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Migrant Education News and Articles

Resources on migrant education curated by the SIRIUS team

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  • SIRIUS Policy Briefs: Recommendations for successful policies on migrant education

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 12, 2014
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    SIRIUS

    While many countries in Europe have high-quality, well-established education systems, socio-economically disadvantaged communities across the continent suffer from inequality of access and lower-quality education. Children from these groups, including children with a migrant background—those who are immigrants themselves or have immigrant parents—tend to underperform in the classroom compared with their native peers. Children from a migrant background (defined here as from countries outside the European Union) have particular educational needs that mainstream education policy does not always meet, including overcoming language barriers and discrimination. Recognizing the importance of education in allowing countries to realize their potential, the European Commission has developed a series of goals in the form of the Education and Training Strategy (ET 2020) to help Member States reduce school dropout and increase rates of tertiary education completion.

    In 2011, the European Commission launched the SIRIUS Policy Network on the Education of Children and Youngsters with a Migrant Background to study and propose ways that EU countries can address the needs of disadvantaged groups while working to meet the goals outlined in ET 2020. The network facilitates the ability of experts, policymakers, and practitioners to gather and share policy ideas and practices to improve outcomes for these children.

    This series of policy papers produced by experts from within the SIRIUS Network in collaboration with MPI Europe focuses on how policies at the EU level and within individual Member States can better support the education outcomes of young people with a migrant background.

    Enhancing EU Education Policy: Building a Framework to Help Young People of Migrant Background Succeed

    coverthumb-SIRIUS-Overview

    This policy brief sketches how children with a migrant background face the most urgent needs in Europe’s education systems. The overall rate for early school leaving is 33 percent for third-country nationals—more than double the overall 14.1 percent rate within the European Union, for example. Rates of youth unemployment and young people “Not in Education, Employment or Training” (NEET) are significantly higher for first- and second-generation migrants than for their native peers in most EU Member States. The brief examines a number of proposals for ways that local, national, and regional institutions can help educational systems become more community-centered, systemic, and inclusive in order to close the school achievement gap between native and immigrant students.

    The thematically focused SIRIUS Newsletter on different aspects of enhancing education policy is available here.

    Mentoring: What Can Support Projects Achieve That Schools Cannot?

    coverthumb-SIRIUS-mentoring

    This policy brief explores how European policymakers can design mentoring and other educational support projects to be an integral part of the educational landscape, and explains why it is important for them to do so. It highlights examples of successful mentoring experiences that focus on cultivating the hidden talents and potential of children of immigrants, countering prevailing narratives about these children possessing an educational deficit and needing to “catch up” in school. Finally, the brief summarizes current research on the benefits of mentoring and offers recommendations for program development and for policymakers at the EU level.

    The thematically focused SIRIUS Newsletter on different aspects of mentoring is available here.

    Developing School Capacity for Diversity

    schoolcapacity_policybrief

    This policy brief uses the concept of professional capacity to frame SIRIUS’s recommendations regarding school quality. It identifies four key areas for improvement: language diversity, the learning environment, social psychology and acculturation, and community connections. To develop expertise in these areas, the brief outlines three strategies for policymakers:

    - build professional learning communities that focus on diversity;

    - build networks of expertise on diversity;

                               - and develop teacher training programs dedicated to diversity.

    The thematically focused SIRIUS Newsletter on different aspects of capacity building is available here.

    Language Support for Youth with a Migrant Background: Policies that Effectively Promote Inclusion

    coverthumb-SIRIUS-Language_Support

    This policy brief provides key points and good practice examples on what comprehensive language support might look like. Recent  studies have identified a number of tools and approaches that can provide effective language support for migrant children, including adequate initial assessment of language skills, language induction programmes that ensure a smooth transition into mainstream classrooms, ongoing language support, training for teachers of all subjects, and valuing students’ mother tongue. Despite these suggestions, there is no blueprint for what ideal language support might look like, and many European Union (EU) Member States are facing gaps in implementation of best practices.

    The thematically focused SIRIUS Newsletter on different aspects of language support is available here.

    Migrant education and community inclusion

    Migrant education and community inclusion

    This policy brief reviews current measures to promote the integration of migrant students around Europe, specifically those policies and government-backed projects that include the family and community as an integral part of the educational process. The brief will focus on seven examples of good practices that might serve as an inspiration for education policies across the continent. 

    The thematically focused SIRIUS Policy Brief is available here.

    Reducing the risk that youth with a migrant background in Europe will leave school early

     Reducing the risk that youth with a migrant background in Europe will leave school early

    Even as the European Union (EU) in general moves closer to the EU 2020 target of reducing early school leaving (ESL) to a 10 percent threshold, wide disparities remain. Varied rates of progress can be seen not only across Member States and media, but also among social and ethnic groups within the 28 Member States. With the exception of the United Kingdom and Portugal, youth with an immigrant background are over represented among those who leave school early. Migrant youth therefore remain a target group for EU policy recommendations regarding strategies, policies, and measures to reduce ESL.

    In this policy brief the authors focus on empirical findings, theoretical insights, and promising measures that may inform further policy action addressing the disproportionately high level of ESL among youth with a migrant background. The following three questions structure the content of this brief:

    1/ What can be learned from empirical research on ESL among migrant youth?

    2/ What features of national and regional education system can prevent ESL among migrant youth?

    3/ What specific settings are promising for the implementation of measures to prevent, intervene in, and compensate for ESL among migrant youth? 

    The thematically focused SIRIUS Policy Brief is available here

    Refugee children in education in Europe. How to prevent a lost generation?

    Refugee children in education in Europe - how to prevent a lost generation

    In the policy brief we will show what refugee children need to be successful in school. We identified six major school arrangements that affect school success.

    1. Free of costs pre-school places for the youngest refugee children to start to learn the second language early.
    2. Sustained second language programs should be available from pre-school until upper-secondary school to accommodate children from all age groups. Teachers should get up-to-date second language teacher training and especially developed materials and methods.
    3. For 16+ and 18+ students: Education should be available also after compulsory schooling (for instance adult education) if we want to prevent a lost generation. Stopping or only providing limited access to education beyond compulsory schooling is highly disruptive.
    4. Short introductory classes, after which students are immersed into regular classes. Being placed for one or two years in welcome classes or international classes is detrimental to school success. Introductory classes should be connected to all secondary school levels (not just vocational education).
    5. Additional support teachers should be assigned to follow up on children’s needs.
    6. Direct access to English Master programs for students holding a BA, comparable to international students.

    An integrated approach is key, where these arrangements are linked together (See also the recommendations of European Commission Report: Study for educational support for newly arrived migrants, PPMI 2013). For example, short introductory programs can only be successful when combined with sustained second language support.

    This policy brief is mainly focused on education measures, however other policies and factors that have an impact on the education chances and outcomes of refugee children and youngsters.

    The thematically focused SIRIUS Policy Brief is available here.

    School Leaders – Advocates for Refugee and Migrants Students

    School leaders

    SIRIUS Policy Network on Migrant Education has since 2012 debated and researched policy priorities for migrant education and inclusion. Although its research did not specifically zoom in on the roles and responsibilities of the School leaders in this regards, the SIRIUS Agenda for Migrant Education in Europe (2014) outlines specific recommendations regarding the school leaders. The further exploration within the network and its experts and consultation with relevant other stakeholders from European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL) shines more light on the key roles school leaders have in implementing migrant and refugee education policy. With this Policy Brief SIRIUS attempts to highlight the school leaders as advocates for refugee and migrant students, agents of inclusiveness and social justice and focus on the role of school leaders in the implementation of refugee and migrant education policy as well as provide policy makers with recommendations on how to best support school leaders.

    The thematically focused SIRIUS Policy Brief is available here.

     

     

    Regional Policy Paper

    Migrant Education Opportunities in the Baltic States: strong dependence on the level of school preparedness

    Baltic states policy paperThe purpose of this policy paper is to explore the national policy measures related to pupils with a migrant background in the three Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The paper aims to identify similarities of policy responses to specific educational needs related to migrant background and point out the differences in approaches, bringing forward the examples of successful practice. The paper serves as an overview of the topic in the Baltic region, which aims to enable mutual learning and inspire the development of most effective strategies in order to shape education policies towards greater inclusiveness to respond to the diverse needs of the learners.

  • European Education, Training and Youth Forum 2014 Report

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 1, 2014
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    ETYF 2014The third edition of the European Education, Training and Youth (ETY) Forum took place in Brussels on 9th and 10th of October 2014. The theme of the Forum was Future priorities of the ET2020 Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training and Synergies with Youth Policy. The event hosted forward looking discussions to identify key priority areas for policy cooperation as part of the review of the Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020). It gathered more than 350 participants representing different types of stakeholders and organisations active in education, training and youth.

    Key messages from the Forum

    The value of the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020) as an integrated framework: Forum participants underlined the great value of having a holistic strategic framework covering education and training in all contexts, sectors and dimensions. Participants advocated strong links between the education and training sectors, and between youth work and employment. They also argued for an increased cooperation between the various stakeholders.

    A holistic approach is crucial for building a bridge between education, training, youth work and the labour market, and for increasing dialogue among stakeholders. This approach implies collaboration involving formal, non-formal and informal education and training, the education and youth sectors, different levels of education, different Commission services and different Ministries at national level. Several stakeholders acknowledged the value of existing EU tools, cross-policy synergies and multiprofessional cooperation, but also emphasized the need to improve the cooperation framework, by promoting networking, cross-sector collaboration and cooperative learning opportunities.

    Remaining challenges

    In the context of ET2020, the following main challenges are still outstanding:

    • Employability and transition between education and the labour market,
    • The social dimension of education and training, for example the provision of equal access to education and training opportunities for all, and the provision of civic competences against the background of growing mistrust of the EU – especially among young people – and of rising extremism,
    • Supporting low-achievers in gaining basic and transversal skills and combating early school leaving more effectively,
    • Diversifying and professionalising the teaching profession and finding solutions to cope with the increasing diversity in the classroom/learning environment.

    Issues neglected during the past ET2020 work cycle

    The areas perceived as having been neglected during the past ET2020 work cycle include:

    • The social and equity dimension of education and training, the civic objectives of learning, and the consideration of countries’ socio-economic situations when designing education and training policies,
    • Cross-sector cooperation and partnerships between all types of stakeholders,
    • Recognition of non-formal and informal skills, competences and learning outcomes,
    • The use of technology in education, in particular ICT,
    • The investment in and support to entrepreneurship education,
    • The attractiveness of and support to the teaching profession.

    Priorities for the next ET2020 work cycle

    The next ET 2020 work cycle should focus on the following priorities and expected outcomes:

    • Developing a holistic approach linking education, training, youth work and employment, and increasing cross-sector cooperation between stakeholders,
    • Strengthening the social dimension of education and training and delivering on the strategic objective ‘Promote equity, social cohesion and active citizenship’ of ET2020. This also means promoting learning interventions for those not in 2 employment and enhancing the recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning outcomes, especially for low-qualified youth/adults and marginalised groups,
    • Providing additional support, especially from national authorities, to ensure the professionalization of teachers (e.g. pedagogical and digital skills),
    • Encouraging the transnational mobility of learners and educators,
    • Supporting entrepreneurship education at all levels (starting at primary school level),
    • Improving learning outcomes relative to resources used (efficiency).

    ET2020 working methods/governance

    The Forum participants confirmed the importance of ET2020 for mutual learning through peer learning activities and sharing of best practices. They also recognised the key role played by the European Commission in promoting these activities.

    On the other hand, participants emphasised the need to improve the ET2020 governance and working methods by:

    • Focussing on a limited number of priorities and on implementation, in the sectors where the EU can add value,
    • Developing a more systematic approach to enhance peer learning; setting up platforms to learn, exchange ideas and share good practice examples,
    • Communicating results and disseminating successful policies and best practices more effectively – at both national and EU level – using clearer language to allow key messages to reach a wider audience.

    Stakeholder involvement

    The key messages related to stakeholder involvement can be divided in two groups. On the one hand, the Forum participants advocated a better involvement of the stakeholders in the ET 2020 governance process and working methods, including suggestions for:

    • Involving different actors in the next ET2020 work cycle – notably parents and families, youth organisations, companies and the self-employed, and social partners,
    • Widening the range of stakeholder groups involved in ET2020 debates, for example by enhancing collaboration with representatives from informal and non-formal education, training and youth work,
    • Consulting educators on what they want to achieve and how.

    On the other hand, the participants suggested a number of substantive ET2020 policy priorities concerning stakeholders, including:

    • Promoting cooperation mechanisms and increasing synergies across policies and between stakeholders from the variety of formal, informal and non-formal sectors,
    • Developing a community-based approach to education and the delivery of integrated services, and support to adult participation. This may involve reinforcing the links between schools and families to assist disadvantaged parents in helping their children to succeed,
    • Promoting active citizenship to support learners’ commitment in society.

    Workshops took place on the following topics, and gathered stakeholders’ key policy proposals and processes and synergies:

    1. Promoting excellence and innovation
    2. Tackling the low-skills gap
    3. Supporting a new generation of educators
    4. Recognising and valuing skills and competences
    5. Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship

    European Education, Training and Youth Forum 2014 webpage

    DG EAC Education, Training and Youth Forum 2014 event page (including video)

  • Early leaving from education and training challenges individuals and our societies

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 1, 2014
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    tackling ELTime spent in education today is an investment for tomorrow says a new joint Eurydice/Cedefop report published at the end of November 2014. The report, entitled “Tackling Early Leaving from Education and Training in Europe. Strategies, Policies and Measures” monitors developments across Europe and confirms that early leaving represents a complex challenge at individual, national and European levels.

    In the vast majority of European countries the rate of early leavers has decreased over the last years, and EU countries are collectively heading towards reaching the benchmark goal by 2020 if the current trend continues.

    However, early leaving from education and training is still a serious challenge for individuals and societies as young people who leave education without a labour market relevant qualification are often both socially and economically disadvantaged compared to those who stay on and gain the necessary competences to help them succeed in life. This is analysed in a Eurydice/Cedefop report carried out for the European Commission and published on 20 November 2014.

    The report shows that in the EU-28, on average, 19.7% of young people with lower secondary education at most, are in employment, compared to 42.7% of young people who have gained an upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary qualification and 54.6% of tertiary graduates.

    The  report sheds light on early leaving from education and training – a serious challenge in many EU countries. The report aims to add value to Member States’ individual efforts as well as to the European Commission’s endeavours in this area by monitoring developments in the design and implementation of strategies, policies and measures to combat early leaving and support student learning.

    Factors contributing to early leaving

    Leaving education and training early is a complex issue and the causes vary from student to student. The second chapter of the report shows that family and/or migrant background, gender and socio economic circumstances as well as factors related to the education and training system are only some of the elements implicated to a greater or lesser extent in the process leading students to leave education and training early.

