Towards a more telling way of understanding early school leaving

Document Type

Journal Article


Australia's Institutes for Educational Research in NSW, SA & WA


Regional Professional Studies


Regional Professional Studies Deans Office




This article was originally published as: Hodgson, D. (2007). Towards a more telling way of understanding early school leaving. Issues in Educational Research, 17(1), 40-61. Original article available here


This paper is concerned with research into early school leaving. A narrative interview approach was used to document and analyse the experiences, processes and decisions that a small sample of boys made prior to leaving school, in this case, before completing year 10 and 11. Data collected in 2004 indicate that schools along with students co-construct the decisions and educational pathways that many students find themselves on, pathways which sometimes lead to withdrawal, disengagement, and, finally, leaving school. On the surface, it can appear as though early school leaving is an individualised and rational phenomenon, associated perhaps with easy-to-define events that precipitate the action of leaving school. This paper suggests that early school leaving has contradictory and institutionalised histories, and that 'winnowing' may be an apt metaphor to describe this process.

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