Early school leaving is caused by a variety of complex causes including individual characteristics, family background or socio-economic reasons. Research shows that early dropout is often preceded by clearly exhibited behavioural patterns. These distress signals, or early warning signs can be the first indications of any student being disengaged, uninterested or unmotivated in learning, thus, that individual may be at higher risk of leaving education early. Other signs may include absenteeism, isolation, boredom, aggression, low achievement or grade/year repetition.
The early recognition of distress signals can give a chance to the relevant stakeholders to provide the appropriate support for the student in time. Early warning system is a broad term for all the actions and programs that aim to identify early distress signals and to provide timely intervention to tackle early leaving from education. The early warning signs have to be identified considering the specificities of the broader environment where the given school is located.