    Statistically, students who are born abroad, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and males are more prone to early leaving than other groups. As far as gender is concerned, the figures show that boys are over-represented amongst early leavers in general education. However, the higher the socio-economic status of students, the less apparent is the difference in the rates of early leaving between the genders.

    Statistics also show that foreign-born students are more likely to leave education and training early. Indeed, students with a migrant background generally face greater challenges in accessing and participating in education than those born in the country of residence. This can be due to language and/or cultural barriers, socio-economic segregation, limited access to sufficient learning support, etc. However, it is important to keep in mind that data on migrant populations inherently have their limitations. Data on foreign-born early leavers supplied to Eurostat by the national statistical authorities have low reliability for twelve countries, and for eleven other countries the most recent data is not available because of a very small sample size. Therefore, the numbers of foreign-born early leavers are inaccurate in these countries, and this is without even mentioning non-registered/irregular migration, which is impossible to account for. Finally, there are no comparable data available for second generation migrants at EU level.

    As shown by this report, coming from a migrant/minority background or being a male should not be seen as defining factors with respect to early leaving. The socio-economic situation of students appears to exert the stronger influence on the probability of leaving education and training early than other factors. Difficult family situations such as unemployment, low household income and low levels of parental education, can have a direct and lasting effect on students’ school career, their attitudes
    towards learning, their educational achievement; and this can consequently lead to their decision to leave education and training early. This is also one of the main reasons why cross-government and cross-sector cooperation to ensure the coordination of the different services supporting the multiple needs of disadvantaged families is so crucial (see Chapter 4).

    A number of factors relating to the education system that influence early leaving rates have also been discussed in chapter 2. The negative aspects include grade retention, the socio-economic segregation of schools and early tracking based on academic selection. However, there are also positive factors that can lower the risk of early leaving, such as participation in high quality early childhood education and care and well-managed transition processes from primary to secondary level, and lower to upper
    secondary level, and from school to work. Flexible pathways in upper secondary education can also have a positive effect in preventing or reducing early leaving. Finally, factors such as local labour market conditions can act as ‘pull’ or ‘push’ factors in the early leaving process, which highlights the complex relationship of the early leaving phenomenon with employment. It also underlines the important role of education and career guidance in supporting students to make appropriate choices for themselves (see Chapter 5).

    Via European Commission – Education and Training 

  • Draft outcome of proceedings from the European Ministerial Conference on Integration (Milan, 5-6 November 2014)

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 1, 2014
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    On 5 and 6 of November 2014 the Italian Presidency organized a Ministerial Conference on Integration, with the aim to further develop the Strategic Guidelines concerning the area of Freedom, Security and Justice adopted by the European Council in June 2014. The discussion built upon the Common Basic Principles adopted on 19 November 2004, the informal meeting of EU Integration Ministers of Zaragoza of 15-16 April 2010, the following Council Conclusions on Integration adopted on 3-4 June 2010, and the Council Conclusions adopted on 5 and 6 June 2014.

    In this context delegations agreed on the need to explore the key aspects of integration, focusing on the different levels of governance at which the integration process unfolds and on the interconnections that exist between integration and related policy fields. The following aspects, linked to education, should be taken into consideration:

    I. Addressing integration through a comprehensive approach

    The Council Conclusions on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU of 5 and 6 June 2014 recognized the importance of a comprehensive approach to integration and of mainstreaming policies and practices in all relevant policy sectors and levels of government. The Conclusions further specified that such an approach to integration presupposes inter alia effective reception policies and measures responding to the specific needs of both individuals and different groups of migrants, which are more likely to be exposed to social exclusion, including beneficiaries of international protection.

    II. Non-discrimination

    The 2005 Common Agenda for Integration indicated several measures to favour migrants’ access to the labour market, including innovative approaches to prevent labour market discrimination, training courses, exploring additional ways of recognising newcomers’ qualifications and facilitated conditions for accessing the labour market for women. Efforts in this field should continue to be a priority for European States not only because non-discrimination is a fundamental principle of EU law but also because, as recognized by the EU 2020 strategy, increasing migrants’ access to the labour market is crucial to achieve sustainable economic growth in Europe.

    Non-discrimination plays a central role also regarding migrants’ access to education. The common basic principle number 5 states that efforts in education are critical to preparing immigrants, and particularly their descendants, to be more successful and more active participants in society. To this regard, the Council Conclusions of  November 2009 on the education of children with a migrant background invited  Member States to set up or strengthen anti-discrimination mechanisms, increasing the permeability of pathways within school systems and removing barriers to individual progression through the system, in order to combat segregation and contribute to higher achievement levels for migrant learners. Children with a migrant background should be provided with targeted support in order to fill the gap in education results that still exists between them and children belonging to the native population.

    III. Mainstreaming of integration policies

    As shown by initiatives undertaken in several countries, mainstreamed policies present numerous advantages. First of all, they allow responding to the needs of heterogeneous and increasing diverse societies, pushing towards a diffuse sensibility to diversity that contrasts discrimination and stereotypes. Secondly, they allow better coping with the rising number of second- and third-generation immigrants, who may face structural barriers to succeeding in education or on the labour market. Finally, if properly managed, mainstreaming of integration priorities also allows designing policies that are both cost-effective and capable of improving outcomes for the society as a whole, thus maximizing the impact of public resources.

    IV. Monitoring of integration policies

    The common basic principle number 11 states that developing clear goals, indicators and evaluation mechanisms is necessary to adjust policy, evaluate progress on integration and to make the exchange of information more effective. Following the priorities set by the Potsdam ministerial conference in May 2007 and reaffirmed by the Vichy Ministerial conference in November 2008, the ministerial conference held in Zaragoza in 2010 identified Common European “indicators” in four areas of relevance for integration: employment, education, social inclusion and active citizenship. Stressing the importance of such indicators, the Commission stated in its 2011 European Agenda for Integration the intention to monitor developments in this field and formulate recommendations, in dialogue with the Member States.

    Read the draft outcome of proceedings from the European Ministerial Conference on Integration (Milan, 5-6 November 2014) via Italian Presidency webpage

  • Study on the effective use of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in preventing early school leaving (ESL)

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 1, 2014
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    ECEC_ESLThe Study on the effective use of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in preventing early school leaving (ESL), contracted to the Public Policy and Management Institute (Lithuania) by the European Commission’s DG Education and Training, aimed to collect evidence on how equitable and high-quality early child education and care can influence the performance of children in the subsequent stages of education and possibly contribute to the prevention of early school leaving. In order to achieve this, the following steps were undertaken:

    • The research review stage focused on synthesising the already existing evidence on the links between quality of ECEC and children’s learning progress. This allowed major gaps in existing research to be identified and directions for future studies to be provided. The synthesis included an overview of literature and policy documents in the languages of 34 European countries.
    • The policy mapping stage helped to update policy information available from the previous studies and to make an assessment on the quality of ECEC and on the balance and continuity between the earliest and the later stages in education in the analysed European countries. It also helped in selecting the countries for case study analysis, taking into consideration the principles of diversity and representativeness.
    • The case study analysis was carried out in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden and the UK. The case studies analysed the influence of ECEC policies on the learning of children in a particular country context. They complemented country-specific evidence collected during the research review stage and tried to assess how declared national policies are implemented in practice.
    • The synthesis of the research review, case studies and policy mapping reports helped to revisit the role of early childhood education and care in children’s development in a new light by bringing together the research findings from different levels of education, different disciplines, and different country contexts in this report and identifying the areas that need to be considered in further research

    Key findings

    • The study demonstrates the impact of non-cognitive and meta-cognitive skills, besides cognitive ones, for setting the foundation for subsequent learning. Using the capabilities approach – mainly used in social policy – the study highlights two essential characteristics of the education systems: whether learners are able to convert their abilities/competences into capabilities and whether – at the same time – education systems provide opportunities for this process (i.e., if learners are able to use their abilities at their own choice and if education systems provide this choice).
    • Strategies that promote the continuity of the curriculum, of pedagogies and of professional capacity, and of institutional arrangements that in turn ensure smooth transition between ECEC and primary school and beyond are most needed. In contrast, strategies, like grade retention, that are not beneficial for improving learning outcomes should not be supported. There should be an emphasis on proper support and early warning systems that are the foundation of a good education system, not simply an accessory.
    • The study confirms that underachievement (a more subtle term than low-achievement), i.e. students not reaching their full potential during their school years, is due to the inadequacy of the education system.

    ECEC

    • Positive outcomes of ECEC include: early literacy, language and numeracy skills as well as pro-social behaviour, self-regulation, motivation, capacity to do independent work, take responsibility for tasks. These are essential for the further development of competences at school. The analysis of the profile of underachievers/early school leavers in the study reveals that they often lack a number of these cognitive and non-cognitive abilities, whose foundations are set by ECEC services. This confirms that there is a direct link between ECEC and ESL.
    • The study brings these outcomes in direct connection with certain characteristics of ECEC systems. Main quality aspects that bring good outcomes of ECEC systems and good outcomes for the individual children are: access (including affordability), governance (i.e. monitoring and evaluation and good leadership), structure (i.e. adequate staff training, the existence of a curriculum, staff-child ratio) and process quality (i.e. parental engagement and the quality interactions among all actors) of ECEC services. These quality aspects need to be developed interdependently.
    • The study brings practical examples how countries address the above issues. These include: efficient leadership with more autonomy can cater more effectively for local needs even if there is a shortage of places; additional quality support staff (psychologist, speech therapist, etc.) is key to having competent teams to deal with the diversity of children and with bigger group sizes; a deeper understanding of learning through play (both child and adult initiated) can serve as a major and efficient lever for children’s learning; initiatives that work with the parents of disadvantaged children are essential for the good outcomes of ECEC.

    Transitions to later stages of education

    • Sustainability of positive outcomes of ECEC for children depends on learning experiences in subsequent levels of education. Good quality ECEC is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success in primary and secondary school. After ECEC the following quality criteria need to be met in subsequent schooling: efficiency dimension: no part of the system is allowed to waste or counteract the results of other parts of the system; equity dimension: the conditions for success of one sub-group are not allowed to damage the prospects of another sub-group; cohesion dimension: its stakeholders are aware of and feel responsible for the full breadth of the education system; representativeness dimension: the diversity of its cohorts of pupils is mirrored by the diversity of its staff and policymakers.
    • The transitions between different levels of education (from ECEC to primary and from primary to secondary education) prove to be delicate phases in the learning process, and negative experiences can undermine acquisitions from previous stages. Educational systems should ensure smooth transition between levels by ensuring structural, pedagogical and professional continuity.
    • These principles translate into concrete measures, such as ensuring continuity of institutions, of training, of curriculum, building professional capacity of diverse workforce from early years up to the end of compulsory schooling, developing systematic monitoring and exploiting the result for policy development, empowering all parents to support their children’s learning process, etc.

    Download Executive Summary

  • OECD: International Migration Outlook 2014

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 1, 2014
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    This flagship publication on migration analyses recent developments in migration movements and policies in OECD countries and selected non-OECD countries. This edition also contains two special chapters on “The labour market integration of immigrants and their children: developing, activating and using skills” and “Managing labour migration: Smart policies to support economic growth”. It also includes Country notes and a Statistical Annex. This special edition is launched at the occasion of the High-level Policy Forum on Migration (Paris, 1-2 December 2014).

    Download Report

    Highlights from the Executive Summary

    Investing in the labour market integration of immigrants
    First- and second-generation immigrants are playing a growing role in the workforce. In countries settled through immigration, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, as well as inWestern Europe, immigrants are well established. Elsewhere, in Southern Europe for example, they are a relatively recent but growing presence in the education system and the labour market.
    The integration of immigrants and their families has been a prime policy objective in many OECD countries for at least the past 15 years. Perhaps the most important challenge is unleashing immigrants’ full skills potential. A number of policy approaches can help make this happen:
    ● Make information on foreign qualifications more widely available and improve their recognition.
    ● Ensure immigrants have access to active labour market programmes and that they benefit from them.
    ● Put immigrants more directly in contact with employers.
    ● Provide immigrants’ children with high-quality early childhood education and care.
    ● Provide language training adapted to immigrants’ skills.

    Key figures
    ● Preliminary data suggests permanent migration flows to the OECD rose by about 1% in 2013 compared to 2012, following a 0.8% drop in 2012 compared to the previous year.
    ● Labour migration has declined continuously since the economic downturn and fell by about 12% in 2012. By contrast, free-movement migration rose 10%.
    ● Asylum seeking increased by 20% in 2013 compared to 2012.
    ● Worldwide, the number of students enrolled outside their country of citizenship more than doubled since 2000 to reach 4.5 million in 2012, with 75% enrolled in OECD countries.
    ● With a little over half a million emigrants, China accounted for almost 10% of all flows to OECD countries in 2012, followed by Romania (5.6%) and Poland (5.4%).
    ● There are more than 115 million immigrants in the OECD, about 10% of the total population.
    ● In 2012, about 12.5% of all 15 year-olds had two foreign-born parents – 50% more than a decade earlier. Their integration, particularly those with parents with low levels of education, is a growing concern.
    ● The crisis hit immigrants disproportionately hard: of the additional 15 million unemployed in the OECD since 2007, about 1 in 5 is foreign-born.
    ● Despite the crisis most immigrants are in work. On average, a higher proportion of low-educated immigrants (54.1%) are in work than their native-born peers (52.6%).
    ● By contrast, tertiary educated immigrants are less likely to be in work than their native-born counterparts (77% versus 84%). And when employed, they are 50% more likely to be over-qualified for their jobs.

    Via OECD Library 

  • UK: London’s diverse ethnic population explains the success of its schools

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 1, 2014
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    londoneffect-articleLondon’s diverse ethnic population is the reason for its pupils achieving significantly better GCSE results than the rest of England, according to a new study published on 12 November.

    This study from the Centre for Market and Public Organisation(CMPO) at the University of Bristol looked at GCSE data for the whole of England to understand what lies behind the ‘London Effect’ – a term used to describe the high levels of attainment and progress of pupils in the capital.

    The London Effect is large: the report shows that pupils in London schools score about eight GCSE grade points higher than those in the rest of England, relative to their attainment at age 11. For example, this means achieving eight Cs rather than eight Ds, or eight As rather than eight Bs.

    Evidence in the study shows that this is explained by the ethnic composition of pupils in London. Once ethnicity was taken into account in the analysis, the London Effect in pupil progress disappears.

    Previous research from CMPO showed that white British pupils achieve the lowest GCSE scores relative to their attainment at age 11, which this study confirms for 2013. Combined with the fact that this group make up 34 per cent of Year 11 pupils in London compared to 84 per cent in the rest of England, researchers say the background to the result is clear.

