The role of initial teacher education
Although the cultural, linguistic and religious diversity found in European societies is not a new phenomenon, its nature is rapidly changing. Europe is becoming increasingly diverse due to intra-European mobility, international migration, including recently an increased influx of refugees and asylum-seekers. These societal changes create both opportunities and challenges for schools, and education systems need to adapt accordingly. At the same time, recent studies show that intolerance and social exclusion are growing, with some groups feeling alienated and marginalised. These phenomena place specific demands on schools and teachers, calling them to re-consider their everyday practices and strategies to meet the learning needs of their diverse pupil populations. The evidence demonstrates that despite the increasing heterogeneity of European classrooms, the teaching population remains largely homogenous and feels illprepared to teach students from diverse socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Education systems need to make sure that initial teacher education (ITE) and continuous professional development (CPD) opportunities effectively equip teachers with the relevant intercultural competences, linguistically responsive teaching competences and ability to reflect on their own beliefs, cultural and socioeconomic differences. There is an increasing need to challenge the current negative perceptions of diversity, shifting towards recognising and multiplying its benefits. This study has helped to consolidate existing knowledge across Europe and beyond, and to gather new evidence on the way student teachers are prepared for diversity in the classroom and to teach about diversity in society.
Download the position paper here: Preparing teachers for diversity