INSA was formed on March 16th of 2018, at the end of a week-long Lorentz Workshop. The workshop was titled ‘School Absenteeism – Universal Problem Seeks Gold Standard Solutions.’ Twenty-one academics and clinicians from eleven countries and five disciplines (education, psychology, psychiatry, social work, sociology) participated in the workshop which was held in Leiden, the Netherlands. We came together to pursue three objectives:
- To reach consensus on the operationalization and classification of school attendance problems. We saw the need for standardized definitions which would yield practical benefit for schools, communities, and policy-makers, as well as scientific benefit for researchers seeking to compare data across regions and countries.
- To identify best practices for the early identification of problematic absenteeism. We saw the need for protocols that would have practical benefits for schools, communities, and policy makers, as well as scientific benefit for researchers focused on the identification of school attendance problems.
- To establish an international group whose agenda is to better meet the needs of youth experiencing school attendance problems. We saw the need for greater inter-disciplinary discussion and efficiency in the evolution and evaluation of interventions. We proposed international conferences and special issues in international journals.
The need to hold such a workshop was identified by the workshop’s Scientific Organizers. They had collaborated on an article about school attendance problems and were keen to facilitate further discussion around issues raised in the article. Their collaboration on the article came about when Dr Brian Chu, Editor for the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, initiated the idea of a special issue on school attendance problems. This idea arose following a 2016 symposium on school attendance problems at the 8th World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies.
The founding members of INSA are: David Heyne (Netherlands), Carolyn Gentle-Genitty (USA), Malin Gren Landell (Sweden), Glenn Melvin (Australia),
Brian Chu (USA), Marie Gallé-Tessonneau (France), Kristin Gärtner (Norway), Carolina Gonzálvez (Spain), Trude Havik (Norway), Jo Magne Ingul (Norway),
Daniel Bach Johnsen (Denmark), Christopher Kearney (USA), Gil Keppens (Belgium), Martin Knollmann (Germany), Aaron Lyon (USA), Naoki Maeda (Japan),
Volker Reissner (Germany), Floor Sauter (Netherlands), Wendy Silverman (USA), Mikael Thastum (Denmark), and Bruce Tonge (Australia).
These 21 founding members worked hard during the week-long workshop to achieve the three objectives. Below you can see the group ‘hard at work’ as well as ‘taking time out’ to enjoy the social side of this important gathering.