    Professor Simon Burgess, who carried out the research, said: “We know that ethnic minority pupils score more highly in GCSEs relative to their prior attainment than white British pupils. London simply has a lot more of these high-achieving pupils and so has a higher average GCSE score than the rest of the country.

    “Many policy makers, school leaders and commentators enthuse about the major policy of the time, London Challenge, and view it as unambiguously improving schools in London. This unanimity carries weight, and no doubt London schools were improved in a number of ways. But so far at least, catching a reflection of this improvement in the attainment data is proving to be difficult.”

    The report also looks at the role of the children of recent immigrants rather than ethnicity. Evidence shows that taking account of the number of pupils who are the children of immigrants also accounts for the London Effect.

    Comparing Newcastle, where 11.8 per cent of the population was born abroad and arrived before the year 2000, with London, where the number is 34.7 per cent, yields a difference of about 15 GCSE grade points in pupil progress in London’s favour.

    Looking back over the past decade, the study shows that there has been a London Effect in secondary school progress since at least 2004, and that it is accounted for by ethnic composition in each year.

    Analysis of some different measures of attainment shows that a London Effect is much reduced once ethnicity is taken into account, but remains significant. These include measures that remove vocational qualifications (known as GCSE ‘equivalents’) from the total and measures of very high GCSE performance.

    Professor Burgess added: “My interpretation of these results leads to a focus on pupil aspiration, ambition and engagement. There is nothing inherently different in the ability of pupils from different ethnic backgrounds, but the children of relatively recent immigrants typically have greater hopes and expectations of education, and are, on average, more likely to be engaged with their school work. This is not by chance of course. A key point about London is its attraction to migrants and those aspiring to a better life.

    “London has a right to be pleased with itself in terms of the excellent GCSE performance of its pupils. These results help to explain the London Effect but they do not explain it away. The London Effect is a very positive thing, and much of the praise for this should be given to the pupils and parents of London for creating a successful
    multi-ethnic school system.”

    Paper

    ‘Understanding the success of London’s schools’ by Simon Burgess, CMPO Discussion Paper 14/333 published on 12 November.

    Via Bristol University News

    Articles regarding this study available in:

    •  BBC: Diversity ‘key to London GCSE success’
    • The Daily Mail : Ethnic diversity boost GCSE results: Cities with large numbers of children from immigrant backgrounds do better because they work harder
    • The Guardian: London’s GCSE success due to ethnic diversity in capital’s schools – report
    • The Independent: Hard-working ethnic minority pupils lifting schools’ results as ‘London effect’ takes hold
    • The Telegraph: Schools with large migrant intake ‘get better GSCE results’
  • Spain: Education without Borders

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on December 1, 2014
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    Education doesn’t have borders. Teachers, students and members of the Education Council participated in a round table on “Education and Immigration” in the Casa de Cultrua in Sama.  The event, moderated by LA NUEVA ESPAÑA journalist Luis Manuel Díaz, was organised by the Asociación Pro Inmigrantes Intervalo, in the framework of the campaign “November for Integration”.

    Covadonga Menéndez, representing the Student Service, Orientation and Participation in the Education Council, spoke about the measures used within the Asturias and the centres for newly arrived migrant students.  “Reception plans are in place in the centres offering tutorials, reception classes and language immersion classes. We have 3,698 foreign students in these classes throughout Asturias”, she signalled.

    Read more via La Nueva España (in Spanish)

  • Press release: Migrant education policies across Europe: “the most important issue facing European education over the next decade”

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 19, 2014
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    BRUSSELS — The SIRIUS Network on the education of children and young people with a migrant background has developed recommendations and a clear Agenda for Migrant Education in Europe that give concrete guidelines on how to improve education systems so as to decrease the achievement gap for all low-achieving students.

    According to the Institute of Policy Studies in Education (London Metropolitan University), “migrant education is the most important issue facing European education over the next decade”. While the EU has underlined the importance of education and has set ambitious targets for the improvement of educational results, migrant children are often overlooked in national policy making. This is why we need to highlight successful strategies to effectively implement education policies with targeted measures for migrant students on a systematic level.

    Children with migrant background are disproportionally represented among dropouts and the lowest performing percentiles because they have a number of critical, and specific, education needs that are not currently met through mainstream education policy. Yet migrant children form a large percentage of the EU population. According to EU data, 8.3 million young people in the EU Member States (3.1 million under 15 and 5.2 million aged 15-24) were born abroad, while the number of second-generation young adults (aged 15-34) are estimated at over four million. The youth unemployment and young people “Not in Education, Employment or Training” (NEET) rates are significantly higher for first and second generation migrants than for their native peers in most EU Member States. The EU Migrant Integration Indicators indicate that the share of early school leaving among foreign-born learners in the EU is nearly twice as high as among the total population. Eurostat’s 2011 statistical report on Migrants in Europe also shows that the shares are higher for second-generation youth with migrant parents.

    The European Union has underlined the importance of education, notably in its 10 year EU growth and competitiveness strategy, EU 2020. The strategy sets ambitious targets for the improvement of educational results: reducing school drop-out rates to below 10% (currently at 12%), and ensuring that at least 40% of 30-34 year olds have completed tertiary education by 2020 (currently at 36.9%). The results of the Education and Training Monitor 2014 show that we still have some way to go to achieving these results, and SIRIUS insists that these targets will be achieved only if we focus on reducing the inequalities of access to schooling and quality of education for socio-economically disadvantaged communities across the continent, in particular for migrants coming from a low socio-economic background.

    Updating the agenda on the education of migrant learners may help EU Member States to reach their common targets for a smart and inclusive economic growth and against youth unemployment. For example, the EU’s 2013 report on Using EU Indicators of Immigrant Integration estimates that closing the gap in early school leaving rates for foreign-born learners would bring the EU 30% closer to its headline target of reducing this rate to 10% and prevent half a million young people from leaving school early, which accounts for 8.7% of all early school leavers in the EU.

    “The agenda for migrant education in Europe comes at a critical time. In this time of austerity and increasing migration in Europe we need to be doing more – not less – for migrant learners” commented Miquel Angel Essomba, General Coordinator of the SIRIUS European Policy Network.

    END

    Notes

    1. The Agenda, recommendations and full list of endorsements can be read at: http://www.sirius-migrationeducation.org/a-clear-agenda-for-migrant-education-in-europe/
    2. SIRIUS is organising a conference in Brussels on 19-20 November 2014 to establish how to make school a success story for children and youth with migrant background: http://www.sirius-migrationeducation.org/sirius-conference-helping-children-and-youth-with-migrant-background-succeed-making-schools-matter-for-all-november-2014/ Young people with a migrant background, as well as practitioners and policy makers, will be available for interviews. You can already read some interviews with migrant run organisations working on different aspects of inclusive education on Immigrant Contribution section of the SIRIUS Website: http://www.sirius-migrationeducation.org/the-immigrant-contribution-2/

    SIRIUS is a European Policy Network on the education of children and young people with a migrant background. The project runs over a three-year period (2012-14) and is funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission. Network partners include research centres, universities, civil-society organisations and public entities. SIRIUS integrates existing studies and reports on migrant education, updates data and hopes to transform the policy implementation on migration and education throughout the European Union. For more, visit www.sirius-migrationeducation.org.

    The Brussels-based Migration Policy Group (MPG) has been active in the SIRIUS Network as Communications Manager since 2012. MPG is an independent non-profit European organisation dedicated to strategic thinking and acting on equality and mobility. Mobility refers on the one hand to geographic mobility and the international movement of people leading to migration, settlement and integration, and on the other hand to social mobility that is hampered by discrimination and is promoted by equal opportunities.  For more on its work, visit www.migpolgroup.com

  • Language Support for Youth with a Migrant Background: Policies that Effectively Promote Inclusion

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 14, 2014
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    coverthumb-SIRIUS-Language_SupportIt is crucial for children of migrant background in Europe to become proficient in their host country’s main language of instruction. Lack of instruction-language proficiency impedes students’ comprehension and ability to follow lessons, which can lead to poor academic performance.

    To avoid such outcomes, schools should provide sufficient support for youth of migrant background to learn and master the language of instruction. Teachers should also receive training to address the linguistic needs of their students in the best way possible. At the same time, schools could support the continued use and study of pupils’ mother tongue, which can both help students learn the host-country language and enrich the educational environment by introducing cultural and linguistic diversity.

    A new policy brief published by MPI Europe and the SIRIUS Policy Network on the education of children and youngsters with a migrant background, Language support for youth with a migrant background: Policies that effectively promote inclusion, provides key points and good practice examples on what comprehensive language support might look like.

    Recent studies have identified a number of tools and approaches that can provide effective language support for migrant children, including adequate initial assessment of language skills, language induction programmes that ensure a smooth transition into mainstream classrooms, ongoing language support, training for teachers of all subjects, and valuing students’ mother tongue. Despite these suggestions, there is no blueprint for what ideal language support might look like, and many European Union (EU) Member States are facing gaps in implementation of best practices.

    Download Policy Brief on Language Support

    The Brief is also available for download in French, German and Spanish.

    This policy brief is part of a series produced by the SIRIUS Network in collaboration with MPI Europe, which focuses on how policies at the EU level and within individual Member States can better support the education outcomes of young people with a migrant background.

    Via Migration Policy Institute 

  • Investing in Education: a sine qua non condition to reach 2020 targets

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 14, 2014
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    eucis

    The Education and Training Monitor 2014 reveals the alarming situation in investment in education across Europe. 19 Member States cut their education expenditure in 2012. This goes against Member States’ EU commitments to invest in growth-friendly public investment as stated in the last Annual Growth Surveys. Moreover, the messages from EU Budget negotiations of “conciliation” talks between the European Parliament and the Council on the EU budget for 2015 are worrying as proposed cuts by the Council amendments would effect fields such as education and research. This sends a very negative signal to European citizens especially at the time when hopes have been raised about the €300 billion Investment Package announced by M. Juncker. The time has also come to hear concrete proposals how the Package will support greater cohesion and solidarity in Europe. EUCIS-LLL calls on Member States to stick to their European commitments in order to reach the Europe 2020 targets.

    The European Commission has published a third annual Education and Training Monitor 2014, accompanied by twenty-eight country reports and visualisation tool to evaluate the performance and progress of the Member States in relation to the ET 2020 targets. The monitor reveals the huge challenges remaining for investment in education – a topic that will be tackled in a EUCIS-LLL round tableEfficient and equitable funding of education: a target beyond reachduring LLL Week on 9th December. Promoting investment in education and skills was mentioned in the Country Specific Recommendations for most Member States. However over the last number of years Member States have cut their spending in education1. The Annual Growth Survey 2014 states that “in terms of expenditure, Member States need to find ways to protect or promote longer term investment in education, research, innovation, energy and climate action.” EUCIS-LLL thus calls Member States to stick to their European commitment.

    The cost of non-investing in education especially for the most vulnerable groups is very high. Lower-skilled adults in literacy are for instance twice less likely to be employed but also to access basic welfare services, participate in democratic and associative life or even develop a sense of social cohesion2. One of the key findings of the monitor is moreover that socio-economic and socio-cultural inequalities continue to impact negatively upon educational outcomes. Parental education attainment still determines to a large extent one’s own education attainment. According to the monitor, ten countries received Country Specific Recommendations to focus on disadvantaged learners in particular – given the challenging school dropout rates amongst disadvantaged and the need to improve inclusiveness and quality in all levels, from early childhood care to adult education. To tackle this, EUCIS-LLL is calling for a new flagship initiative in EU2020 on inclusive education to fight inequalities and discrimination in education and training. EUCIS-LLL also considers this should be a key priority on the announced Investment Package for which EUCIS-LLL is looking forward to hear concrete proposals to support education and training for a greater cohesion and solidarity in Europe.

    EUCIS-LLL is also concerned about ongoing developments in the recent phase of “conciliation” between the European Parliament and the Council on the EU budget for 2015 proposed by the Commission. The possible cuts on research and education by the Council in their amendments to the European Commission’s 2015 budget would be harmful for both Erasmus+ and Horizon2020 not only in terms of worsening or disrupting the payments for beneficiaries but also by disregarding the role education and research can play to answer the numerous challenges Europe is facing at the moment. EUCIS-LLL thus calls on Member States to safeguard those important programmes that contribute to implement the political goals set for 2020.


    1. The Education and Training Monitor 2014
    2. Survey of Adult Skills PIACC, OECD

    Notes to the editors:
    The European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning (EUCIS-LLL) is an umbrella association that gathers 36 European organisations active in the field of education and training, coming from all EU Member States and beyond. Currently these networks represent more than 45 000 educational institutions (schools, universities, adult education and youth centres, etc.) and associations (involving students, teachers and trainers, parents, HRD professionals, etc.) covering all sectors of formal, non-formal and informal learning. Their members reach out to several millions of beneficiaries. Download our brochure in 23 languages!

    www.eucis-lll.eu

    Via - Press release from EUCIS-LLL

  • Education and Training Monitor 2014 now available

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 13, 2014
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    ETM2014The third annual edition of the Education and Training Monitor charts the evolution of education and training systems across Europe. It brings together, in a concise, digestible way, the latest quantitative and qualitative data, recent technical reports and studies, plus policy documents and developments.

    While focused on empirical evidence, each section in the Monitor has clear policy messages for the Member States.

    The Education and Training Monitor 2014 supports the implementation of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) by strengthening the evidence-base and by linking it more closely to the broader Europe 2020 strategy and the country-specific recommendations (CSRs) adopted by the Council as part of the 2014 European Semester.

    On its official website, the Education and Training Monitor 2014  is accompanied by twenty-eight country reports, as well as a visualisation tool to evaluate the performance and progress of the Member States in relation to the ET 2020 targets.

