The theory-driven character of the proposed research, in combination with the methodologically sound research design, permits systematically hypothesis testing on assumed causal relations. The explanative character of the project is fostered by the combined use of quantitative (WP3) and qualitative (WP4) research methodologies, and by triangulation between various instruments within one type of research method. The new data collection in WP3 and WP4 will take place in the seven major research countries: Belgium, UK, Sweden, Portugal, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
Work Package 3 - Quantitative analysis of ESL
WP3 aims to:
- map and assess existing statistical evidence on early school leavers and NEETS in Europe by conducting a systematic review of official and secondary data-sources on different levels (eg. EUROSTAT, LFS, SILC, PISA, national level official statistics for each partner country, previous quantitative research studies at regional, national, international and comparative levels);
- identify more detailed demographic and socio-economic patterns of early school leavers and NEETS than those currently available within the published data sources, using the common definitions identified in WP1 and WP2;
- design a quantitative research instrument (survey A1 & A2) to identify risk factors of becoming an early school leaver and to explore the trajectories of young people, including variables like gender, age, ethnicity, country of birth, age of migration (if born abroad) and other proxies for class; school history (including grades, changes in schools attended, truancy); attitudes to school, education, career, family and peers; expectations, aspirations and plans for the future; factors which would encourage stay/ leaving education such as (academic) self-confidence, physical and emotional well-being and feelings of belonging, support, discrimination and respect;
- Survey A1 will be conducted in the schools, Survey A2 is a follow-up survey mainly conducted online. Yet, survey A2 will be accompanied by more traditional survey design methods through post and telephone to limit attrition as much as possible;
- identify the factors leading to ESL using quantitative research methods: piloting and conducting surveys A1 [spring 2014] & follow-up A2 [spring 2016]. A1 with a total of 14000 pupils (1000 per focus region) and survey A2 with a total of minimum 10500 respondents, taking into account an attrition of maximum 25%;
- By selecting an older grade group during survey A1 (alongside a younger cohort), the follow-up during A2 permits us to survey a cohort that has left school (early) at least one year before. These results will be analysed to identify not only reasons for leaving, but also to gain insights into the trajectories of ESLers after they left education, including questioning if and why they would contemplate going back to education/training.
- In order to determine to which extent school staff are receptive towards (EU) policy to reduce early school leaving, an online survey will be developed and administered [Spring, 2015] in WP3. Per country approx. 100 staff members (an overall total of 700 administrators and teachers) will be questioned by online ‘survey B’ about their resistance towards or support for policies concerning early school leaving, along with validated scales on school leadership, staff and pupil relations, teacher motivation and working conditions. Data on 100 staff members per country will allow us to assess both individual and (some) school level characteristics in multi-level analyses.
Work Package 4 - Qualitative analysis of ESL & evaluation of ESL measure
WP4 aims to  gain in-depth insight in the different mechanisms and processes on an individual and institutional level that lead the pupils’ decision of ESL, studying in-depth the interplay between psychosocial, social and protective causes leading to ESL by adopting an emic perspective to complement the statistical knowledge on ESL in WP3. To this end, informants will be interviewed on
- the mechanisms and processes that lead or prevent them to leave school or training early;
- the strategies developed by pupils and significant others to deal with the issues related to early school leaving;
- the participation in intra-muros and extra-muros measures and the perceived impact of and preference for measures to tackle ESL;
- the notion to return to school or to opt for neither of the previous;
- the support the focus pupils receive from their family, peers and significant others in their communities;
- the protective and risk factors related to early school leaving;
- their perceptions on ESL and those of their family, peers and significant others on the ESL;
- their trajectories and experiences after ESL.
WP4 also aims to  gain insight in and assess school policies on ESL (intra-muros good practices) and understand the schools’ openness to the EU and national policies on ESL, contributing to the description of good practices of education and training in WP5. The composition and impact of the intra-muros measures on ESL will be analysed, taking into account:
- the perceptions of the school staff on ESL and the existing needs for support;
- the openness of the schools to the policies on ESL drafted by the respective national (or regional) governments and the EU;
- exploring why the particular measure is chosen for/by the pupils;
- what factors contribute to the success and failure (context, organization, target group …).
WP4 finally aims to  identify and assess extra-muros good practices to tackle ESL, that is, preventing against or compensating for ESL outside of the school, contributing to the description of good practices of education and training in WP5. The composition and impact of the extra-muros measures on ESL will be analysed, taking into account why a particular measure is chosen, how the measures are organized and what factors contribute to the success and failure (context, organization, target group …).