In a recent report, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has demonstrated that teenagers who regularly eat their main meals with their parents are less likely to fall victim to every school's worst nightmare – truancy. Apparently, missing lessons can additionally have a huge impact on their test results. Considering the current debate about the term-time holidays in the UK, the subject further emphasizes the role of family life in education.
A Look Into Global Truancy Rates
The OECD study shows that a pleasant family life and engagement in school matters are far more likely to impact test results, than the economic situation of the family. The average of truancy cases in developed countries is 18%, with Latvia scoring highest and Japan showing lowest percentage of truants among their school children. The study shows considerable national differences in truancy rates, basing its findings on the proportions of pupils that were absent on lessons right before taking the Pisa test. Among the countries with the highest truancy rate were the aforementioned Latvia, Romania, Argentina and Greece. On the other hand, Asian countries like Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and the Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Shanghai scored lowest. In Europe, the lowest truancy rate was observed in the country of Luxembourg.
Absenteeism in the UK
As far as the UK is concerned, it is below the average for the percentage of pupil's truancy from individual lessons, but scores above average in missing whole days during the school term. This points again to the problem of holidays taken during the school term that we discuss in another article. When taking their children on a term-time vacation, parent might not even realize that a week of fun can impact the test results of their kids. Of course, the issue itself is highly controversial as preventing children from vacationing with their parents, who cannot afford their desired holidays during the summer's price boost, might have a negative impact on the family life, which OECD shows is crucial to the efficiency of children education.
The Value of Family Life in Education
According to OECD, in the case of truancy there is no clear boundary between the rich and poor. In more than three-quarters of the studied countries, it became evident that children who had meals with their parents were less likely to play truant. Good family life might then do the trick and enhance the education of our children. The link between truancy and bad grades is emphasized by England's Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss, who admitted that the recent policies undertaken by the English government to prevent children from missing whole school days is highly relevant to the present situation. “This analysis by OECD further underlines the very real consequences of missing school – and shows we are right to crack down on pupil absence from school,” she says.
Truancy Linked to Bad Grades
Truss also points out to the link between school absences and studying efficiency: “We already know that children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent”. In a recent article at the Telegraph, Graeme Paton, the paper's education editor, referred to the OECD study in the following: “Pupils who missed at least a day of school lagged the equivalent of more than a year behind their classmates in maths across the developed world.” As you can imagine, this could have a disastrous effect on the job prospects for the future generations, an aspect emphasized by the Education Minister as well: “Getting good maths grades helps young people get good jobs, means they earn more and provides the best protection against unemployment. This is why it is vital children attend as much school as possible.”
Truancy and the Education System
The researches who prepared the OECD report pointed out the negative relation of truancy to the overall performance of a country's education system. To this, they added the following: “Students who reported that they had skipped classes or days of school at least once in the two weeks prior to the [Pisa] test have lower scores than students who reported that they had not skipped classes or days of school.” If this still doesn't prove the value of school attendance, then we don''t know what can.
The OECD's practical study highlighted many important issues that the English government has to deal with in order to raise the overall performance level of its education system. It's worth to remember that the government has already introduced multiple reforms aimed at preventing truancy by tougher fines for parents that allow their children absences or more flexibility given to schools in choosing family-friendly term dates. All this has been proven as still not enough. The OECD report leaves us to see the future improvements made to the schooling system, which is after all one of the essential aspects of all developed societies.
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