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Implementing Policies and Networking


The most important activity of WP1 happens during year 1, as it is the most important moment to start up with the whole activity. Some relevant efforts must be implemented to build up a common and shared view on the themes and the methodologies that we are going to use for the three years, creating a sense of collective frame. That is why that personal contact could be facilitated in a big kick-off event, and then to define the basic issues for the whole project. It is scheduled this big kick-off meeting in Month 3 in Barcelona. It will also be important to design and upload those virtual instruments that must be useful for both internal and external communication. Then, a general website should be available by the end of the first semester. Finally, the network must finish the first year with a strong feeling of utility. This means that some products and outputs should have been finished by the end of the year: sharing knowledge activity and report on policy implementation. At the end of the year (month 11), another general meeting in Barcelona will be done in order to evaluate project development and plan next year.

Current activities

  • Vocational Education and Training to counter Social Exclusion – Stakeholder meeting report

    Vocational Education and Training to counter Social Exclusion – Stakeholder meeting report

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 10, 2013

    On Friday 22nd November 2013, the Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU hosted a SIRIUS stakeholderLogo Hessen meeting organised by MPG on vocational education and training to counter social exclusion.  This meeting gathered European, national and local stakeholders working in the field of migration and (vocational) education and training to exchange best practices and consider what policies could be implemented to improve the professional and social inclusion of young people with a migrant background across Europe today.

    Barriers to access and successful participation of VET

    1)      Language: This may be one of the main barriers to VET, especially for newly arrived migrants. However, according to research on school performance, language, together with school grades, are always controlled for and do not significantly influence access or successful participation for young migrants.

    2)      Aspirations: Immigrant parents wish for improved social upward mobility for their children meaning that they generally send them to university. In countries where VET is seen as a second choice, such as in Belgium, young immigrants are overrepresented.

    3)      Information deficit regarding VET opportunities: How to access VET? Why is it beneficial? Difficulties in finding answers to these questions, and a lack of contacts due to reduced social networks result in less people with an immigrant background applying for VET.

    4)      Discrimination: Although there is a lack of robust research on how discrimination affects education, there is information on how it affects the labour market. From this, we can deduce that it is likely to play a role in SMEs.

    5)      Structural factors: Deindustrialized areas with fewer jobs in general, are likely to have fewer apprenticeships available.

    Information exchange needs to take place to tackle information deficit and influence aspirational choices, for example through information campaigns, job orientation in schools, early internships targeted at migrants and mentoring projects that include parents. Tackling discrimination can be achieved by employing intermediary agencies to aid placement of apprentices, awareness campaigns, mentoring and anonymous applications.

    European instruments

    The Commission plans to tackle youth unemployment through education in particular. The European Alliance of Apprenticeships aims to aid the transfer of knowledge regarding apprenticeships, such as the identification and sharing of best practices. This is being carried out with the help of Eurochambers who are encouraging national chambers of commerce to partake in this initiative. The Alliance also promotes the benefits of apprenticeships in general and aims to change the mindset of people regarding VET. Stakeholders are being directly asked to make pledges on this issue on the Alliance website, and these will then be promoted through the Alliance.

    Additional instruments include:

    • Erasmus+ programme will focus more on apprenticeships – mobility in particular – with the objective of having 6% of VET students mobile by 2020.
    • Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans are currently being developed by Member States in order to set up the Youth Guarantee scheme which aims to offer a good-quality job, apprenticeship, traineeship or education to anyone under the age of 25. The Youth Employment Initiative has gathered €6billion to implement the Youth Guarantee.
    • The European Social Fund has a helpdesk which gives advice on how to use funding for apprenticeship schemes.

    The Commission thinks that it is important to bring more attention to the access barriers to apprenticeships currently facing young people with a migrant background. Public employment agencies need to diversify and consider immigrant NGOs and communities as partners. Business chambers need to represent all the self-employed, including migrant entrepreneurs.  Best practices should be gathered in order to give incentives to any countries not yet dealing with this issue.

    Examples of good practices given during the meeting include the following:

    Focus on migrant-run SMEs:

    Small migrant-run enterprises need to have someone going to them directly and encouraging them to offer apprenticeships. Chambers of Commerce are a good source of funding for this.

