Human alarm clock programme finds success

Pilot project that gives kids with high absence rates a hand to get out the door to be expanded

Truancy at schools in Copenhagen’s Østerbro district has fallen noticeably after the city implemented a pilot project that sees a city employee give parents a hand getting their kids out the door each morning, Berlingske newspaper reports.

The employee, with the permission of the family, either rings to the student in the morning or calls on the house in person if the family is in need of extra help. In some cases, the employee escorts the child to school.

Some 25 families were included in the programme. A number of reasons for children's high truancy rates were identified, including mentally ill parents who were unable to take care of their children and parents whose jobs required them to leave before their children woke up. 

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After a year, the programme had resulted in a third of children with high truancy rates making it to school on time on a regular basis.

In addition, the programme helped seven children who did not attend school return to regular attendance.

Similar results have also been seen in other councils.

The pilot programme has been in place since 2012, and in January it will be expanded to other parts of Copenhagen.

Education experts cautioned against expecting that merely getting children to sit in a classroom each day would help them learn.