develop an active partnership between school, family, society and local community. A first important step in building such cohesive vision is to provide institutions' leaders with the essential knowledge to gain successful school/community collaborations. A second step is the design and sharing of specific training modules and support multimedia tools to enhance school staff awareness and develop a whole school approach.