Young people's perceptions and experiences of leaving high school early: An exploration
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science
Research suggests it is important for students to feel a sense of belonging to their school. Students who do not belong at school often attempt to satisfy this need through membership in antisocial groups, or they drop out from school altogether. The current study explored the perceptions and experiences of the school context held by young people who have left school early. Twelve young people aged 16–19 years were interviewed on their experiences of school and their wellbeing as a result of leaving school early. Constructionist grounded theory methodology formed the basis of the data analysis. The early leaving process was identified as having three phases; exclusion from school, the transition into workforce and the ‘now’ phase. The results identified factors in the school context that contributed to early student withdrawal. Furthermore, the research has implications for creating a ‘normative narrative’ (Rappaport, 2000) in relation to early school leavers.