With 62,500 inhabitants, Grünerløkka is Oslo's most populated district. It also has some of the highest social contrasts in the city. The district and The Norwegian Education Agency are experiencing a high drop-out rate between middle school and upper secondary school. But how can this complex issue be addressed? By building out services and offerings that can support at-risk youth.
Grünerløkka worked with Designit to make this happen. Through research, we found that the critical period going from middle to upper secondary school is where there is a missing element between the district and schools, and as such, a lot of drop-outs happen. Without completed upper secondary education, entering the job market can be more difficult, which can further cause people to fall between the cracks later in life. It also leads to 30 million NOK annually in social-economic costs.
The reasons for dropping out are many, they're complex, and there's no single root cause to point at and solve. The project's goal was to systematise and build on the existing services and offerings for young people at risk of dropping out, with a result that supports them towards graduating.
We worked with Bydel Grünerløkka to design initiatives aiding young people in this vulnerable phase using comprehensive visualisation, insights, collaborative creation, and user testing. The process helped us see the broader picture of this complex problem and strategise on more robust design solutions. Some key findings were the lack of a mandate to follow up with students in this period and the lack of collaborative structures between public institutions for the shift to occur. This became a key focus for the design work.
The Bridging Service is an offering at Grünerløkka's middle schools, where a bridging guide works closely with at-risk young people, parents and other relevant actors, such as teachers and advisors, to ensure they have all the necessary support to move to upper secondary school. They have a flexible role that goes beyond the school and are mandated to follow up with the at-risk youth from when they start their final grade. The offering’s aim is completion of the final grade of middle school, a safe transition and a good start in upper secondary school.
Young people tell us, "It's as if you've read my mind with this". The service meets real user needs and will ensure better collaboration between the district and schools to reduce drop-outs. From the fall of 2021, a pilot has been run at Sofienberg School to iterate around the solution and estimate its effect. We are proud to say that in the first year of its release, 100% of bridging service students successfully moved from middle secondary to upper secondary with the help of Grünerløkka's new service.