Danish schools lack rules to combat high absenteeism

One out of three educators say there is no plan to get more truant kids to come to school

One-third of headteachers in Danish schools say there are no guidelines in place for them to deal with excessive absenteeism.

In a survey conducted by Trygfonden and Børns Vilkår, a large percentage of 581 school leaders, child psychology specialists from Pædagogisk Psykologisk Rådgivning and others specialising in children’s education said they either have little or no guidance to get recalcitrant children back in school.

“Some of these children are allowed to set their own agenda – even when the absence rate is very high,” Børns Vilkår head Rasmus Kjeldahl told DR Nyheder.

“The teacher may not do anything, the school may not do anything, and the local social administration may not even be aware that the child is not going to school.”

“A huge gap”
Kjeldahl called the lack of clear guidelines concerning absenteeism “a huge gap in the security network we should have concerning vulnerable children”.

However, headteachers’ union boss Claus Hjortdal did not support the idea of establishing guidelines.

He said that individual municipalities, schools and headteachers already had an eye on their students, and that formal guidelines “establishing things you ‘must do’” would make little difference in day-to-day efforts.

READ MORE: Are the carefree children copying the truant teachers?

Hard to establish
Hjortdal said it was more important to understand the reason behind a high absence rate than establish a ‘one-size-fits-all’ guideline.

“It can be caused by anything from the mother being mentally-ill and suicidal, to the child being prevented from leaving home,” he said. “That makes it hard to establish guidelines.”