    • For example, the Chamber of Skilled Crafts Frankfurt-Rhein-Main runs a project wherein it contacts SMEs in Frankfurt, particularly migrant-run companies, in order to include them in the dual-training system that is so well-established in Germany. They visit each company individually in order to establish whether or not they have training positions available, and if not, they explain the benefits of offering apprenticeships, thus encouraging many to sign up. At the same time, parents are also informed of how the system works and the benefits of training in skilled craftsmanship.
    • Since 2007, the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, together with the Public Employment Service and the Vienna Employee Promotion Fund offer “Professional advice for ethnic economies”. There are over 100,000 companies in Vienna with active licenses, of which approximately one third are migrant companies. They are motivated to participate, get help training their staff and are supported in the creation of new and additional apprenticeships. Having native speakers (from a Turkish, ex-Yugoslavian or Polish background in particular) on the project team is very important in tackling the information deficit surrounding this issue, as well as utilising pre-established networks.

    Raise the appeal of VET:

    A positive spin needs to be given to VET, focusing on innovation and competitiveness.

    • The Emilia-Romagna region in Italy has reformed its dual education system since 2011. Due to the large amount of industry in the region, only 15% of students go to university, with the rest taking part in VET and industry directly. Schools and enterprises work closely together in order for students to see direct links between school and employment, and enterprise has played an important role in the reformation of the education system. The large migrant population in the region is appreciated for its language abilities and discrimination is rare in schools.
    • The Jobstarter KAUSA training coordination office for self-employed workers from a migrant background, run by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, aims to improve participation in VET and create additional training positions all around Germany. Currently there are a higher number of positions than candidates, and the matching programme sometimes has difficulties matching desired positions to actual offers. However, the expansion of KAUSA offices around Germany in 2014 should help. 2014 will also see regional Youth Fora taking place to promote VET and job opportunities to young people and their parents. The KAUSA Media Prize is a high-level campaign that awards young journalists who contribute to differentiated reporting on the various education and training paths of migrants in Germany.
    • European-Turkish Business Confederation – UNITEE aims to show new Europeans the advantages of VET. They tackle the stigmatization around VET and promote it as a positive option that allows young people to be more successful on the current labour market. VET needs to be made more alluring, and perhaps linking it to a job guarantee or entrepreneurships might be one way of doing this. They support the idea of entrepreneurship education in schools and the importance of cooperation with civil society, especially businesses.
    • OBESSU has launched a campaign entitledRaise your voice! Stand up for VET!’ in order to raise awareness of VET in Europe amongst students themselves.

    Vocational training as an integral part of vocational education:

    • In The Netherlands, although vocational training is a necessary requirement to finish vocational education, undocumented minors were not allowed to do apprenticeships as they did not have permission to work. Fischer Advocaten – Sociaal economische mensenrechten took this issue to court on behalf of a young person from Surinam in order for him to finish his education completely. Supported by Article 2 of the first protocol of the European convention, every child has a right to education, they won the case. Since May 2012, all undocumented students under the age of 18 are allowed to carry out work experience if it is part of their education. Undocumented migrants over the age of 18 however are still fighting for this right.

    Involve parents in schooling:

    • A Finnish member organisation of Confederation of Family Organisations in the EU focuses on practices that enhance school-home communication in order to best inform parents about the choices available to their children within the education system. Group leaders speaking different languages are trained to be able to inform other parents regarding schooling options.


    Apart from focussing on migrant SMEs, raising the appeal of VETs, facilitating training to undocumented migrants and including parents more in schooling, the following recommendations should be taken into account:

    • The link between stakeholders and practitioners should be strengthened. Civil society, including youth organisations and immigrant organisations, should be considered as strategic partners rather than being just policy targets. Both youth and immigrant organisations can offer extracurricular support activities that give young people experience. Peer to peer learning through mentoring should be supported.
    • Government, businesses, Chambers of Commerce etc. need to cooperate to find a solution for the mismatch of jobs and skills that increase youth unemployment.
    • Resident status constitutes another layer of discrimination which restricts undocumented migrants’ access to VET. This issue must be tackled.
    • Entrepreneurship education needs to be offered from an early age in schools. There are over 260 apprenticeship trades in Germany, for example, and yet everyone always applies to the same 5 or 6. Girls and boys need to be informed that all paths are opened to them, and their parents also need to be given information on VET options.
    • Local and regional authorities need to support migrant organisations and help highlight their positive contribution.
    • Further research needs to be carried out to facilitate statistics regarding the numbers of young children with a migrant background that transition into and drop out of VET.

    Adem Kumcu, President of UNITEE


    Oliver Diehl, German Federal Minstry of Education and Research



  • Promoting Multilingualism among immigrants – Stakeholder meeting report

    Promoting Multilingualism among immigrants – Stakeholder meeting report

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on October 31, 2013

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    On Friday, 27th September 2013, Migration Policy Group hosted a SIRIUS stakeholder meeting on the promotion of multilingualism among immigrants. This meeting gathered a number of European stakeholders dealing with migration, education and/or language competencies, as well as representatives of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture, to discuss recommendations 3 and 7 of the Language Rich Europe project.

