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New European Report by Dr. Paul Downes

The report, Early School Leaving Prevention and Engaging Parents from Ethnic Minority and Migrant Backgrounds: Key Issues and Guiding Principles Across 9 European City Municipalities by Dr Paul Downes has just been published

Click here to access this report

Paul Downes has recently completed three briefing papers for the Urbact PREVENT project working across 10 municipalities for early school leaving prevention and parental involvement:

Downes, P. (2015). Developing Multidisciplinary Teams for Early School Leaving Prevention. Briefing paper for 10 European city municipalities for the EU Urbact, PREVENT project. Published by EU Urbact Secretariat Paris and Nantes Municipality.

Downes, P. (2015). Targeting the needs of children and young people in a holistic way for early school leaving prevention. Briefing paper for 10 European city municipalities for the EU Urbact, PREVENT project. Published by EU Urbact Secretariat Paris and Nantes Municipality.

Downes, P. (2015). Building bridges for relational democratic school systems:  Fostering dialogue between key stakeholders, students, teachers and parents. Briefing paper for 10 European city municipalities for the EU Urbact, PREVENT project. Published by EU Urbact Secretariat Paris and Nantes Municipality.

These papers can be accessed here

New European report by Dr Paul Downes

The report, Towards a Differentiated, Holistic and Systemic Approach to Parental Involvement in Europe for Early School Leaving Prevention, by Dr Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, has just been published by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund, Urbact Programme, Paris.

The report is part of the Urbact, PREVENT project across 10 European cities led by Nantes Municipality.


The prevention of early school leaving (ESL) should be built on a comprehensive approach of the child, taking into account the family environment, the neighbourhood, and his/her life in and out of school. The role of parents is a key element to reduce the rate of ESL. How can one boost their confidence and provide them with tools and support in raising their children?


Please find below a search engine which will help you to find URBACT documents according to one or several criteria (type of document, subject, project, etc.). If no criterion is selected, the table will display all the documents in a chronological order.


During a PREVENT meeting in Antwerp in February 2014, Paul Downes introduced the concept of Structural indicators (SI's) in the PREVENT Project. Access an interview with him in Antwerp here

The joint paper, PREVENT’s core structural indicators across different system levels
– including municipality level and individual project level
 by Dr. Paul Downes, Thematic expert and Ulf Hägglund, Lead expert
 can be accessed here

PREVENT is a network of ten European cities that chose to gather around the question of early school leaving: an urgent and serious problem in Europe. More than 14% of the European Union’s young people leave the education system after completing, at the very best, the first cycle of secondary school. The fight against this phenomenon is one of Europe’s priorities.

The reasons why young people leave the education system prematurely are numerous and linked with individual background. The policies aimed at reducing this drop-out have to address the root causes. Among the solutions to struggle against this phenomenon, some researchers are pointing out the importance of the role of the parents in the prevention of early school leaving.

In accordance with this principle, PREVENT proposes an innovative approach where parents are considered as a key element to reduce early school drop-out.


• Considers as essential the role of the parents in preventing drop-out

• Advances the role of local authorities as facilitator of synergies and collaboration
between stakeholders.


PREVENT enables to:
• Exchange good practices between countries in order to learn from them at a
local level
• Build, at the level of each city partner, a local plan of action thanks to the work of
a support group gathering professionals, associations, parents and more widely
every stakeholders interested in the drop-out issue
• Communicate and share the information with a large audience targeting principally
local authorities who are not involved in the project.

To sum up, PREVENT‘s challenge is to conciliate a theoretical thought of quality with the implementation of concrete recommendations useful to each partner.

Paul Downes  is the Thematic Expert Advisor to the EU URBACT initiative, PREVENT project, led by European Minds and Nantes municipality for their 10 city research project on early school leaving and family support across cities in France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Sweden, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Czech Republic (2012-2014).

In June 2013, Paul Downes gave two presentations Potential structural indicators for a systemic approach to parental involvement for early school leaving prevention (June 6th) and Engaging parents from marginalised groups, including ethnic minorities: Outreach and system change for early school leaving prevention (June 7th)at the PREVENT URBACT project meeting in Gijon, Spain.



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URBACT is a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development. It enables cities to work together to develop solutions to major urban challenges, reaffirming the key role they play in facing increasingly complex societal challenges. It helps them to develop pragmatic solutions that are new and sustainable, and that integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions. It enables cities to share good practices and lessons learned with all professionals involved in urban policy throughout Europe. URBACT is 181 cities, 29 countries, and 5,000 active participants.

URBACT is co-financed by the ERDF Funds and the Member States.