Teacher Training and Professional Capacity – Stakeholder meeting report

Participants of workshop for migrant teachers

On Thursday, 5th June 2014, Migration Policy Group hosted a SIRIUS stakeholder meeting on the topic of teacher training and professional capacity. This meeting followed on from a 1 ½ day meeting of migrant teachers where they discussed both important skill sets and policy recommendations on how to better equip teachers for diverse classrooms.

The stakeholder meeting brought together these teachers with a migration background, other educational practitioners and school leaders as well as researchers, policy makers and civil society organisations to discuss skills that teachers need in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. In addition, a focus was put on how teachers are prepared in teacher training institutions and supported during their career.

The meeting was opened by Sarah Cooke O’Dowd from the Migration Policy Group welcoming a group of about 30 participants. Eva Degler, also from the Migration Policy Group, continued by giving a short overview about the contents of capacity training, best practices and the role of the EU in enhancing teacher training (See Presentation).

Sabine Severiens

Sabine Severiens from the Erasmus University Rotterdam then presented recommendations from her research on professional capacities and areas of expertise together with the migrant teachers who shared their successful strategies and gave insights into their professional experiences (See Presentation). The SIRIUS Report on Building Professional Capacity concerning the educational position of migrant children had originally identified five main areas of expertise necessary for the professional capacity of teachers in diverse classrooms (language diversity, didactics, social psychology and identity development, parental involvement and school-community relationships). During the teacher meeting, they had also identified the need for additional space in the curriculum, training/familiarity with the development of migration history, diagnostic tests and the effectively utilising school surroundings as additional desired expertise.  It was striking that hardly any of the teachers present had received initial training. Moreover, it was left to their own initiative to attend in-service training and bring up issues of inclusive education in their schools.

Piet van Avermaet from the University of Ghent and the Centre for Diversity and Learning then spoke about how to respond to diversity in education, focussing on the role of multilingualism, teachers’ expectations of immigrant pupils and the challenge of rendering diversity a core issue for policy making in education (See Presentation).

DSCN4350The last hour of the meeting was spent discussing parental and community involvement, different strategies for second language learning and the positive impact of collaborative and open-minded school leadership. Centres of expertise should be developed in schools that include interdisciplinary teams which support each other and thus increase the capacity of the whole school. These centres would include teachers, psychologists, guidance councillors etc. This would supply vital support to teachers who agreed that, at present, they are largely left alone in responding to the needs of diverse learners. Making second language learning and intercultural education an integral part of teacher training curricula was also considered crucial. At present, universities across Europe do not or only sporadically offer such training modules. Ideally, such training should become a transversal issue that is woven through all levels of teacher training. In addition, more in-service training programmes should be offered and school leaders should strongly encourage professional development in this field. Lastly, a number of participants remarked that many projects are still incidental and very rarely evaluated, which renders impact assessment and informed policy-making difficult. Furthermore, their funding often means that they have support for only a limited period of time. Structural support for good practices is necessary to make them sustainable.

Meeting Report, Programme and Participants

Background Teacher training and professional capacity

The Italian Partido Democratico launches a pilot project on integration in schools

The local division of the Partido Democratico in Caserta, Italy, has launched the pilot project “Figli d’Italia” (Children of Italy) in three schools that will teach both migrant and native pupils how to deal with socio-economic and cultural differences in the classroom. In addition, the project aims at raising awareness about discrimination against migrants in Italy.

Via interno18

SIRIUS underlines the importance of migrant education for improved cultural Integration in Europe

The cultural integration of migrants and minorities in European societies is task and process in everyday life. Nonetheless, in European political debates it is commonly assigned a low priority compared to the political and economic dimensions of the issue.

Speakers at ifa conference on Migration and Cultural Integration in Europe
Speakers at ifa conference on Migration and Cultural Integration in Europe

On 11 December 2013, ifa (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) organised a conference on “Migration and Cultural Integration in Europe”, bringing together the heads and representatives of the network of European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) with researchers and practitioners from diverse backgrounds at the Representation of the State of Baden-Wurttemberg to the European Union in Brussels to explore the meanings of cultural integration.

SIRIUS Communications Manager Sarah Cooke O’Dowd spoke on the first panel “New perspectives on the Cultural Integration of Migrants”, highlighting the importance of intercultural education. According to the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), education is a major area of weakness in the integration policies of all but a few countries.