    Via European Commission

    Some highlights of the Education and Training Monitor 2014 

    Education has to live up to its potential to level the playing field, to avoid proactively any form of discrimination and social exclusion, and to provide chances for all learners. Socio-economic and socio-cultural inequalities continue to impact negatively upon educational outcomes. Parental education attainment still determines to a large extent one’s own education attainment and new evidence suggests that intergenerational education mobility is actually slowing down in the industrialised world. Ten countries received CSRs to focus on disadvantaged learners in particular (AT, BG, CZ, DE, DK, HU, LU, RO, SE and SK). Although tackling educational disadvantage is complex and requires wide-ranging, integrated strategies, Member States cannot afford to ignore these challenges. (p.28)

    ETM2014_ESL

    Reducing the number of early school leavers will save Europe large  public and social costs and protect the individual  for a high risk of poverty and social exclusion. There are still more than five million early school leavers across Europe, facing an unemployment rate of 41%. As Europe gets closer to the EU2020 headline target, 12.0% in 2013,  it becomes increasingly visible what  a complex, multifaceted problem early school leaving is. A slow but steady progress is hiding significant disparities between but also within countries. The risk of early school leaving is 33.3% higher amongst men; more than twice as high for foreign-born; no less than 156.1% higher for those suffering  physical difficulties; and more than three times as high in bottom-performing regions than in top-performing regions in BG, CZ, PL, ES, UK and BE. (p.34)
    etm2014_tertiary attainment

    In higher education, broadening access and reducing dropout rates amongst disadvantaged groups remains challenging. The rate of tertiary education attainment in Europe has steadily grown to 36.9%, yet high-qualified employment is forecasted to have increased a further 13% by 2020. Moreover, the persisting disparities between and within countries leave no room for complacency. The rate of tertiary education attainment is 26% higher amongst women; about 10% higher for native-born; 62.4% lower for individuals suffering physical difficulties; and in CZ, RO and SK, bottom-performing regions have attainment rates that are at least 60% lower than those found in top-performing regions. Only a handful of countries strive to widen participation and boost completion rates amongst disadvantaged groups. (p.41)

     

  • Developing School Capacity for Diversity

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 12, 2014
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    schoolcapacity_policybriefFor children of migrant background, school quality is critical to ensuring academic success. Research shows that school quality has a greater impact on the education outcomes of migrant children compared to their peers of higher socioeconomic status or ethnic majority background. Therefore, any comprehensive strategy to improve the educational position of migrant children must work to improve the quality of schools themselves.

    School quality, or professional capacity, encompasses the capacity of its teachers, administrators, and other staff. It can be measured by examining the content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and interpersonal skills of instructors; the level of responsibility administrators give teachers; and whether all staff work together in a cohesive, professional learning community. Schools with these communities, in which teachers work continuously to improve their teaching practices and learn from their colleagues, are more effective in encouraging student achievement in disadvantaged areas than are schools where teachers do little to reflect on their practices.

    This policy brief uses the concept of professional capacity to frame SIRIUS’s recommendations regarding school quality. It identifies four key areas for improvement: language diversity, the learning environment, social psychology and acculturation, and community connections. To develop expertise in these areas, the brief outlines three strategies for policymakers:

    1. build professional learning communities that focus on diversity;
    2. build networks of expertise on diversity;
    3. and develop teacher training programs dedicated to diversity.

    Download Policy Brief on School Capacity for Diversity

    The Brief is also available for download in French, German and Spanish.

    This policy brief is part of a series produced by the SIRIUS Network in collaboration with MPI Europe, which focuses on how policies at the EU level and within individual Member States can better support the education outcomes of young people with a migrant background.

    Via Migration Policy Institute 

  • Proposal for key principles of a Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 12, 2014
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    European Commission Working Group: Early Childhood Education and Care (2012-2014)

    This Working Group on Early Childhood Education Care (ECEC) reflects the diverse governance arrangements of early childhood education and care under different national authorities in the education as well as social, family and health sectors. It has developed a proposal for a European Quality Frameworkpdf so as to improve, monitor, and evaluate the quality of early childhood education and care systems.

    The group identified and analysed success criteria of effective policies to develop guidance for national policy makers. It focused on five main aspects of quality in early childhood education and care:

    Access

    • Provision that is available and affordable to all families and their children: The potential benefits of high quality universal provision are particularly significant for children from disadvantaged and/or marginalised groups. ECEC provision should be made available from birth to the age at which children start compulsory primary school. To respond to parental circumstances and encourage all families to use ECEC services, provision needs to offer flexibility in relation to opening hours and the content of the programme.
    • Provision that encourages participation, strengthens social inclusion and embraces diversity: Successful inclusion in ECEC is based on: a collaborative approach to promoting the benefits of ECEC which involves local organisations and community groups; approaches which respect and value the beliefs, needs and culture of parents; an assurance that all children and families are welcome in an ECEC setting/centre; a pro-active approach to encouraging all parents to use ECEC services; a recognition that staff should be trained to help parents and families to value ECEC services and to assure them that their beliefs and cultures will be respected – this training can be supported by parenting programmes which promote ECEC; by close cooperation between the staff in ECEC centres, health and social services, local authorities and the school sector.

    Workforce

    • Well-qualified staff whose initial and continuing training enables them to fulfil their professional role: Recognising the ECEC workforce as professionals is key. Professional development has a huge impact on the quality of staff pedagogy and children’s outcomes. Developing common education and training programmes for all staff working in an ECEC context (e.g. preschool teachers, assistants, educators, family day carers etc.) helps to create a shared agenda and understanding of quality.
    • Supportive working conditions including professional leadership which creates opportunities for observation, reflection, planning, teamwork and cooperation with parents: Good working conditions benefit staff and contribute to their retention. Policy measures affect the structural quality of ECEC provision including locally-determined arrangements on the size of a group; children to adult ratios; working hours, and wage levels which can help to make employment in an ECEC context an attractive option. Good working conditions can also reduce the constant and detrimental staff turnover in ECEC.

    Curriculum

    • A curriculum based on pedagogic goals, values and approaches which enable children to reach their full potential in a holistic way: Children’s education and care as well as their cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language development are important. The curriculum should set common goals, values and approaches which reflect society’s expectation about the role and responsibilities of ECEC settings in encouraging children’s development towards their full potential. All children are active and capable learners whose diverse competences are supported by the curriculum. At the same time the implementation of the curriculum needs to be planned within an open framework which acknowledges and addresses the diverse interests and needs of children in a holistic manner. A well-balanced combination of education and care can promote children’s well-being, positive self-image, physical development and their social and cognitive development. Children’s experiences and their active participation are valued, and the significance of learning through play is understood and supported.
    • A curriculum which requires staff to collaborate with children, colleagues and parents and to reflect on their own practice: A curriculum is an important instrument to stimulate the creation of a shared understanding and trust between children; and between children, parents and ECEC staff in order to encourage development and learning. At a system or national level a curriculum can guide the work of all ECEC settings and contexts – and at a local or setting level, it can describe the practices and priorities in the context of each centre. An essential factor in developing a collaborative approach to the curriculum is the ability of individual staff to analyse their own practice, identify what has been effective and, in partnership with their colleagues, develop new approaches based on evidence. The quality of ECEC is enhanced when staff discuss the implementation of the curriculum within the context of their centre/setting and take account of the needs of the children, their parents and the team. The curriculum can enhance this approach by promoting children’s learning through experimentation and innovation; and encouraging cooperation with parents on how ECEC provision contributes to supporting children’s development and learning.

    Evaluation/monitoring

    • Monitoring and evaluating produces information at the relevant local, regional and/or national level to support continuing improvements in the quality of policy and practice: Systematic monitoring of ECEC allows for the generation of appropriate information and feedback at the relevant local, regional or national level. This information should support open exchange, coherent planning, review, evaluation and the development of ECEC in the pursuit of high quality at all levels in the system. Monitoring and evaluation is more effective when the information collected at a provider level is aligned with the information collected at a municipal, regional and system level.
    • Monitoring and evaluating produces information at the relevant local, regional and/or national level to support continuing improvements in the quality of policy and practice: Systematic monitoring of ECEC allows for the generation of appropriate information and feedback at the relevant local, regional or national level. This information should support open exchange, coherent planning, review, evaluation and the development of ECEC in the pursuit of high quality at all levels in the system. Monitoring and evaluation is more effective when the information collected at a provider level is aligned with the information collected at a municipal, regional and system level.

    Governance/funding

    • Stakeholders in the ECEC system have a clear and shared understanding of their role and responsibilities, and know that they are expected to collaborate with partner organisations: Given the cross-sectoral nature of ECEC provision government, stakeholders and social partners need to work together to secure the success of ECEC services. Legislation, regulation and guidance can be used to create clear expectations about the importance of collaborative working which supports high quality outcomes for children, families and local communities.
    • Legislation, regulation and/or funding supports progress towards a universal legal entitlement to publicly subsidised or funded ECEC, and progress is regularly reported to all stakeholders: Structural or legislative arrangements support access to ECEC by giving families the right to access affordable ECEC provision. Approaches which support progress towards the universal availability of ECEC recognise that providing additional funds to support access for disadvantaged groups can be an effective strategy for increasing access especially for children
      from migrant, disadvantaged or low-income families. Monitoring the uptake of ECEC ensures that funding is used effectively. In order to make progress towards universal entitlement to provision measures to emphasise the attractiveness and value of ECEC services need to be in place.

    The group brought together representatives from 25 EU Member States plus Turkey and Norway, the Eurydice Network, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and the OECD.

    Other Outputs of the Working Group on ECEC:

    Read more:

    SIRIUS: A Clear Agenda for Migrant Education in Europe

    What are ET2020 Working Groups?

  • Mentoring: What Can Support Projects Achieve That Schools Cannot?

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 6, 2014
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    Although corporate multinational firms around the world have long reaped the benefits of mentoring and coaching programs, such programs are a relatively new fixture in Europe’s education system. For disadvantaged children of migrant background, who are disproportionately among those who underperform in the classroom, mentoring programs provide specific and personalized support on the road to academic success. Mentors who act as role models and fill the role of an older sibling can help improve the cognitive gains, self-esteem, and self-reliance of their mentees. When a high-achieving university student with an immigrant background teams up with a younger, at-risk student with immigrant parents, the positive effects can extend far beyond the classroom.

    In fact, mentoring is important precisely because it addresses core needs that schools themselves are not equipped to fill. The intense and individualized guidance provided via mentoring can motivate students more deeply and personally, and learning in an informal setting rather than a classroom can be a refreshing change for teenagers. Additionally, mentors can tackle emotional, cognitive, and social problems in a more holistic manner—for example, by reaching out to a student’s parents—than teachers are able to realize in the constraints of the school environment. The power of mentors lies in their ability to push pupils to become agents of their own educational trajectories and destinies.

    This policy brief explores how European policymakers can design mentoring and other educational support projects to be an integral part of the educational landscape, and explains why it is important for them to do so. It highlights examples of successful mentoring experiences that focus on cultivating the hidden talents and potential of children of immigrants, countering prevailing narratives about these children possessing an educational deficit and needing to “catch up” in school. Finally, the brief summarizes current research on the benefits of mentoring and offers recommendations for program development and for policymakers at the EU level.

    Download Policy Brief on Mentoring

    The Brief is also available for download in French, German and Spanish.

    This policy brief is part of a series produced by the SIRIUS Network in collaboration with MPI Europe, which focuses on how policies at the EU level and within individual Member States can better support the education outcomes of young people with a migrant background.

    Via Migration Policy Institute 

  • Luxembourg: Portuguese children punished for speaking Portuguese

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 6, 2014
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    Kindergartens and public workshops (ateliês de tempos livres – ATL) in Luxembourg are to punish children who speak Portuguese, a decision which also extends to immigrant workers in the country. “We were told we could not speak Portuguese with the kids and they also could not speak Portuguese amongst themselves, “says a Portuguese employee of a public institution in Esch-sur-Alzette. The management of the establishment where he works, which includes a nursery, expressly prohibits educators and assistants from speaking Portuguese with children in their mother tongue, a prohibition which also extends to the conversations between the children, almost all of Portuguese origin. The languages ​​allowed in the ATL where children spend between “four to six hours a day” outside of school hours, are limited to the three official languages ​​of the country: French, German and Luxembourgish This is not the only establishment in Luxembourg where the ban is in force to speak Portuguese. 

    Read more in Portuguese via TVI24 

  • Enhancing EU Education Policy: Building a Framework to Help Young People of Migrant Background Succeed

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 4, 2014
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    While many countries in Europe have high-quality, well-established education systems, socioeconomically disadvantaged communities across the continent suffer from inequality of access and lower-quality education. Children from these groups, including children with a migrant background—those who are immigrants themselves or have immigrant parents—tend to underperform in the classroom compared with their native peers. Children from a migrant background (defined here as from countries outside the European Union) have particular educational needs that mainstream education policy does not always meet, including overcoming language barriers and discrimination. Recognizing the importance of education in allowing countries to realize their potential, the European Commission has developed a series of goals in the form of the Education and Training Strategy (ET 2020) to help Member States reduce school dropout and increase rates of tertiary education completion.

    This brief sketches how children with a migrant background face the most urgent needs in Europe’s education systems. The overall rate for early school leaving is 33 percent for third-country nationals—more than double the overall 14.1 percent rate within the European Union, for example. Rates of youth unemployment and young people “Not in Education, Employment or Training” (NEET) are significantly higher for first- and second-generation migrants than for their native peers in most EU Member States. The brief examines a number of proposals for ways that local, national, and regional institutions can help educational systems become more community-centered, systemic, and inclusive in order to close the school achievement gap between native and immigrant students.

    According to EU data, 8.3 million young people in the EU Member States (3.1 million under age 15 and 5.2 million ages 15-24) were born abroad, while the number of second-generation young adults (ages 15-34) is estimated at more than 4 million.

    Download Policy Brief

    Enhancing EU Education Policy: Building a Framework to Help Young People of Migrant Background Succeed

    The Brief is also available for download in French, German and Spanish.

    This policy brief is part of a series produced by the SIRIUS Network in collaboration with MPI Europe, which focuses on how policies at the EU level and within individual Member States can better support the education outcomes of young people with a migrant background.

    Via Migration Policy Institute 

  • A Clear Agenda for Migrant Education in Europe

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on November 3, 2014
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    The European Union has underlined the importance of education, notably in its most recent 10 year EU growth and competitiveness strategy, EU 2020. The strategy sets ambitious targets for the improvement of educational results: reducing school drop-out rates to below 10%, and ensuring that at least 40% of 30-34 year olds have completed tertiary education by 2020. This goal was developed from and is supported by the Education and Training Strategy (ET 2020), which is based on strategic objectives that include promoting equity, social cohesion, and active citizenship.

    ClassroomWhile European countries have well-established education systems, there exists a strong inequality of access to schooling and quality of education for socio-economically disadvantaged communities across the continent, in particular for migrants coming from a low socio-economic background. According to EU data, 8.3 million young people in the EU Member States (3.1 million under 15 and 5.2 million aged 15-24) were born abroad, while the number of second-generation young adults (aged 15-34) are estimated at over four million. The youth unemployment and young people “Not in Education, Employment or Training” (NEET) rates are significantly higher for first and second generation migrants than for their native peers in most EU Member States. The EU Migrant Integration Indicators indicate that the share of early school leaving among foreign-born learners in the EU is nearly twice as high as among the total population. Eurostat’s 2011 statistical report on Migrants in Europe also shows that the shares are higher for second-generation youth with migrant parents. Clearly, young people with migrant background have a number of critical and specific education needs that are still not met and may not be compensated for through current education policies or in the classroom. Updating the agenda on the education of migrant learners may help EU Member States to reach their common targets for a smart and inclusive economic growth and against youth unemployment. For example, the EU’s 2013 report on Using EU Indicators of Immigrant Integration estimates that closing the gap in early school leaving rates for foreign-born learners would bring the EU 30% closer to its headline target of reducing this rate to 10% and prevent half a million young people from leaving school early, which accounts for 8.7% of all early school leavers in the EU.