    Download Summary, Programme, Participants

    Download Discussion Paper

    photoAfter an initial introduction to the Language Rich Europe project by Thomas Huddleston (Migration Policy Group), Guus Extra (Chair of Language and Minorities at Tilburg University) and Joe Sheils (Former Head of the Department of Language Education and Policy at the Council of Europe) provided very thought-provoking feedback to the questions posed in the discussion paper, peppered with examples of good practices that they have encountered over the years. This feedback, and the responses of the participants to the questions that were put to the group, can be summarized as follows.

    Going beyond the LRE recommendations, what are your more detailed policy recommendations for the Member States on what a language policy should look like? What should it cover and what should it not? And what should be the mechanisms to promote them?

    • Education systems should treat resources such as languages with respect by validating a plurilingual repertoire and having a diversity-oriented mindset. Any first language is a cognitive resource and can add to the successful learning of additional languages. The promotion of quality and inclusion in education means that the languages of immigrants need to be acknowledged and validated by the curriculum not only for their unique value as languages in their own right, but also in terms of their particular contribution to plurilingual and intercultural education more broadly. A curriculum that promotes the development of plurilingual and intercultural competence leads to the validation of plural identities and the plurilingual repertoires of all students, and supports them in extending their linguistic and cultural repertoires. This is important for motivation and effective learning, for developing language awareness and self-confidence in language learning, as well as for identity building.
    • A plurilingual policy acknowledges and validates the contribution of the languages of immigrants to the quality of educational processes. Their languages are seen as a key resource in a practical multilingual classroom approach to raising language awareness in a didactic approach that exploits and extends the existing plurilingual repertoires of learners.  Potential synergies and transversal links between languages can also be focused on in a more integrated, holistic approach to the curriculum. Languages are not kept in separate boxes but interact in learning and communication processes. Learners make transfers between languages and learn to exploit certain convergences and synergies. Rather than treating each language separately it is useful to explore the added value of a less compartmentalized, more coherent (and consequently more economical) curricular approach that enhances language awareness, reflection on languages and draws attention to transfer strategies across languages.
    • Schools should be allowed to provide languages on a needs-basis, and there should be connections linking formal and informal language learning opportunities, as future competences may also come from outside of the school environment.
    • Framework curricula could include immigrant languages, but would need additional teacher training on language diversity and the support of school leadership to put it into practice. The diversification of languages on offer could be based on parents’ choice and links to immigrant communities. Ideally, a whole school language policy would be implemented. Schools trained parents and conferred upon them the status of certified language teachers. Credit should also be given to students as it would encourage them and give status to the language.
    • Immigrants are not a homogeneous group, nor are their languages in terms of their presence or use. Policy strategies to include their languages in education need to take into account the specific context in each instance, bearing in mind the concrete social situation and the needs of the speakers. 

    How should the perceived tension between the languages of schooling and the languages of immigrants be addressed?

    • The place and role of the languages of immigrants in the curriculum is dependent to a large extent on how the school responds to the linguistic and cultural resources that immigrant learners bring with them to school.  Are the languages and cultures of immigrant students viewed as a potential barrier to learning (leading to a subtractive approach), or as valuable resources to be exploited and enriched in an additive approach to the curriculum? There may be a temptation to restrict the diversity of languages in the curriculum in the current difficult economic climate, and in the light of international assessment studies which have led to concerns about (reading) proficiency in the main language(s) of schooling. But this need not lead to ‘tension’ between the need to mastering this language and supporting the languages of immigrants.
    • Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) are language skills needed in social situations while Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) refers to formal academic learning or ‘subject literacy’. Many young people with a migrant background have good conversational language skills but receive less exposure to the ‘academic’ use of the language outside of school. This could be lessened through additional support of the official language in school, but their sense of achievement, identity and educational success could be improved if they were also taught their home language at school.
    • The negative attitude to immigrant languages needs to be tackled by putting positive emphasis on their languages. The repertoire of immigrants is dynamic and plurilingual – they have more than one language and the individual’s repertoire is being ‘rebalanced’ in school. Giving due recognition to their own language in teaching and learning processes can help to affirm their identity, and consequently their academic involvement. One good practice that was mentioned involved using libraries to raise awareness and empathy among children learning immigrant languages. This would hopefully make people aware that learning an immigrant language does not take away from learning other languages, rather the opposite.
    • The profitability of linguistic diversity of immigrant languages needs to be promoted.
    • World language centres should be created in order to play host to immigrant organisations which could hold Saturday schools and help in the certification of teachers, for example.