“Migrant pupils may be struggling in school for different reasons than their peers. Schools retain wide discretion on whether or not to address the specific needs of migrant pupils, their teachers and parents, and monitor the results. Without clear requirements or entitlements, pupils do not get the support they need throughout their school career and across the country, especially in communities with many immigrants or few resources. Migrants are entitled to support to learn the language, but frequently it is not held to the same standard as the rest of the curriculum. Hardly any countries have systems to diversify schools or the teaching staff; most schools are therefore missing out on new opportunities brought by a diverse student body.” (MIPEX III 2010)

SIRIUS speechOne of SIRIUS’ main tasks is to overcome this weakness. In this instance, the SIRIUS focus on citizenship education and multilingualism in particular were highlighted.

Summarising the SIRIUS study on citizenship education and ethnic and social diversity, across Europe there is a wide spectrum of citizenship education models ranging from assimilationist to integration and inclusion, which are based on the priority that each country gives to diversity in its education curriculum. SIRIUS works towards an inclusion model that encourages schools to become a space that welcomes all the differences, and consider diversity as a richness that constitutes a relevant aspect of the curriculum and teaching methods.

Following on from the stakeholder meeting on multilingualism that was held in Brussels in September 2013, the European institutions plea for trilingualism was supported as a good way to develop language learning for students with a migrant background. They should be encouraged and supported in their learning of the official language of the country/region, another major language such as English and a language of personal adoption (their mother tongue).

The upcoming stakeholder meeting on increasing the representation of people with a migrant background in education and the recent SIRIUS reports on building professional capacity and parental involvement show further examples of SIRIUS efforts to tackle the weaknesses in education highlighted by the Migrant Integration Policy Index.

ifa report front coverConference Report

Conference programme

MPG Presentation

Compass: the manual on human rights education with young people

compass_manualCOMPASS is a manual that provides young people with opportunities to understand and speak about human rights. It also provides youth leaders, teachers, educators, professionals and volunteers with concrete ideas to motivate, engage and involve young people to take action for human rights in their own way, in their own community. Originally published in May 2002, it was produced within the framework of the Human Rights Education Youth Programme of the Directorate of Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe, which was launched in 2000 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. The programme aims to put human rights at the centre of youth work and thereby to contribute to the bringing of human rights education into the mainstream. Over 10 years on, this objective is as valid today as it was then.

Human rights education – meaning educational programmes and activities that focus on promoting equality in human dignity – is of incalculable value in shaping a European dimension of citizenship meaningful to all Europeans. Developed in conjunction with other programmes of the Directorate in Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe – intercultural learning, participation, empowerment of minorities and of young people from minority backgrounds – human rights education has the potential to be a catalyst for action and a source of synergies. Those involved in non-formal education in youth work should be able to consider the evolution, practice and challenges of human rights, with regard to their universality, indivisibility and inalienability, and what these mean to the young people of today.

The Directorate of Youth and Sport, especially through the European Youth Centres and the European Youth Foundation, has acquired an undisputed reputation for expertise in developing educational approaches and materials suitable for use both in formal and non-formal contexts as well as in different cultural environments. Its work with multipliers, the impact of projects such as the “all different – all equal” youth campaign, and its long-term training programme have all contributed to the development of projects that make their impact first and foremost at grass-roots level while being pre-eminently European.

This manual does not provide solutions. There are no ready-made solutions to poverty, discrimination, violence or intolerance. It does not contain answers to all questions about human rights either. What the manual does provide is an opportunity for those venturing into human rights education to explore these themes in a manner that is creative, involves young people and is, in itself, human rights education.

Table of contents

  • Chapter 1: Familiarises the reader with what we mean by human rights education. It should motivate, inspire and introduce the reader on how to get the best out of COMPASS and its educational approaches,
  • Chapter 2: A collection of 49 activities of different levels of complexity, which cover different themes and address different types of rights, Cross-referencing is given to relevant follow-up activities in Alien 93 DOmino and the Education Pack.
  • Chapter 3: “Taking action”, contains ideas and tips for those that would like to be more active in promoting human rights,
  • Chapter 4: Provides essential information about human rights and international standards and documents,
  • Chapter 5: Supplementary background information about the themes,
  • The appendices: Contain essential information on legal documents, because human rights are also about laws.

Via Council of Europe – COMPASS