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Students with different mother tongue in Estonian schools: attention, awareness and support at school level (National Round Table in Tallinn)

On the 26th of September, school professionals, policy-makers, researchers, representatives on NGOs and foundations gathered in Tallinn European School for a roundtable discussion on education for students with different mother tongue in Estonian schools.

The Estonian National Round Table aimed to:

  • Provide an overview of the situation among students whose mother tongue is other than Estonian;
  • Discuss how to improve the school professionals´ awareness and ability to work with migrant students;
  • Reflect on the necessary components and competencies that work well and which of them are missing in the current situation.

The presentations included presenting results from several longitudinal studies on students with different mother tongue and school effectiveness in Estonia by professor Aaro Toomela (University of Tallinn), presentation on the most recent research on new migrant students in Estonia by Liis Kasemets (Mind Park), presenting the state of the art and current policy perspectives related to students with migrant background by Irene Käosaar (Estonian Ministry of Education and Research) and SIRIUS presentation by Claudia Koehler.

From a successful dialogue between practitioners, policy makers and researchers emerged that teachers´ in-service training needs systematic central regulation and coherent approach to ensure quality, effectiveness and efficiency. Cooperation between all levels – school professionals, schools, local governments, countries – is necessary to improve the high quality in support for students with migrant background. It was suggested that schools with extensive experience with students whose mother tongue is different than Estonian can design a training model to provide support for colleagues facing the same challenge. Research results demonstrate that it is important for school professionals to pay attention not only for special education needs in terms of language acquisition and migrant background, but individual differences among students. Researchers and school professionals have to exchange information to be able to implement up-to-date study results. Suggestions that emerged from the Estonian round table discussion will be sent to all participants, Ministry of Education and Research and will be available on Praxis website:  There was a remarkable media interest in the event and topic.

The event was organised by Praxis in close cooperation with the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research and SIRIUS network support.

Eve Mägi,

Praxis Center for Policy Studies


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