”Man är ju typ elev, fast på avstånd” : problematisk skolfrånvaro ur elevers, föräldrars och skolpersonals perspektiv

Sammanfattning: Aim: The aim of the thesis is to increase the knowledge of problematic school absenteeism by focusing on factors and processes contributing to this phenomenon in compulsory school, but also to identify what helps turningabsenteeism into increased school attendance. The thesis uses Kearney’s (2008a) definition of problematic school absenteeism: absences that adversely affect the student’s social and cognitive development, and mental wellbeing.Method: The thesis investigates problematic school absenteeism on the basis of in-depth interviews with 15 students aged between 16 and 25, 15 parents, and 11 school staff with long experience of working with students in this situation, thereby providing rich information on the complex phenomenon under study. The resulting narratives have been analysed using thematic content analysis.Theoretical framework: Drawing on Bronfenbrenner’s (1977, 1979a, 1986a) ecological systems theory of human development, the analytical framework is used to unveil the dynamic interaction between the student and his/herenvironment. In addition, the concept of alienation (Bronfenbrenner, 1986a; Hascher & Hadjar, 2018) is used to facilitate a deeper understanding of potentially important generator of unfavourable conditions in school, which byextension may have negative effects on the students’ ability to attend school.Major findings: Problematic school absenteeism in compulsory school is resulting from a range of factors at different levels interacting over a longer period of time. There is a need to distinguish between underlying, eliciting and maintaining factors. Shorter spells of truancy and absence related to illness may be early warning signs. Feelings of being different and lonely, harassment by peers, and difficulties to live up to the demands in school are commonly described as factors pushing the student away from school. Absence from school for a longer period of time in turn results in problems such as anxiety, depression, reduced social contacts and lagging behind in school-work that maintain and increase the difficulties to go back to school. The students, above all those with extensive and long-term absenteeism, usually need changes in the school environment if their attendance rates are to improve. Such ecological changes may be a question of teaching in an alternative learning environment, a change of school, or that significant others enter the student’s life and contribute to a manageable study situation. Such a conclusion is in contrast to research that one-sidedly points to measures aimed at changing the student’s patterns of thought and behaviour.