2nd Chance Coordination Brunswick City

Short summary

Abstract:

Students from Brunswick schools from year 5 on up to the end of compulsory schooling, who have been absent from school for more than 5 days without excuse, are involved in personal consultation and supported by individual activities. They learn to accept a day routine, learn to structure their day, learn to keep agreements and appointments and eventually start participating in society and school life again.

Participants:

The measure aims at students from Brunswick from school year 5 onwards until the end of obligatory schooling or until your first school graduation, e.g. the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE),mostly up to the age of 18/19 who have missed school more than 5 times without excuse.    

Main targets:

The main target is reintegration of these students into the school instruction and school life and their school graduation.

Activities:

The students are offered a range of activities to get them used to keeping agreements/appointments, regular participation in activities. They learn to work on a day structure/daily routine.

Justification:

There is a social mandate to reduce the number of receivers of social aid money/transfer payments. Unemployed persons, who often lack social integration, are more expensive for the state than any early investment in young persons‘ education.

Condition for participation:

Free will of all participants is the condition for this service being provided by the City of Brunswick.

 There are three Areas of youth welfare in the city of Brunswick closely working together:

The Coordination Office (Koordinierungsstelle, 5 full-time positions) is working with young students who skip school from year 5 on.

The Competence Agency (Kompetenzagentur, 5 full-time positions) is working with young persons and young adults during the transition from school to the beginning of work.

The Competence Agency Plus (Kompetenzagentur Plus, 2 full-time positions) is working with those persons who have not yet been reached by any help nor have applied for any social welfare, even though they could have. They are often homeless people.

Context of good practice

Braunschweig/Brunswick is a city with 250000 inhabitants, second largest city in Lower Saxony within the metrople-region Hannover-Braunschweig-Wolfsburg-Göttingen. Brunswick is a region with growing industry, and particularly successful in the science-sector.

 There are altogether 38 schools in Brunswick (6 primary schools, 3 secondary modern schools, 6 secondary schools, 10 high schools, 6 special schools, free Waldorf school, 6 vocational schools)

This permanent measure “2nd Chance” was established from a project with the same name. The measure is connected to youth welfare. The 2nd Chance is paid by the City of Brunswick.

Main characteristics of the challenge, description of the target group

The main problems are educational problems, this can range from a missing structure of the day/missing daily routine by responsible parents and carers, up to missing or unclear rules or limits, inconsequent behaviour by parents and carers, conflicts with peers mobbing. The result are often bad marks, fear of failure, drug consume, delinquent behaviour.

The main focus group are single students who have been absent from school five days without excuse. Cooperation has to start at school with students, parents and carers. Teachers are the main actors as well as the heads of schools.

Only if this is not enough, then the measure 2nd Chance starts with social workers of the Coordination Office 2nd Chance from the external side and the other social workers coordinated by them.

Conditions:

See “Leitfaden Schulabbruch” (German).

 After 5 days missing school without excuse, parents talk to teachers or teachers approach students and parents.

Only after a contact from the school has taken place and has not been successful, the “Coordination Office” is called or taken in (by way of a registration form) and finds out the responsible office to tackle the problem together with the student and her/his parents and carers (if wished for). 

Step by step:

  • The registration form is filled in by schools.
  • The registration form is sent to the Coordination Office.
  • the Coordination Office contacts other offices and official data for data verification (if student is already in care).
  • The first contact with the student is established (invitation or visit at school or at home, with the student alone or with her/his family).
  • The contents of the first conversation are questions for reasons of missing school/staying away from school.
  • The students give reasons and explains.
  • There is a common search for alternatives, and there are offers from the social worker she or he thinks are helpful for the student: activities that offer a daily routine and a fixed frame, that help to raise self-esteem or create feelings of success.

 

Description of the main activities & the pedagogical approach used 

  • Establishing of a daily routine/day stracture (with the help of activities like e.g. cooking, riding, self-defense, swimming, 1-2 times per week)
  • Parallel the 2nd Chance and the student work on reintegration in school, e.g. 2 hours and more.
  • Mobbing intervention programmes help the student to lose fear from school and school situations (student and teachers/ „no blame approach“ with three steps).
  • The measure is based on regular meetings with student.
  • IN special cases, transport service takes student to school (however, this is a limited service due to the fact that it can be easily understood or abused.)

 Useful competences of the problem solving staff / team to reach the main aim 

  • The social workers involved in this measure need knowledge and experience in client centred councelling, systemic councelling (including family, class, friends, peers). They all have university degree in social work.

 Timeframe of the implementation

One year is earmarked for the measure (altogether),it can be interrupted and taken up again.

Altogehter there are 12 Months to find out which strengths and gifts the students have, how they can start anew and support them with their start by making them find out and choose themselves.

 If there is no change or success after 12 Months with 2nd Chance, then there are other official services to contact: general welfare service, recommendations are given as to how continue, changes of school career or class might have some positive effect   There are also other alternatives like 9th-year-internship to fulfill compulsory schooling, after that changing to a vocational school where there are a number of programmes available.

Impact of measures taken

The main goal is reintegration into society and school life as well as later in the labour market. To reach this goal the students need to understand that they have some responsibility for their own lives. The main changes will be in the students’ attitude towards life and her/his own goals and chances. However, there will also be changes necessary in the attitudes of parents and carers, teachers or other students surrounding them. It will be very difficult to change something if the conditions stay all the same.

 When there are drug problems involved, the students have the possibility to interrupt for a therapy and then take up their work with 2nd Chance again.

Leassons learned

There must be the basic understanding of meeting students at eye level and take their problems seriously. There has to be close and good cooperation with parents and carers, whom social workers should motivate to not only focus on school but to also be ready to cooperate with their children in other areas and see what is positive and working well. Parents and carers need to be motivated to spend time  with their children on positive activities.

 Possible extensions:

  • Siehe auch die Abbildung im Leitfaden Schulabbruch (pdf).
  • welcome-culture at schools for students coming back from an absentism-period

Resources needed

In Brunswick:

  • 110.000 Euro per year for the coordination (5 full time posts)
  • 5 full time posts of social workers (open-ended contracts)
  • Staff cost operational ca. 250.000 Euro

Any other information

Data in 2016:

  • The 2nd Chance received altogether 215 registration forms from schools.
  • 33 (out of altogether 38) schools sent registration forms, on average the students had by then been absent from school already 22 days.
  • 115 “cases” fell under the responsibility of the 2nd Chance.
  • 138 initial interviews took place and 86 „cases“ were managed the full 12 months, 32 of them had to be sent on to other institutions.
  • There were 89 requests for counselling altogether.
  • 78 „cases” were finished, 20 of whom did not work out without success, 58 „cases“ were successfully carried through or sent on to other instituitions.
  • There were 257 requests for councelling on minor breaches of the law.

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Target group of good practice:

Other

Country:

Germany

Author:

Thomas Mallon

Institution:

Kompetenzagentur Braunschweig

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