    Could networks, platforms or conventions be created for immigrant languages similar to the ones that exist for regional or minority languages? Where could the funding for such instruments come from?

    • The idea of a specific convention for the languages of immigrants (in education) is ambitious and not without challenges. We first have to consider the differences between an instrument aimed primarily at the promotion of linguistic diversity (eg the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages - RMLs) and one concerned directly with rights (e.g. Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities - FCNM). These two conventions are different but complementary in their approach. The language Charter’s key concern is with the languages per se and the protection and promotion of Europe’s linguistic and cultural diversity. It does not directly confer rights on individuals or specific groups but its ratification by a state then obliges it to make commitments to enact legislation and take positive steps to protect and promote RMLs (thus indirectly leading to rights). The language Charter addresses states and not the speakers of the languages concerned. It does not create a minority-majority dualism but views linguistic diversity as a cultural wealth for the benefit of all and everyone should be concerned (while the FCNM is concerned with ensuring non-discrimination of the minority by the majority). Both adopt a plurilingual approach whereby mastery of the state language is considered essential and the different languages are seen as reinforcing and complementing one another. Any proposals for a convention or similar are likely to lead to considerable and prolonged political debate and take quite some time to come into effect, if indeed they were eventually to become a reality.
    • While the language Charter provides a strong political and moral force for legitimising RMLs, perhaps the value and feasibility of other kinds of (non-binding) policy instruments or other targeted initiatives to enhance the status of the languages of immigrants in education could be investigated. One recent example is provided by the” Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education” (Adopted in the framework of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010) of the Committee of Ministers). This instrument sets out Objectives, Principles and Policies and proposes forms of evaluation and review of the strategies and policies states have undertaken with respect to the Charter. These include self-evaluation, shared evaluation with other member states and Council of Europe assistance where requested.
    • The “Platform of Resources for Plurilingual and Intercultural Education” of the Language Policy Unit of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg might provide some kind of template for the promotion of the languages of immigrants.
    • The 2012 Council of Europe Recommendation on ensuring quality education could also be interesting as a basis, but this does not deal with the issue of minorities and the issue of language would have to be further developed.
    • Nationals of Council of Europe countries have their rights supported in the European Social Charter with a guarantee of the rights of immigrants to language training /mother tongue teaching. The countries that have ratified the Charter can be seen here.
    • A Module, such as those that were already created for Migrant Integration, could be created that would offer a flexible framework, and if supported by funding, can be used according to the situation in any given country/region/school. It should be linked to the 1977 Council Directive on the education of the children of migrant workers, the Social Charter and the Council’s work on languages. This Module should:
      • Promote linguistic diversity for all
      • Reward an extensive range of language offers
      • Support the certification of teachers and student language knowledge
      • Create language centres of expertise
      • Encourage school autonomy to adapt the school offer to any given local situation
      • Include parents

    How should the plea for the teaching of immigrant languages be embedded in the EC’s plea for trilingualism for all European citizens?

    • Promoting plurilingualism among immigrants should be treated as a subset of the general push to promote trilingulism for all. Most would then study the official language of the country/region, another major language such as English and a language of personal adoption. The language of personal adoption can be seen as a positive choice in this light, and if schools are rewarded for allowing students to choose their language of personal choice based on their parents’ language, this would be supported within schools.
    • While it is important to help parents learn the official language, they should be encouraged to speak the language they know best with their children. Verbal communication of parents with young children presupposes high language skills. If parents speak the official language insufficiently, using the mother tongue in parent-child interaction has strong cognitive advantages, also in learning other languages.

    Do European Institutions need more recommendations on teaching the national language to immigrants?

    • A draft recommendation on the language of schooling developed by the Language Policy Unit of the Council of Europe is currently under discussion by the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe. This does not aim to deal specifically with immigrants as the issues addressed are relevant to all students.
    • There is a “Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (2008) on strengthening the integration of children of migrants and of immigrant background”. There are also a number of relevant recommendations and resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly and of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
    • Rather than more recommendations therefore, it could be worthwhile pushing for states to put these recommendations into action! Some European Member States may already work together in order to help the home language development of European citizens living in a new country eg. Slovaks supported by their government in Ireland. Flexible funding could be available for this type of effort.