    Agenda and supporting Recommendations

    petit 3x1,85The SIRIUS Network on the education of children and young people with a migrant background has spent the past three years debating policy priorities for migrant education and inclusion. EU and national stakeholder meetings, conferences, peer reviews and site visits have contributed to our knowledge on how education systems must change to provide all learners with the skills and knowledge to perform to their potential in today’s diverse societies.

    Summarising the results of these activities, the Agenda for Migrant Education in Europe and the supporting recommendations for EU institutions and for Member State authorities present a vision on migrant education and a set of policy recommendations that aim to promote a more inclusive education system and lead to a decrease in the achievement gap between pupils with and without a migrant background. Migration Policy Group, as SIRIUS’ Communications Officer, developed a first draft based on the outcomes of the EU stakeholder meetings that have taken place since September 2013, as well as recommendations from numerous SIRIUS publications. This text was improved upon through a consultative process with the SIRIUS Steering Committee, SIRIUS’ national and collaborative partners, as well as EU stakeholders from August to October 2014.

    The final version of this document is well supported by a wide variety of actors who aim to help raise and spread a strong message for a more inclusive education policy including for immigrant learners.

    Download

    sirius agendaThe document includes:

    • A Clear Agenda for Migrant Education in Europe
    • Supporting document: Recommendations on improving education for children and young people with a migrant (for both Educational Authorities in Member States and EU Institutions)
    • Endorsements for the Agenda and Recommendations on Migrant Education
    • Bibliography

    Read press release

    See video summarising the Agenda

  • Germany: Pedagogical experience in Berlin to better integrate immigrant children

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on October 31, 2014
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    In the face of repeated violence at the Rutli school located in the poor neighbourhood of Neukölln in Berlin, teachers were asked to close their facility in March 2006 .

    The mayor responded by gathering on the same site a primary school, a middle school and a high school in order to adapt the teaching to the levels of students. This mix has paid off because today the city school has over 900 students and only 5% leave the institution without a degree.

    Listen to the report in French via France Inter

  • Italy: Minister for Education Giannini: “Teachers specifically to teach Italian to the children of immigrants”

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on October 31, 2014
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    “Non possiamo trascurare che la lingua deve essere uno strumento di integrazione, per questo istituiremo una nuova classe di concorso per formare docenti che insegnino l’italiano come seconda lingua ai bambini figli di immigrati”, dice il ministro Stefania Giannini agli Stati generali della lingua italiana nel mondo organizzati dalla Farnesina a Palazzo Vecchio. Il ministro annuncia dunque un’altra novità della riforma #labuonascuola. Non nasceranno percorsi specifici che già esistono in una decina di atenei italiani, ma si tratta di dare loro un riconoscimento istituzionale e dare un’abilitazione per questo tipo di curricula. Questo significa offrire a molti maestri e prof precari una nuova opportunità di lavoro. “Non basterà essere italofoni per insegnare la lingua italiana, ci sarà un ruolo per la formazione di insegnanti qualificati nella riforma”.

    Read more in Italian via Repubblica.it

  • Britain’s schools need more resources for ‘influx’ of immigrant children, chief schools inspector warns – Telegraph

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on October 30, 2014
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    Britain’s schools need more support to cope with an “influx” of immigrant children, Osted’s chief schools inspector has said.

    Sir Michael Wilshaw said it was a “big issue” for Government if schools are being faced with a large number of new pupils from other countries without the resources to deal with them.

    Speaking on LBC Radio Sir Michael said: “Schools need the resources to deal with that. When they’re faced with an influx of children from other countries, they need the resources and capacity to deal with it and if those resources aren’t there, that’s a big issue for Government. That’s the first thing and we’ll be producing reports on this quite soon.”

    His comments will raise fresh concern that high levels of immigration are putting a strain on the education system.

    Last week Michael Fallon, the Defence Minister claimed British towns are being “swamped” by immigrants and their residents are “under siege”, comments he later described as careless.

    According to official figures, the number of schoolchildren speaking English as a second language has soared by a third in just five years. The proportion of non-native speakers in primary schools has now reached almost 1-in-5 following a year-on-year increase over the last decade. The number of pupils who speak another language in the home exceeded 1.1 million for the first time this year.

    In some parts of London, children with English as a second language now make up as much as three quarters of the school roll, with around half of pupils being classified in towns and cities such as Slough, Luton and Leicester.

    This summer a report by the Government”s official advisors on migration said that parts of Britain are “struggling to cope” with high levels of immigration that have put huge pressures on public services such as the NHS, schools and transport.

    The major report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said that immigration had caused the “composition of many local area populations to alter rapidly” and that such rapid change could lead to friction.

    A separate report by Civitas said that classrooms would come under increased pressure in coming years due to uncontrolled immigration.

    A Department for Education spokesman said: “As part of our plan for education we are making every effort to ensure local authorities have the resources and flexibility to provide the school places needed by their communities.

    “We are giving councils £5billion to spend on new school places over this parliament — double the amount allocated by the previous government over an equivalent period – and a further £2.35billion to create the places needed by September 2017. This has already led to the creation of more than 260,000 new places.

    “School funding is allocated based on pupil need, whether that is special educational needs or where English is not a pupil’s first language and should a school grow in a single year, local authorities can and do top up their funding to reflect that.”

    Via Telegraph 

  • Spain: A study positively evaluates the integration of children of immigrants

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on October 30, 2014
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    crecer en espanyaA study, based on interviews with 6,905 children of immigrants in Madrid and Barcelona confirms that “some things have been well done” in integrating these young people into Spanish society, as 78.4% of them did not have any problematic behaviour by the age of 18. The study, entitled Growing up in Spain. The integration of children of immigrants, was presented at CIDOB, the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs by Rosa Aparicio, researcher at the José Ortega y Gasset University Institute and Professor Alejandro Portes of the University of Princeton.

    The longitudinal study of the second generation (RELSEG) in the Spanish context was inspired by the CILS project in the US. RELSEG started in Spain in 2007-2008 and gathered data on 6,905 children of immigrants from the first three years of compulsory secondary education. In 2010, the parents of 1,843 of those children were interviews and in 2012, new data was collected on 73% of the children originally interviewed (1,900).

    The study indicates that half of the children identify themselves as Spanish and that there are no significant differences between men (49.4%) and women (47.1%), or in those who live in Madrid (49.4%) or Barcelona (46.9%). By the age of 18, the main difference is between those who were born in Spain to parents from abroad (the 2nd generation), of which 81.5% identify with the country, compared to 40.7% of children born abroad and who moved to Spain when they were small.

    When looking at the perception of discrimination, only 5%  stated that they had been discriminated again “often or very often”, which is almost the same as native children (6.1%).

    For further information in Spanish, read the article from La Vanguardia

  • Germany: We need teachers that understand what it means to be different

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on September 30, 2014
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    Sanem Kleff, a teacher born in Ankara and brought up in Hamburg, studied to be a teacher in Turkey and worked in a school in Berlin. Nowadays, she is manager of theSchool without Racismproject, founded during the 1990s when molotov cocktails were through at asylum seekers.

    Kleff explains that the reasons there are few teachers with a migrant background is because:

    1) There are no rolemodels. Parents of children currently in school, who influence the choice of their children’s future, didn’t met teachers with a migrant background in their education. Or else they met bad teachers sent by the Turkish state in order to teach Turkish. The job of teaching is seen as a bad option for their children.

    2) In many families, even in their 3rd generation in Germany, they still consider that they are ‘guest workers’. There is no point for them studying teaching or law in Germany. It would be better to become an engineer or a doctor, as that can be used everywhere.

    3) Teaching is based on language. “Someone whose mother tongue is not German will never have the right level, especially in written German”.

    One of the solutions that SKleff proposes is to increase the number of mentoring programmes for students. Perhaps a quota should also be included as a policy change to increase the number of teachers with a migrant background.

    Via Sueddeutsche (in German)

  • Italy: Ministry of Education establishes a National Observatory for the integration of foreign students

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on September 30, 2014
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    A National Observatory for the integration of foreign students and interculturalism has been established by special decree by the Minister of Education, University and Research, Stefania Giannini.  It aims to identify solutions to implement effective integration policies in schools according to the real needs of an increasingly multicultural society and in constant transformation. The Observatory will be consultative and proactive.  In particular, it shall promote and “suggest” school policies for the integration of pupils with non-Italian citizenship and verify their implementation (including through monitoring), to encourage inter-institutional agreements and encourage experimentation and innovative teaching methodology and discipline. Among the tasks of the Observatory are also to express opinions and formulate proposals on regulatory initiatives and administrative jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.

    via Migrantes Online

  • Finland – School Health Promotion Study: Young immigrants need support

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on September 18, 2014
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    There are clear differences in the health and well-being of first-generation young immigrants when compared to young people in the general population or other young people with immigrant backgrounds. First-generation young immigrants find the school work environment poorer than other young people, and they have more difficulties with studies than others. They feel less often other young people that they get support for problems with school or studies.

    The School Health Promotion Study, carried out by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), enabled in 2013 for the first time a separate wide-ranging and comprehensive analysis of the health and well-being of young people with immigrant backgrounds in Finland. By first-generation immigrants we mean here young people who were born abroad and whose parents, likewise, were born abroad.

    First-generation young immigrants perceive more difficulties in accessing pupil welfare services than other young people. “Schools should ensure that young people with immigrant backgrounds and their families know about the different kinds of services and support available in schools and pupil welfare. They should also try to encourage young people with immigrant backgrounds to trust more in the service providers,” says Researcher Anni Matikka.

    Young immigrants are a heterogeneous group

    Finland report_mental health

    Lack of close friends was more common among first-generation young immigrants than among other young people. Falling victim to bullying, physical threats and sexual violence was also more common among first-generation young immigrants compared to other young people. First-generation young immigrants reported poorer health, were tired and had symptoms more often than other young people. Even anxiety and school fatigue were more common among them. They also smoked, drank alcohol and experimented with drugs more commonly than other young people.

    The number of people of foreign origin in Finland is four times higher and the number of people whose main language is not Finnish or Swedish is ten times higher than in 1990. Children account for a fifth of all those whose main language is not Finnish or Swedish. So far there as been very little information about the health and well-being of children and young people with immigrant backgrounds. “The report now released shows that young immigrants are a heterogeneous group, and not all young immigrants need help. However, there are young immigrants who are facing several challenges in their health and well-being, and therefore these individuals need special support,” continues Matikka.

    The report discusses the 2013 School Health Promotion Study responses by pupils in their 8th and 9th year of comprehensive school. The findings are presented in four categories by the respondent’s and his/her parents’ native country: general population (n=86 065), children in multicultural families (n=5972), second-generation immigrants (n=1641), and first-generation immigrants (n=2784).

    Download report in Finnish

    YLE UUTISET News article on report in English

    Via Finnish National Institute  for Health and Welfare 

  • PISA in Focus: When is competiton between schools beneficial?

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on September 16, 2014
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    OECD school competition

    Would you rather choose where to send your child to school or have the decision made for you based on where you live? Many parents would rather choose, in the belief that with choice comes the chance of getting a better education for their child. But results from PISA find that education systems do not necessarily benefit as a result.

    As the latest PISA in Focus explains, where parents can choose the school that their children attend, socio-economically disadvantaged parents can end up choosing the best school among a more limited set of choices than more affluent parents; as a result, the benefits of school choice may not accrue to the same extent to disadvantaged students as to their more advantaged peers. And if affluent families are more likely to opt out of the neighbourhood school than poorer residents of the same area, competition may increase socio-economic segregation in schools.

    To understand how school choice works in practice, PISA asked parents to rate the importance of different criteria for choosing a school for their children, from “not important at all” to “very important”. Among the list of 11 possible criteria given to parents, one is directly related to the quality of teaching and learning (“The academic achievements of students in the school are high”), but only a minority of parents rated this as “very important” (except in Korea, where 50% of parents did).

    Three of the criteria for school choice listed in the parent questionnaire are related to direct or indirect monetary costs (“the school is a short distance from home”; “expenses are low”; “the school has financial aid available”). For more affluent parents, these cost-related factors weigh less than the quality of instruction in their choice of schools, as shown by the proportion of parents who rate the different criteria as “very important”. But in 10 out of the 11 countries and economies that distributed the parent questionnaire, disadvantaged parents tend to choose their children’s school as much on the basis of cost-related factors as on the quality of instruction. These data therefore suggest that parents of different socio-economic status do not seek the same information about schools before choosing one; and even if they have information about the quality of instruction, it may not be the deciding factor.

    PISA results also show that, on average across countries, school competition is not related to better mathematics performance among students. In systems where almost all 15-year-olds attend schools that compete for enrolment, average performance is similar to that in systems where school competition is the exception.

    What this means is that school choice may actually spoil some of the intended benefits of competition, such as greater innovation in education and a better match between students’ needs and interests and what schools offer, by reinforcing social inequities at the same time.

    Via OECD Education Today

    SIRIUS has previously organised a Stakeholder meeting on School concentration (January 2014), as well as a Thematic Workshop on Segregation and Inclusion in Education (October 2013).

  • Schools offer non-Finnish-speakers adequate help, counsellor says

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on September 4, 2014
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    For a child who has just relocated to Finland, adapting to the country’s school system is a challenge that teachers are now trying to alleviate. But in high school applications, aspiring students with low Finnish competence often run into severe obstacles. The National Board of Education says that Finland’s language teaching resources are well placed, while a professor from Jyväskylä wants the myth of difficulty surrounding Finnish to be broken.

    In the primary school at Savikanta in Imatra, Northern Karelia, preparatory education for children entering the Finnish school system from abroad is a big deal. Prep group teacher Pirjo Pänkäläinen says she does her utmost to ease non-Finnish-speaking children into the swing of Finnish school life by teaching them the basics of the Finnish language. Her groups include students of different ages and from different backgrounds.

    Pänkäläinen designs her lessons to be as inclusive as possible, so that no student finds the course too hard, or too easy. She speaks Russian, and because of the proximity of the eastern border, Russian tends to be the language of highest concern at Savikanta.

    ”I try to speak in Finnish as much as I can,” says Pänkäläinen. “When something just doesn’t seem to go through, I sometimes resort to using Russian to help the students along. And then, letting a child ask questions in their native language can be a relief.”

