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Study on educational support for newly arrived migrant children

Final report

Net migration to Europe has tripled since 1960. Some countries have long histories of immigration; others have experienced an unprecedented increase in the last decade. Immigration is a global phenomenon, but there are large variations among countries in the size of migrant flows and the ethnic profile of immigrants. Teaching immigrant students is becoming an important part of reality in an increasing number of European schools. E.g. in 2009/2010 academic year there were 17.6% of students with the first language other than German registered in Austrian schools; in Flanders the number of NAMS enrolled in primary education has doubled in three academic years (since 2006/2007 to 2009/2010); in Greece the percentage of ‘other-language’ students in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools for the school year 2010-11 has risen to 12%, while it used to be 7.3% in 2006-07. Policy makers, local communities and schools face urgent questions on how to better accommodate the needs of this category of students through education policies and practices. Moreover, migrant children have a diversity of backgrounds and needs, which require flexible and inclusive approaches.

Newly arrived migrant students (further - NAMS) are a new target group that has not yet been explicitly identified and defined within EU policy-making and that of many
European countries. NAMS are included in some of the large scale survey samples (PISA, Thomas and Collier’s), but they are not always differentiated from the native born second generation immigrants. Often they are put into a broader category of “students with migrant background”. Although NAMS do share some characteristics with second-generation immigrant children and may encounter some of the same challenges at school, in many ways they are in a more precarious situation.

With some exceptions, NAMS, on average, have weaker education outcomes at all levels of education. They often have more restricted access to quality education, are
less likely to participate in pre-primary education, more prone to drop out before completing upper secondary education, more likely to have lower academic scores and to attend schools that mainly serve students with less advantaged social backgrounds. In 2010 there were 25.9% of foreign born students dropped out from education and training against 13% of native ones3 and PISA surveys confirms the lower achievement of first-generation immigrants compared to native students (the average score difference in OECD countries in 2009 was 50 points). This requires new policy approaches from the governments and the adaptation of education systems.