    Good practices highlighted during the meeting include the following:

    • The Linguistic integration of Adult Migrants (LIAM) also offers a practical means of pooling and accessing resources.
    • The Victorian School of Languages in Melbourne is a government school that provides language programs for students who do not have access to the study of those languages in their mainstream schools. They are very accessible and students receive recognition for their language classes through credits. Funding is provided by the government and some parents contributions. Teachers are certified by the Department of Education.
    • The Czech School without Borders, London promotes education in, and understanding of Czech language, history and culture to Czech, English and other language communities in the UK and fundraise to provide the necessary environment and conditions for our activities.
    • Linguamón – House of Languages had a project that helped schools to raise the awareness of diversity in the classroom and enhanced the position of immigrant languages, thus making immigrants feel part of the wider school community.
    • Twitter Tongues was an initiative to map the languages used on Twitter in London over the summer of 2012. Another map highlights the most popular primary-language spoken in each area. These types of databases on diversity are a good tool to raise awareness of other languages.

    Upcoming events
    The European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) will be hosting an event on 11 December on Migration and Cultural Integration in Europe.

  • Educational Support to Newly Arrived Migrant Children – Stakeholder Meeting Report

    Educational Support to Newly Arrived Migrant Children – Stakeholder Meeting Report

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on September 18, 2013

    TransparentpnglogOn 13th September 2013, the Permanent Representation of Lithuania hosted a SIRIUS stakeholder meeting on the European Commission study on Educational Support for Newly Arrived Migrant Children (NAMS). Organised by the Migration Policy Group, this meeting gathered a number of migration and integration stakeholders, as well as representatives of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture, to discuss the findings of the study and debate the specific standards/benchmarks that could be used to put its recommendations into practice.

    Hanna Siarova of the Public Policy and Management Institute, Lithuania, one of the study’s authors, presented the central outcomes, and concluded that system design and universal support policies lead to a more comprehensive education system, which is the best solution for migrant education.

    The ensuing discussion dealt with a number of issues that are closely linked to SIRUS principles.

    Governance and mainstreaming

    • Long term reform of education policy need to be accompanied simultaneously by temporary policies that focus on specific issues.
    • School systems need to effectively serve all disadvantaged children, including the focus on newly arrived migrant children.
    • The political climate has to be favourable in order to develop policy changes that favour inclusion of all disadvantaged pupils. If the political will is not there, it will be difficult to implement any necessary changes.
    • The structure of the education system can lead to increased social segregation.
    • European support for migrant education should come through funding initiatives such as the European Social Fund or the European Integration Fund and be subject to certain conditions.
    • European discourse on migrant education is very positive, but implementation is often missing on the ground. How can the European institutions encourage improved implementation? Maybe by highlighting successful schools and supporting policy experimentation in a given country in order to raise awareness of successful education policies or encouraging each country to self-reflect on their policies and identify the policies they could share or improve upon.
    • Strict family reunification policies may adversely affect NAMS’ chances at a successful school education, as the older they are when they arrive, the harder it can be for them to adapt.

     General quality of the school system

    • Leadership within schools can be supported through specialised bodies, such as the national CASNA reception desk in Luxembourg, the CASNAV in France, and the ACIDI in Portugal. These bodies offer assessment of prior schooling and welcoming arrangements for NAMS which help newcomers to get the right level of schooling and often use intercultural mediators to build a bridge between the schools and the newly arrived families from the outset. They may also offer training to teachers who work in diverse classrooms.
    • Leadership in education and diversity is vital, and the Lithuanian Presidency focus on this issue was welcomed.

     Diversity in schools

     From a school to a community approach

    • An all-encompassing community approach is vital, as teachers, parents and the local community work together, inform each other, and develop strategies for inclusive schooling.
    • A good practice that increases parents’ participation in schools is to offer them language classes and other training through their children’s school. This offers them additional non-formal learning, and will help them to engage better with the local community.
    •  The SIRIUS European Practitioners Network on mentoring is a practical example of how to involve the migrant community in discussions of migrant education.

    Download the Discussion Paper

    Download the Presentation

    Download the Summary, programme and list of participants

  • National Round Tables

    By Alex on May 2, 2013

    The aim of the National Round Tables is to reflect and plan a good practice on policy implementation about the National situation about migrant education, with a special attention to the situation of early school leaving (ESL) within the population of children and youngsters from migrant background. ESL is the key topic for educational policies through the EU, and SIRIUS shares the mission of creating knowledge on ESL and migration with the EU bodies.

    The National Round Tables must also become an opportunity to make a formal presentation of SIRIUS to the main relevant actors on migrant education in the country. On the other hand, the National Round Tables must translate the SIRIUS original partnership to a National scale: a meeting point for policy makers, policy agents, researchers, professionals and civil society representatives.

Activity leaders