    Pänkäläinen considers the old model of tossing children headfirst into fully monolingual Finnish groups to learn the language to be outdated.

    ”I was the one to suggest this mixed group to our principal,” she says, “and I feel that the best way for a child to learn a language is along with other children. Language acquisition comes from numerous sources outside of school, too, and all children have that whole world as part of their linguistic education. They interact with children from around the world and that helps them see the world in a new light.”

    Statistics Finland has the mean proportion of non-Finnish-speaking students in primary schools in 2012 at around 4 percent, and there are strong local fluctuations – less than 2 percent of primary school students are non-Finnish-speakers in Northern Finland, while the figure is at 7 percent in the south. This constitutes tens of thousands of children and students.

    Prep education also needed at secondary level

    Starting this autumn, preparatory language education has also been available to people seeking to study in Finnish high schools.

    ”This has been a priority for us because high schools have a smaller proportion of foreign students than in vocational schools,” says Counsellor of Education Leena Nissilä from the National Board of Education

    Nissilä says that the language skills of those foreigners applying to get into high schools or vocational schools depend greatly on the age at which they have begun their studies in Finnish primary schools.

    ”Learning a language takes about 5—7 years of study,” Nissilä claims. “Those who do not enter Finnish basic education until secondary school age are in a tougher position, as they do not have enough time to acquire the necessary skills in Finnish.”

    “According to international research,” she continues, “language aid provided in the learner’s own mother tongue accelerates learning in the first stages of immigration. The aid does not interfere with learning the Finnish language.”

    In Finland it is possible to supplement later language needs with free adult education, in folk high schools or community colleges.

    ”The same international research also shows that extra time usually solves the problem of language proficiency, and a spot in a secondary school can then be acquired,” Nissilä says.

    Professor: ”Finnish language not difficult to learn”

    Finnish is often said to be one of the hardest languages in the world for foreign speakers to learn. Professor Maisa Martin from the University of Hyväskylä, however, says that Finnish is no harder than any other language.

    “Finns like to think that their own language is an especially tough nut to crack, that they must be somehow smarter than the rest of the world,” she says. “The idea has no scientific basis.”

    Martin has taught Finnish as a second language and as a foreign language for nearly 40 years, and is an expert in language teaching. She says she knows through practice which things are hard to learn in Finnish and which things are not. There is also an explanation for the myth of difficulty surrounding the language, she claims.

    ”Most people who set out to learn Finnish speak a mother tongue that is very different from Finnish or not related to it at all,” she says.

    “The distance between the languages makes Finnish hard for these people to learn. Finnish isn’t a hard language for Estonian-speakers, after all,” she says.

    Martin goes on to say that Finns are usually bad at teaching languages. Immigrants are not spoken to in Finnish willingly, unless they are perceived to be proficient already, she says.

    ”If a Finn knows even a touch of English, that is what they will use. If English is out, then so is all conversation,” she describes her view.

    Using a language is a primary prerequisite to learning any new language.

    ”Languages are not learned through rules, dictionaries and grammars,” Martin says. “Current theories say that languages are acquired in chunks. Entire expressions, words or idioms are learned for specific situations. Gradually, these start to compose a system that can be described using rules. Rules are the end result, not the starting point for productive learning.”

    Read more via YLE 

     

  • Germany: Rethinking and improving teacher training

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on September 2, 2014
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    Germany’s union for education and science is gearing up to host a conference in September focused on helping teachers navigate the challenges of working in a 21st century classroom.

    Education International’s (EI) affiliate, The Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW), will launch its GEW Forum on the future of teacher training with a conference, Beyond Teacher Education, in Leipzig, central Germany on 25 September.

    “Inclusive education, school structural reforms, full-time teaching: not only the requirements for schools, but also the challenges for teachers are changing,” said GEW Deputy President and board member responsible for Universities and Research Dr. Andreas Keller.Not least, the growing diversity in the classroom means that teachers must be more than just pedagogues. Meeting these new challenges requires good qualifications before entering the profession and continuous in-service training for teachers.”

    The GEW adopted an “action plan on teacher education” at its 27th national union conference in 2013 held in Dusseldorf, putting the reform of teacher education on the next year’s agenda, he reminded.

    During the fall, the new Forum on teacher training will also begin its work. Representatives of Länder (states) associations, professional groups and GEW branches, as well as experts and representatives from federal and state universities and educational organisations will take part.

     “All teachers and teaching staff, as well as academics and teacher students are cordially invited to the conference,” said Keller. “This event is a GEW contribution to the EI’s Unite for Quality Education campaign and will be a great start for our new GEW Forum on the future of teacher training and a good preparation to World Teachers’ Day on 5 October.”

    The conference will also see EI Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst give a presentation on “What makes a good teacher and a good teacher? Professionalisation, skills and conflict of interest” shedding an international light on this topic.

    Via Education International

    SIRIUS links

    Building Professional Capacity concerning the Educational Position of migrant children Report

    Teacher Training and Professional Capacity – Stakeholder meeting report

    Teachers from migrant and minority background meeting report

  • Austria: 10.5 per cent of pupils without Austrian passport

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on August 28, 2014
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    In the previous school year 120,110 children at school in Austria were not in possession of Austrian citizenship. This represents 10.5 per cent of all students (1,142,726). More than 226,500 pupils or 20 percent had a different mother tongue to German in the school year 2012/13. Most pupils without Austrian citizenship are in possession of a Turkish passport (16,431), followed by pupils of Serbian and Montenegrin nationality (14,023).

    Further information (in German) …

    Via European Web Site on Integration 

     

  • Classroom practice – Let’s win the race to get pupils on track

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on August 27, 2014
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    Athlete-mentors in the US are encouraging disadvantaged students to aim high, and their tactics can be replicated in every classroom.

    Teachers tend to assume, wrongly, that five-year-olds attending schools in low-income urban neighbourhoods cannot be focused on their learning. It is thought that these kids concentrate instead on things like the latest cartoons and do not have the self-awareness to engage in their own academic progress. But my disadvantaged kindergarten pupils have a passion for self-improvement.

    This is because our classroom climate is focused on setting and achieving goals together. We began to do this in 2011 when I was among the first group of teachers to link up with Classroom Champions, a non-profit educational organisation that works internationally, including the US, Canada and Costa Rica, that connects current competing Olympians and Paralympians with students in low-income schools.

    Over the course of a year, the athletes use video chats, blogs and monthly video messages to mentor pupils aged 5-8, introducing them to concepts such as goal-setting, perseverance, taking care of yourself, building friendships, fair play and celebrating success.

    Teachers make these topics part of daily life in the classroom, creating lessons around them and sharing students’ finished work with the athletes and each other.

    My pupils have benefited enormously from the relationships they have formed with their athlete-mentors, but much of the power of goal-setting comes from what happens every day in class. Here is what I have learned about increasing even the youngest students’ investment in their learning.

    Set personal goals

    I start each school year by showing my students pictures of what to expect in kindergarten, before helping each one individually to set simple personal goals. I encourage the children to try something new, setting targets such as “I will learn new songs” or “I will create amazing art”. I have frequent conversations with pupils about their goals and I take photographs as they work towards them.

    Set a shared goal

    I ask the entire class to commit to the shared class goal: “I will learn to read.” I spend the first few weeks talking with them about the steps they will need to take to achieve this, such as mastering the sounds of the alphabet. I also discuss the good habits that contribute to success in life – for example, getting enough sleep.

    Explore aspects of success

    As Classroom Champions, each month students address a topic that relates to working towards their goals, such as perseverance. Conversations on that topic include how to welcome a new challenge, how to know when something is worth the struggle and how to fail but keep trying anyway. These sorts of intentional conversations are key to supporting student success.

    Build a support team

    A shared goal builds strong relationships among classmates. When a new pupil joined us halfway through the year, the students explained the class goal to him and organised themselves to take turns listening to him practise letter sounds, in case he hadn’t learned them at his previous school. Two years later, those students are still his closest friends.

    I also announce the class goals during faculty meetings. As a result, a variety of staff from kitchen workers to PE teachers take the time to ask my students how things are going and offer encouragement.

    Build home support

    Pupils’ families are often astounded that such young learners can be so invested, especially if the parents have limited experience of setting their own goals. They look forward to the newsletters introducing the topic of the month, and some continue to practise goal-setting as their children move on up in the school.

    Provide role models

    I supplement the monthly athlete video lessons with a wide array of picture-book biographies written for children. The best stories for this purpose detail a dream realised through hard work, or a problem that a person had to overcome on the path to accomplishment.

    Celebrate

    At year’s end, I assemble the photographs I have taken into simple albums and present them to each student as a record of his or her growth. These become treasured artefacts, and former students report that they have used the albums to remind themselves that they are capable of making and executing a plan to triumph over challenges.

    Heatherle Chambers is a public kindergarten teacher in Portland, Oregon, US. To find out more about Classroom Champions, visit classroomchampions.org

     

    Via Classroom practice – Let’s win the race to get pupils on track – news – TES

  • Demos report strongly criticises the way English language courses are provided to immigrant communities

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on August 26, 2014
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    The think-tank Demos has published a report on the way English language courses are delivered to immigrant communities in the UK.

    The report uses 2011 national census figures to establish the claim that 850,000 migrants could not speak English ‘well’ or ‘not at all’.  It claims that amongst this group some 700,000 are being left effectively ‘voiceless’ in terms of their dealing with UK governing authorities.

    It argues that newcomers to the UK have not been served well by the failure of governments to put in place a national strategy for the provision of language courses for everyone who would benefit from improved English langauge skills. This has not been helped in recent times by a 40% cut in funding for ESOL courses across the country.

    The report describes a “capacity crunch”, with evidence that  80% of institutions providing ESOL training had waiting lists which sometimes reach the level of 1,000 students waiting to enrol on courses.  Surveys of ESOL providers show  two-thirds (66%) citing the lack of government funding as the main cause.

    As well as arguing a national strategy for the provision of language courses, the report proposes a number of specific recommendations to bridge the gap between supply and demand.  These include:

    • Employers being encouraged to contribute towards the cost of ESOL provision to improve productivity, cohesion and staff retention amongst their employees.
    • Government match-funding employer contributions to help share the burden between employers, learners and the state.
    • Alternative ways for learners to earn ESOL ‘credits’, such as volunteering or opting to mentor other ESOL students through their early stages.
    • Money saved by local authorities from cuts to translation services should instead be ploughed back into ESOL provision.

    The full report can be downloaded here.

    Demos’ press release accompanying the report can be viewed here.

    Via Migrants Rights’ Network

    See the SIRIUS report on Promoting multilingualism among immigrants, following the stakeholder meeting held on this topic in September 2013, as well as the report from the SIRIUS Thematic Workshop on language support to immigrant (minority) children in Europe.

  • Early School Leaving – A Pathway for Change

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on August 25, 2014
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    eslIn November 2013, the Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving (ESL) published it’s final report. Made up of policy makers, practitioners and experts from EU Member States, partner countries and key stakeholder organisations, the Working Group was set up by the European Commission to support Member States to develop and implement comprehensive policies on Early School Leaving.

    Final Report of the Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving (November 2013)

    European Commission – Education and Training – Early School Leaving

  • Sweden plans to scrap Swedish for Immigrants courses for adult education

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on August 25, 2014
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    swedish governmentThe Swedish government wants to put an end to the state-run Swedish for Immigrants courses (SFI), proposing on Tuesday that the courses get taken over by the municipal adult education programme (Komvux) instead.

    “By moving SFI into continuing adult education, it will become easier to adjust Swedish language education to each student and combine the studies with work and internships,” Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag stated in the proposal.

    The government also proposed three different study paths based on the student’s prior knowledge, and the right to choose class times which suit their schedule. Municipalities would be required to offer evening classes – an opportunity currently only offered by about half of Sweden’s municipalities.

    Ullenhag added that dismantling SFI would make it easier to accommodate other educational needs among immigrants to Sweden.

    A doctor with a licence and education from another country would be able to take language classes at the same time as taking supplementary courses to be able to practice in Sweden.

    “Under the current system, if you want to study at college you have to finish SFI first, and then take Swedish as a second language at Komvux,” Ullenhag said. “But with these changes you could start off on the right path from day one.”

    Via The Local 

  • Remember the young ones: Improving career opportunities for Britain’s young people

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on August 25, 2014
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    This report by the Institute of Public Policy Research looks at five critical elements of the school-to-work transition for young people – the role of employers, vocational education, apprenticeships, careers guidance, and the benefits system – and at lessons the UK can learn from European economies with better youth employment records.

    A long period without work at a young age can have a long-lasting effect on a person’s life chances, leading to a higher future likelihood of unemployment and lower future earnings. For this reason, UK policymakers should be particularly worried about the present level of youth unemployment. There are currently 868,000 young people aged 16–24 unemployed in the UK, and 247,000 of them have been looking for work for over a year.

    This is not simply due to the financial crash and recession. While the last six or seven years have been particularly tough for the latest generation of young people, even before the financial crisis many of those entering the labour market for the first time were struggling to compete with older workers for jobs. This suggests that even a full-blown economic recovery is unlikely to solve the problem of youth unemployment in the UK.

    The report makes a series of recommendations to address five critical policy areas, each of which requires a focused response.

    • Employers are dissatisfied with the school-leavers who are applying to them for jobs, but a large part of the problem arises because employers are not prepared to be sufficiently involved in young people’s training to ensure that they develop meaningful, useful skills. The best way to increase employers’ engagement is to have them take a financial stake in the success of the system.
    • Vocational education in England needs to be reformed so that it is held in higher esteem by employers and young people alike. As a pathway into work, higher-level vocational education should be seen as a valid alternative to a university education.
    • Policy on apprenticeships in recent years has been dominated by a preoccupation with quantity, putting quality at risk. Apprenticeships should be seen by students and employers as a high-quality vocational route into work for young people.
    • In those European countries that have low rates of youth unemployment, careers education and guidance play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition from education to work. Our recommendations focus on embedding and resourcing careers advice in schools, particularly at key milestone moments when young people make vital decisions about their future.
    • The current benefits system fails to differentiate between the needs of younger unemployed people and older jobseekers, such as finishing basic education or receiving on-the-job work experience. We propose that a distinct work, training and benefits system should be established for young people.

    Read online

    Via IPPR 

    Read also the McKinsey and Company report Education to employment: Getting Europe’s Youth into Work

  • A quantitative synthesis of the immigrant achievement gap across OECD countries

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on August 6, 2014
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    While existing evidence strongly suggests that immigrant students underperform relative to their native counterparts on measures of mathematics, science, and reading, country-level analyses assessing the homogeneity of the immigrant achievement gap across different factors have not been systematically conducted. Beyond finding a statistically significant average achievement gap, existing findings show considerable variation. The goal of this quantitative synthesis was to analyze effect sizes which compared immigrants to natives on international mathematics, reading, and science examinations.

