Study Finds Link Between Truancy and Family Meals: According to new research from the OECD, young people who regularly eat meals with their parents are much less likely to be truants – i.e. miss parts of the school day or entire days. The findings suggest that having a positive relationship with school and family is a more important factor than being rich or poor in terms of influencing whether or not children skip lessons.
The report, which suggests that across developed countries almost one in five students (18%) play truant, also warned about the serious impact that missing lessons can have on test results. Latvia recorded the highest percentage of children who played truant with Japan the lowest. In the UK, young people were more likely than average to miss entire days of school, but were less likely than average to skip individual lessons once at school. However, comparing the figures internationally does reveal that truancy is a worse issue in the UK than in high performing education systems such as South Korea and Shanghai.
As noted above, there is no clear difference between the numbers of richer or poorer students who play truant. In fact, in some countries – including Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands – wealthier students were more likely to miss lessons. This led researchers to consider other factors which might influence truancy rates, and eventually to the link between family involvement and skipping school.
In more than three quarters of the states where data was available, children who had meals with their parents and families were less likely to be truants. The study also found links around good school discipline and teachers who listen to their pupils.
The results, based on the number of students who had played truant in the two weeks prior to the international Pisa tests, showed that on average 18% had missed a lesson and 15% had missed a whole school day. However, Latvia, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Argentina all recorded levels of truancy more than twice the average.
Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Hong Kong recorded the lowest proportion of truants internationally – with Luxembourg recording the lowest levels in Europe.
The study concluded that the overall performance of school systems can be undermined by high levels of truancy, and that the success of Asian systems is reinforced by their low levels of pupils who miss school.
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