Back In Business


Learning outside school for school leavers

What if we take a new approach to lower secondary school-leavers, so that much more teaching is based outside the school buildings? Can a system with stronger links to companies and workplaces in Grades 8 and 9 help more pupils to participate actively in school while simultaneously preparing for further education and/or employment after they leave school?


It was this issue that the ROCKWOOL Foundation Interventions Unit investigated during the period 2016–21 through the Back In Business initiative that focused on young people approaching the end of their lower secondary education. In consultation with pupils, school principals, education counsellors and companies, we examined whether work experience as a key component of the last years of lower secondary school could lay the foundations for more young people to enjoy success in their education or on the labour market later in life.


Why a special initiative for lower secondary school-leavers?


With admission requirements for colleges and universities becoming more stringent, the final examination in lower secondary school has become more important than ever. In 2019, one in six Grade 9 pupils – or almost 7,000 high school pupils – failed to leave school with an examination result that provided access to further education [1]. It is therefore essential to find solutions that improve conditions for pupils to succeed in primary and secondary education and in their transition to life after school.



In the Back in Business initiative, we focused on pupils approaching school-leaving age who had become tired of school and might benefit from some experiences outside the school environment. We examined whether new experiences from an internship and robust experience communities with other young people can make a difference to pupils, such that they enjoy school more and become better equipped to succeed after leaving school. We also investigated whether, by involving the school teachers and management, we could deploy the initiative in schools with a view to improving the teaching they provide and enhancing the pupils’ participation in school. On this basis, the objective of Back In Business was to reinforce the pupils’ social well-being and academic learning so as to equip them better for further education or entry into the labour market after Grade 9.

What’s next?


The project was completed in 2021 under the auspices of the ROCKWOOL Foundation, and the insights live on in the ‘Lås Skolen Op’ (Unlock the school) project. Find our knowledge below.