    Methods

    We used data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). We investigated whether the achievement gap is larger in some content areas than others (among mathematics, science, and reading), across the different types of tests (PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS), across academic grades and age, and whether it has changed across time. Standardized mean differences between immigrant and native students were obtained using data from 2000 to 2009 for current Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

    Results

    Statistically significant weighted mean effect sizes favoured native test takers in mathematics, reading, and science. Effects of moderators differed across content areas.

    Conclusions

    Our analyses have the potential to contribute to the literature about how variation in the immigrant achievement gap relates to different national-level factors.

    By Anabelle Andon, Christopher G Thompson and Betsy J Becker

    Read more via Large-Scale Assessments in Education 

  • Austria: Strache calls to expel folk who won’t integrate

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on August 6, 2014
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    Heinz-Christian Strache, chief of the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), again called for separate school classes for foreigners to learn the German language.

    Furthermore he said that he wanted to limit the number of foreigners in school classes. Immigrants who did not want to integrate, should be expelled, Strache said.

    It was necessary to have preparation classes to learn the German language otherwise it would not be possible to follow regular lessons, he claimed.

    Strache also said that the FPÖ had been proposing such measures for years, such as those which the independent expert for the panel on integration had suggested on Monday.

    The FPÖ had called for a limit of foreign pupils of 30 percent in each classroom in the 1990’s, Strache added.

    However, it was important to discuss measures for the education sector “seriously and objectively”, Strache said.

    Nevertheless he criticised Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) saying he was not really determined to change something.

    Kurz’s proposal to promote more measures for immigrants from EU countries was “obfuscation” according to Strache.

    There were no problems to overcome language barriers for people from the same cultural area, whereas problems still remain with immigrants from Turkey, he said.

    Via The Local – Austria’s news in English 

     

    SIRIUS has organised a number of events dealing with language support to immigrant children. Participants at the thematic workshop held in Lithuania in November 2013 agreed that the key policy elements for effective language support are:

    • Provision of systemic and continuous language support;
    • Necessity to incorporate bilingual teaching and understanding of the influence of heritage language, in both initial teacher training and in service training, for both language and subject teachers;
    • Community involvement is one of the crucial elements of language support policy and major resource, that can bridge lack of funds and human capacities within the school;
    • Parents have to be involved as much as possible and adult education should be connected with schools that have migrant students;
    • Informal education is a powerful tool that has to be promoted by education staff and policy makers, and learning should not be limited to school context.

    Other events dealing with this issue include the stakeholder event held in Brussels in September 2013, the national round table in Estonia in September 2013 and the national round table in Cyprus in October 2013.

  • SIRIUS Newsletter No.13 – July 2014

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on July 18, 2014
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    The SIRIUS Policy Network has published the July edition of its Newsletter. This is a unique source for monthly updates on SIRIUS,  migrant education news, events and good practices.

    If you would like to read the Newsletter, please click here.

    To read previous Newsletters, please click here.

    If you would like to subscribe to the Newsletter, please click here.

  • OECD publishes outcomes of largest international survey on teachers’ professional development and job satisfaction

    By Eva Degler on July 9, 2014
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    The OECD has recently published the 2013 results of the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which asked more than 100,000 teachers and school leaders in lower secondary education in 34 countries about their job satisfaction, working conditions and learning environment in their schools. The study also assesses to what extent pre and in-service training provides teachers with the necessary pedagogical and didactic skills and looks at teachers’ self-reported confidence and attitudes towards teaching.

    Key recommendations and observations of the report include:

    • Governments should develop policies to attract more teachers to disadvantaged schools.
    • Schools should be given more autonomy, yet there also need to be accountability and support mechanisms in place.
    • School leaders have a crucial role to play and need many different skill sets. Therefore, formal initial training should be provided to prepare future school leaders. Additionally, in-service training and exchange with other school leaders needs to be more accessible.
    • New teachers often feel unprepared for certain challenges in the classroom and are uncertain about their capabilities. Induction programs that offer structural support for new teachers, for instance through mentoring schemes or supervision and feedback sessions, can help to support young teachers and increase their teaching capacities.
    • Continuous mentoring and support programs between colleagues have shown to improve student outcomes and teachers’ job satisfaction, yet very few teachers have access to or use such schemes.
    • In-service training should be more accessible and needs to be supported by the school management.
    • Teachers need to be better equipped to handle behavioral problems of students.
    • Teaching still largely takes place in isolation. Teachers should receive more feedback on their teaching from colleagues or the school management and should then be supported to use this feedback for positive change in their teaching styles.
    • Distributed leadership that includes teachers in decision-making processes at a school level should be promoted as it increases job satisfaction and the feeling of self-efficacy among teachers.

    The SIRIUS Focus

    Although the report does not discuss if and how teachers are specifically prepared for multilingual classrooms, many of the recommendations resonate with the outcomes of the SIRIUS stakeholder meeting on teacher training and professional capacity and the meeting of teachers with migrant backgrounds. In June 2014, a group of educational practitioners, researchers and civil society representatives came together to look at the question of teacher training from the perspective of inclusive education and discussed how teachers can be provided with the skills needed in diverse classrooms, such as knowledge about second language learning, intercultural education and social psychology.

    Similarly to the OECD report, they stated that such skills should be fostered by

    • rendering in-service training more accessible.
    • school leaders who encourage or offer professional development.
    • promoting collaborative and open-minded school leadership to enhance professional capacity of teachers and inclusive education.
    • giving teachers more opportunities to exchange experiences among each other.

    Additionally, however, it was noted that teacher training curricula need to adapt to prepare teachers for the needs of a multilingual and multicultural student body. During the meeting the large majority of teachers noted that they often felt left alone with these challenges. Currently, universities do not or only sporadically offer courses on second language learning or intercultural education. Furthermore, they are mostly voluntary and do not form an integral part of the curriculum.

    Interestingly, only 12 percent of teachers state in the OECD survey to have a strong need to develop their skills for teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting (p.109). Similarly, around 16 percent report to have participated in in-service training on how to teach in diverse classrooms in the last 12 months (p.106). The OECD notes that these skills seem to be less important to teachers in Europe, except for Italy where 27 percent of teachers would like to receive additional training in this field. Furthermore, teachers in Latin American countries also wish for more in-service training (46 percent in Brazil and 33 percent in Mexico).

    The OECD survey therefore suggests not only a lack of pre- or in-service training in this field, but also little awareness among many teachers, who do not consider additional training in second language learning and intercultural education as necessary skills to develop.

    Download report

  • Policy recommendations on the mid-term review of the ET2020 strategy

    By Eva Degler on July 7, 2014
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    eucislllEUCIS-LLL, the European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning, has published a position paper on lifelong learning and education. Considering the upcoming mid-term reviews of the EU2020 and ET2020 strategies and subsequent revisions and policy changes, the report urges decision-makers to take on a more comprehensive approach to education.

    According to EUCIS-LLL, education should not be narrowed down to economic needs and employability alone, but needs to be understood in a broader context of social inclusion. This would require the EU to step up their efforts in advancing educational equity, promoting civic, social and intercultural competences and making lifelong learning a reality for all.

    Download report

    Via EUCIS-LLL

  • European Commission report – Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe

    By Eva Degler on July 1, 2014
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    commission

    Early childhood is the stage at which education can most effectively influence children’s development. The European Union therefore wants all young children to be able to access and benefit from high quality education and care. Reliable information on ECEC systems in Europe is essential in order to understand what challenges are facing European countries, what we can learn from each other, and what new solutions might be developed to meet the needs of the youngest members of society.

    The Eurydice Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care report aims to provide insights into what constitutes high quality early childhood education and care through policy-driven and internationally comparable indicators. It is published jointly with Eurostat and combines statistical data and system level information to describe the structure, organisation and funding of early childhood education and care in Europe. This is the second report on the topic, following a 2009 report that focused on tackling social and cultural inequalities through ECEC.

    The main findings of the report highlight a number of issues of particular interest to policy-makers and refer readers to the specific indicators where detailed information can be found. These issues include access to ECEC; participation; governance; funding and affordability; professionalisation of staff; leadership; parental involvement; and, to conclude, the provision of targeted support for disadvantaged children.

    Download report
    Press release

    Via European Commission

  • SIRIUS Newsletter No.12 – June 2014

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on June 27, 2014
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    The SIRIUS Policy Network has published the June edition of its Newsletter. This is a unique source for monthly updates on SIRIUS,  migrant education news, events, good practices, and policy developments.

    The SIRIUS Event Reports and Policy Outreach summaries are the highlight of this month’s SIRIUS news.

    If you would like to read the Newsletter, please click here.

    To read previous Newsletters, please click here.

    If you would like to subscribe to the Newsletter, please click here.

  • Overview of the Dutch education model

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on June 10, 2014
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    In 1985, the Dutch integrated their pre-school system with their primary schools, so that both functions are now carried on in the public schools.  Though education is compulsory for students from the ages of 5 to 16, 99% of four-year-olds attend school in the Netherlands.  There are no defined school catchment areas in the Netherlands, so parents may enroll their children in any primary school they wish.  Though schools affiliated with religions can refuse students who do not subscribe to their beliefs, in practice, they typically accept students from many religions and no religion, though, if the schools are oversubscribed, they typically take children from the neighborhood first, and the siblings of students already at the school and the best schools have big waiting lists.

    The secondary school system in the Netherlands is organized very differently than the primary sector.  Whereas primary school students can go to any school they like, students can only go to secondary schools that will accept them, and the secondary schools can establish their own entrance requirements.  In general, the decision as to where students will apply is made on the recommendation of the primary school teachers and is based partly on the student’s performance on the primary school leaving exams developed by the National Institute for Educational Measurement (Cito).  These exams are not mandated by the state, but they are produced under the auspices of the state and are taken by the vast majority of the students (92%) because most secondary schools require them.  The structure of the secondary system is defined by the state. There are three main streams in the secondary education system, and, within these streams, there are further divisions.  Roughly speaking, the three streams are the academic or university prep track, the general track, and the vocational track.  There are separate schools within the second and third of these streams, typically corresponding to the occupations that students wish to enter and the mix of theoretical and practical studies they want to pursue.  Each of these streams also culminates in examinations which result in qualifications to go on to further education or to begin a career, for those who succeed.

    Though schools have considerable freedom to decide how to teach, the state does define what they must teach, in the form of attainment targets for the schools in each of the subject matter areas.  The Dutch Inspectorate is charged with inspecting schools on a regular schedule to make sure that the schools’ funds are being spent appropriately, the curriculum is in place and the attainment targets are being met. In the Dutch system, the schools are responsible for hiring teachers, but teachers’ compensation and working conditions are set by national negotiations between the government and the teachers union.  The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is responsible for setting the standards for entrance into the teacher education institutions, for the curriculum of those institutions and for teacher licensure, thereby giving it substantial control over the quality of teachers in the Netherlands.

    For a long time, the right of parents to choose freely among schools operated by non-governmental agencies did not result in substantial segregation of Dutch schools by social class or ethnicity.  Each of the major sponsors of schools took in members of their own belief group from many social classes and the vast majority of students came from a Dutch background.  But, in the 70s and 80s, that changed.  As the Dutch economy boomed, large numbers of people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds came to the Netherlands from the former Dutch colonies and many others were recruited as guest workers from Turkey and Morocco, and they stayed.

    Many Dutch parents, apparently deciding that their children would be more likely to get a better education in schools populated by children from better educated families, chose schools that answered to that description, leaving behind what have come to be called “Black schools,” populated by students who, though they have the right to move to other primary schools, often cannot do so or do not wish to do so.  Similarly, teachers getting offers from multiple schools have often chosen to teach in the more affluent schools, making it difficult for the “Black schools” to find qualified teachers.  The strong commitment of the Dutch to choice has made it very difficult for them to deal with this issue.

    One of the paradoxes of the Dutch system is the contrast between the secularization of the society as a whole (like much of Northern Europe, rates of churchgoing in the Netherlands is very low) and the persistence of a system in which religious organizations operate a large share of the public schools.  Dutch researchers speculate that some parents use the availability of religious schools to avoid having to send their children to schools with significant populations of immigrant children, or because the better teachers decide to accept offers from schools serving the children of better-educated parents because they are easier to teach and to take advantage of the smaller class sizes and less bureaucratic environment they find there.

    We come now to the question as to why the Dutch have placed in the top ranks of the world’s education league tables since the data on which those tables have been constructed was first collected.  We take the answer to that question to rest on the following:

    • the very high level of support for young children in the Netherlands;
    • the willingness of the Dutch to provide substantially more financial support to schools serving poor and minority children than to others;
    • the high standards set by the government for student attainment and the effectiveness of the Dutch accountability system with respect to those standards;
    • the almost legendary effectiveness of the Dutch approach to mathematics teaching;
    • a system of pathways through secondary education that does an unusually good job of matching student learning styles and personal preferences to available education program options and motivates students to work hard in school by assuring them that there will be jobs for them if they do so;
    • and, finally, the Dutch system for assuring teacher quality.

    Read more about each of these points in detail…

    Further reading:

    Via Centre on International Education Benchmarking 

  • Preventing early school leaving – Lessons learned from second chance education

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on June 5, 2014
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    A new study carried out for the European Commission shows success features of second chance schemes that could inspire mainstream education and training.

    Too many young people leave education and training prematurely, before achieving upper secondary qualification. Many of them have gone through daunting experiences of failing at school and trying to cope without qualification. Second chance education in Europe is often successful in helping those young people by taking a different approach to learning. A new study carried out for the European Commission shows success factors of second chance schemes. It examines how second chance education can rekindle motivation and confidence in young people to continue and successfully complete education or training, and looks at ways how mainstream education could benefit from these experiences to prevent early school leaving.

    The findings of the study help identify the most important elements to improve equity and quality in school education and to prevent early school leaving at the level of individual schools. They can help schools to improve their work and can support them to better organise teaching and learning.

    SIRIUS will attend a conference organised by DG Education and Culture entitled “Gimme just a chance! What lessons can we learn from second chance education?” on 10th June where the results of the study will be presented.

    Download Report

    Via European Commission 

  • Child Rights Manifesto

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on June 4, 2014
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    14 International and European child rights organisations have developed a Manifesto for Child Rights. Their objective is currently to encourage Members of the European Parliament to become Child Rights Champions and get the European Parliament to stand up for the interests of children in every aspect of its work.

    Why?

    • Around 100 million children live in the European Union. And children make up half the population developing countries.
    • Their lives are affected daily by EU policies, law-making and actions.
    • All EU Member States signed the UN Child Rights Convention (UNCRC) and therefore have to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of every child within their borders.
    • The Lisbon Treaty makes the promotion of children’s rights an explicit objective for the European Union.
    • And the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights requires that the best interests of the child is a primary consideration in all EU action.

