In part two of the analysis of why teenagers quit school early, The TES finds it is a growing international problem
About 60,000 young people leave school each year without any qualifications, usually before completing their compulsory education at 16.
Problems become most apparent at college, which has been comprehensive since 1975. With pupils from widely differing backgrounds and abilities, the system has had to adapt to respond to the diverse needs of all.
Moves to prevent pupils leaving ahead of time include help for slow learners and learning schemes.
Pupils "in difficulty" are defined as having at least two of the following: they have repeated one or two years at primary school; their tests reveal problems in French or maths; or they are below a certain standard after the first two coll ge years.
Those identified as having difficulties at the start of secondary school can take a remedial programme over three years, equivalent to the first two years of the standard curriculum.
Reforms introduced three years ago reinforce help for slow learners, including supervised homework sessions at school.The authorities recognise that school failure is often linked to social and family problems, such as unemployment, poverty and having parents who lack qualifications, are single or of foreign origin.
The government is now relaunching its educational priority zones (ZEPs), discriminating positively in favour of schools in deprived areas.