Second chance schools

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The European Association of Cities for Second Chance Schools was established in 1999 as an independent, non-profit organisation. The aim was to address employment and social problems experienced by young people throughout Europe who lacked the social skills and basic qualifications to access either higher education or employment ( In 2003 there were 28 schools in the European Association with more planned (Eason 2003). The schools are funded and moulded by local authorities, business partners and the students’ needs. Second Chance Schools are for students aged 16-24 years old who did not respond well to compulsory schooling and would like another chance to gain skills and qualifications ( This second opportunity is intended to ease the social exclusion of adults who did not benefit from normal education and obtain adequate qualifications to succeed in the job market. Second Chance Schools are situated in cities and are intended to help resolve the social problems associated with urban ‘ghettos’ through a second chance at education and training.

The curriculum is developed co-operatively between the school and local companies, to ensure that training and qualifications offered by the school meet the needs of the workplace and ease the path into employment. A Second Chance School’s curriculum will include mathematics and language skills, plus workplace behavioural skills such as group work and self respect. Students approach the Second Chance School directly or by being referred by a Social Worker or other professional. Students can enter a Second Chance School at any time of year and may take part in taster sessions before enrolling.

One example of a Second Chance School in the UK is the ‘East Leeds Family Learning Centre’, with 300 students aged 16-25 studying “Skills for Life” ( The school has 6 instructors (not ‘teachers’) and the students are ‘trainees’. Students select their courses and workshops, and may take such vocational courses as Hairdressing, Catering and Childcare, leading to nationally recognised qualifications, as well as Literacy, Numeracy and IT. Students’ progress is monitored through a supportive tutor programme. This school was one of nine opened in Europe in 1998. It has good links with local employers, such as Tesco and Fabergé. As written in an article about this school on the BBC Education website, “Second Chance works by treating people as adults and giving them close support to gain qualifications and move from benefit dependency into employment” (Eason, 2003

Another example is the planned ‘A4e Second Chance School’ in Sheffield ( The stated aims of this school are to help young people reintegrate into the learning environment, respect themselves and others, fit into society and undertake valuable and valued activities.


E2C Europe: European Association of Cities for Second Chance Schools (Visited 6-July-05)

Eason, Gary (2003) ‘Second Chance’ goes Mainstream, BBC News Online–Education. (Visited 6-July-05)

Second Chance Schools spread across Europe, CEDEFOP - European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Visited 6-July-05)

Useful Links

Eken: Second Chance Schools in Greece
Provides details of schools in Greece. (Visited 6-July-05)

Second Chance Schools in Spain
Provides details of each school in Spain. (Visited 6-July-05)