    Vision: Realising the rights of every child everywhere!

    • Ensuring that every child can exercise the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
    • Treating every child first and foremost as a child, irrespective of social or ethnic background, gender, ability or migration status.
    • Recognising the value of children’s own views and experience, and enabling them to participate meaningfully in all decisions affecting their lives.
    • Addressing the root causes of child rights violations by tackling poverty, discrimination and social exclusion and protecting against violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.
    • Investing in early childhood, health care, quality education as well as community-based care and rehabilitation services.
    • Ensuring that children grow up in stable, secure and caring relationships by supporting families and caregivers.
    • Providing inter-sectorial, integrated and child-focused responses to address the individual and collective needs of children.
    • Taking a long-term view and assessing the impact of our decisions today for future generations.

    Manifesto
    Website 

    Twitter: @childmanifesto

  • Immigrant integration: school failures and successes

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on May 13, 2014
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    Europe has long cherished the illusion of immigration as a transient phenomenon. In this vision, common especially – but not only – in central Europe, immigrants were Gastarbeiter, individuals who came to work for a limited period of time and would eventually make their way back to their families and homelands. However, reality turned out to be rather different: immigrants settled down, tried to reunite with their families, and claimed their social and political rights. In short, as pointed out by Max Frisch, “We wanted workers, we got people.” Only when this disenchantment became apparent did European societies begin to adjust their institutional settings to the new reality, a process that is still ongoing.

    Suddenly, the lack of integration of children of immigrants, who arrived in the host society at a very young age or were even born there, became a hot topic in public debates. Many expectations are now directed towards the educational system, which could boost future life chances of second-generation immigrants, while indirectly fostering the social and cultural integration of their parents. Moreover, investing in education could be an effective and efficient strategy to prevent future social risks, as advocated by the social investment paradigm developed by Anthony Giddens and Gøsta Esping-Andersen. Yet education is a double–edged sword: on the one hand, it is a crucial precondition for upward social mobility, because through development of skills individuals can enhance their social position; on the other hand, it legitimises the reproduction of social inequalities, since children with a favourable family background are more likely to gain access to high educational levels to and successfully complete them.

    Indeed, European educational systems have so far missed the chance to empower children of immigrants by ensuring equal learning opportunities. In all Western European countries, students of immigrant origin generally lag behind their native peers in terms of years of education completed, kind of qualification attained, and competences acquired in the basic domains of mathematics, reading and science. They are also more likely to drop out from school, to repeat a year, and to end up in less prestigious school types. Children who were born in the host societies from immigrant parents tend to perform better than those who have personally experienced immigration; however, the latter do better if they have arrived in the host society early in their lives. Hence, a partial and gradual integration process seems to be in place. Nevertheless, the persistence of a disadvantage for second-generation immigrants – born, socialised and educated in the destination country – clashes with the image of school as an institutional setting providing equal learning chances to all.

    While immigrant/native gaps exist in all Western European countries, the size of these gaps is variable: hence, all educational systems are unequal, but some are more unequal than others. In order to understand which institutional aspects of the European educational systems are especially detrimental to the progression of students of immigrant origin, one has to retrace the sources of their initial disadvantage. Since immigrants are overrepresented in the least privileged strata of the population, traditional mechanisms of social stratification account for much of the immigrant learning disadvantage: fewer material and educational resources at home make it more difficult for students of lower socio-economic background to attain good results in school; when parents themselves attained only low education, they may lack the skills and/or the inclination to help their children with homework; moreover, the value conferred to education varies across social classes, just like the opportunity costs associated with delaying entry into the labour market: hence, an early disengagement can emerge among pupils who know they will not stay long in school.

    However, the disadvantage that migrants face in learning is only partially explained by the lower socio-economic background of immigrant families. In other words, there is a migrant-specific penalty hindering the educational careers of first- and second-generation immigrants, not only compared to the typical native students, but also to those natives who have access to a limited amount of resources within their families. Behind migrant-specific educational penalties we can envisage first of all a lack of language skills in the destination-country language: while mainly relevant for students who migrate at school age, this factor can also affect the performance of children of immigrants born in the country or arrived at very young age, if they had limited chances of interaction with native peers during early childhood.

    In effect, the late start of compulsory schooling could explain the apparent paradox of some Scandinavian countries, where the comprehensive character of primary and lower-secondary schooling is able to reduce the educational inequalities driven by social class, but not so much those driven by migratory status. Interestingly enough, in Sweden, Denmark and Finland – where compulsory schooling starts at the age of seven – pupils of immigrant origin experience far greater learning difficulties than in Norway, where school is already compulsory at the age of six. Access to early education and care might be equally important for the cognitive development of immigrant children: in France, where attendance at an école maternelle is almost universal, migrant-specific educational penalties are considerably lower than in the French-speaking cantons of Switzerland, where fewer than 40 per cent of children are enrolled in preschool.

    A second hindrance to the academic success of immigrant students derives from the fact that in many cases their parents have a limited knowledge of how the host-country educational system works, and more generally on what are its implicit values, cultural norms and expectations. Therefore, educational systems where choices are crucial for school progression are likely to exacerbate immigrant/native gaps. In particular, the early selection of students into rigid tracks with differentiated curricula can be detrimental, because the earlier the choice takes place, the more important the guidance role played by families in decision making.

    In Germany and Austria – where students choose between academically-oriented and vocationally-oriented tracks by the age of ten – immigrants are overwhelmingly concentrated in marginal sectors of the school system. In these marginal schools, the initial disadvantage deriving from migratory status is exacerbated by the exposure to a lower-quality learning environment, in terms of peers, teaching staff and educational resources. Not surprisingly, in Germany and Austria large differences in educational achievement also exist between students of different socio-economic background: just like children of immigrants, children coming from low-educated families are penalised by the early selectivity of these systems.

    Yet where residential segregation is an issue, immigrant students may be marginalized into disadvantaged schools even before any kind of selection into tracks occurs. In Sweden and Denmark, for instance, during primary schooling immigrant children are already four times more likely than natives to be enrolled in the lowest-performing schools. Despite the concerns of public opinion, many studies conducted in the US and in Europe show that schools with high proportions of immigrants are not detrimental per se to the academic performance of their students. Instead what seems to matter is the socio-economic composition of the school, as well as the human and financial resources of these “ghetto” schools.

    With the exception of few praiseworthy cases, the best teachers are the first to escape troublesome schools, because it is possible for them to do so. While most parents would perceive those schools as problematic, only those with sufficient time, economic and informational resources will eventually succeed in sending their kids elsewhere, which contributes to making the disadvantaged schools even more marginal. Therefore, if immigrant families are heavily concentrated in poor neighbourhoods, their children will most likely be exposed to a low-quality learning environment.

    What do we make of this evidence from a policy-making perspective? Each educational system can be seen as a complex constellation of elements, embedded in a social and historical context. Hence, the attempt to identify a one-size-fits-all recipe to grant equal learning opportunities to immigrant children is a wild goose chase. However, three main lessons can be drawn from the empirical research on migrant learning disadvantage. First of all, in order to tackle the initial language difficulties experienced by immigrant children, educational systems should be designed in a way to include them as soon as possible and to facilitate their interactions with native peers.

    This can be done either by lowering the age that compulsory schooling should start, or by providing accessible and good-quality preschool facilities, thus promoting the participation of both native and immigrant children. Second, differentiated educational systems should postpone the moment when students chose between tracks, and improve institutional counselling in order to bridge the informational gap of immigrant families. Moreover, in order to avoid the marginalisation of students who have opted for vocational tracks, one should make sure that in these tracks curricula and teaching staff are of adequate quality standards. The third and final point concerns countries where residential segregation produces a disproportionate concentration of disadvantaged students in some schools. In order to minimise the risk of a vicious circle, career incentives could be provided to the most qualified and motivated teachers to stay in these otherwise marginal schools. Also, additional resources should be made available for such schools, enabling them to offer their students remedial courses and supplementary educational materials.

    As the French experience of Zones d’Education Prioritaire shows, when designing such compensatory measures, policy-makers should be careful not to create a stigma against targeted schools. However, in spite of the harsh critiques directed towards this model, when looking at educational gaps between students of immigrant and native origin, the ZEPs do not seem to be a complete failure. On the contrary, France is one of the few Western European countries – together with the UK and Luxembourg – where immigrant students fare nearly as well as their native peers with similar socio-economic resources. These experiences show that – although the road to a full integration of second-generation immigrants in Europe is still a long one – improving the egalitarian character of national educational systems is not a chimera.

    Author: Camilla Borgna

    Further readings: 

    Via Eutopia

  • SIRIUS Newsletter No.10 – April 2014

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on April 22, 2014
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    The SIRIUS Policy Network has published the April edition of its Newsletter. This is a unique source for monthly updates on SIRIUS,  migrant education news, events, good practices, and policy developments.

    The April edition outlines a number of recent reports, upcoming events, relevant news items and the latest interviews for The Immigrant Contribution.

    If you would like to read the Newsletter, please click here.

    To read previous Newsletters, please click here.

    If you would like to subscribe to the Newsletter, please click here.

  • French teachers talk about problems of racism and violence in schools

    By Eva Degler on April 22, 2014
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    A report published by the Reseau national de lutte contre les discriminations a l’ecolelogo highlights the problems teachers face in a French elementary school with regards to racism and segregation. The report also draws attention to the fact that teachers do not feel adequately prepared in their pre-service training to respond to these challenges.

  • Irish Government launches ‘Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020′

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on April 17, 2014
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    Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, has today been joined by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and An Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD to launch ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 -2020’. The launch event took place in Dublin Castle.

    ‘Better Outcomes: Brighter Futures’ is the first overarching national policy framework for children and young people aged from birth to 24 years and will be implemented by the Department of Children and Young Affairs in collaboration with all Government departments and key State agencies.

    The Minister said that “our children are our present joy and future wealth” and added that she saw this Framework as representing this Government’s ‘Action Plan for Children’.

    The Minister added that ‘Better Outcomes: Brighter Futures’ is built on the Government’s Medium-Term ‘Strategy for Growth’ which recognised that our increasing child and youth population is a significant resource for our country; and further recognised that ensuring the best possible outcomes for this group is therefore an important element in our future economic planning.

    The vision of the Framework is to work towards achieving five Outcomes identified as most important for children and young people in Ireland. The Government has committed to working towards these through a series of actions, described as key transformational goals.  These goals will underpin the implementation of the Framework and will be a key element of its success.

    Addressing the launch Minister Fitzgerald stated that the challenge now for Government and society was one of “changing our viewpoint, from looking back and responding – to looking forward and planning. It’s the challenge of moving on from addressing the legacy of failings to promoting a culture and cross-government approach to improving outcomes for all children.”

    “This Framework outlines what we, across Government, aspire to; and what we demand, as the best outcomes for children and young people.  It sets-out the six big transformational goals and the new implementation structures through which Government departments can work together to achieve these outcomes and be accountable for progress.  This Framework represents a comprehensive outline of every one of every Government Department’s goals, commitments and responsibilities to children and young people.”

    The Minister noted that the Framework included over 160 commitments in total:

    •    From focusing on early interventions and quality services to promote best outcomes for children, particularly in the vitally-important early years;

    •    To working better together to protect young people who are marginalised, at-risk or who demonstrate challenging or high-risk behaviour;

    •    To setting a target of lifting 70,000 children out of poverty by 2020;

    •    To improving childhood health & wellbeing in line with goals of ‘Healthy Ireland’;

    •    To enhancing job opportunities for young people – building on the ‘Action Plan for Jobs’ and Youth Guarantee ;

    •    To delivering better supports for families and parenting.

    The Minister acknowledged the real and express commitment of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste; and indeed all government Ministers to work together across the whole-of-Government to improve outcomes for all children.

    Minister Fitzgerald explained that the Framework incorporated a dynamic new whole-of-government implementation structure headed by her own Department of Children & Youth Affairs.  This new implementation structure tasked with ensuring there is ‘joined-up-thinking’ on children and young people will report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy, which is chaired by an Taoiseach.

    A copy of the policy is available at www.dcya.gov.ie

    ‘Brighter Futures, Better Outcomes’ establishes a shared set of outcomes for children and young people to which all government departments, agencies, statutory services and the voluntary and community sectors work, to ensure a coherent response for children and young people.

    These outcomes are:

    •    Active and healthy, with positive physical and mental wellbeing.

    •    Achieving their full potential in all areas of learning and development.

    •    Safe and protected from harm.

    •    Economic security and opportunity.

    •    Connected, respected and contributing to their world.

    ‘Brighter Futures, Better Outcomes’ prioritizes the key cross-cutting transformational goals which require concerted and coordinated action to ensure the realization of the respective outcomes:

    •    Supporting parents,

    •    Earlier intervention and prevention,

    •    Listening to and involving children and young people,

    •    Ensuring quality services,

    •    Strengthening transitions,

    •    Collaboration and coordination across government.

    In line with both the outcomes and transformational goals, ‘Brighter Futures, Better Outcomes’ identifies a range of 166 commitments.

    Department of Children and Youth Affairs

  • European Study on Education and Training of History and Civic Education Teachers: Dealing with diversity and racism

    By Sarah Cooke O'Dowd on April 11, 2014
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    The University of Vienna coordinated the European study, The Education and Training of History and Civic Education of Teachers in Europe – A Comparative Study”. For 33 countries of the European Higher Education Area, the curricula for the training of teachers in the central historical and political subjects (history, social studies, civic orientation and political education) were examined in detail. Results show that central skills such as dealing with cultural and linguistic diversity, the development of multicultural approaches to history, the development of cross-cultural comparisons of historical or critical way of dealing with racism and xenophobia are rarely described as explicit objectives of the training curricula. Further information (in German) from the Universität Wien

    Source: European Website on Integration

  • Danish school with only bilingual students is likely to be closed

    By Eva Degler on April 2, 2014
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    Tovshøjskolen in Aarhus

    Tovshøjskolen in Aarhus

    Tovshøjskolen, a school in the municipality of Aarhus, is Denmark’s only school without native Danish pupils. All 300 students are of immigrant descent and grew up bilingually. Now, both education experts and politicians call for closing the school as they see such high concentrations of ethnic minority pupils as an obstacle to integration and school performance.

    School concentration in Aarhus is widespread as pupils and parents are allowed to choose schools freely. Pupils do, however, have to pass an entry exam that tests their Danish skills. According to Tovshøjskolen’s principal, many pupils at his school were among those scoring lowest. In addition, the school is located in a disadvantaged neighbourhood. Politicians on local and national level therefore advocate for closing the school and distributing pupils across other schools in the municipality.

    Via Politiken