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

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)

Teacher training programs in the UK discriminate against students of immigrant descent

Via The GuardianAn annual statistical report on post-graduate teacher training shows that students with a migration background are much less likely to be accepted as trainee teachers. Only 17 percent of black African and 29 percent of Black Caribbean applicants were successful, compared to a 47 percent acceptance rate of white candidates. In addition, the report demonstrates that numbers of minority applicants are already much lower; 30 students of African descent applied for a postgraduate degree in teaching history compared to more than 500 white applicants. The report has sparked criticism about institutional racism in British schools and universities, urging the Department of Education to rethink its current practices in teacher training and recruitment.

Via The Guardian

Sweden: How to support inclusive education in a school where 99% of students are descendants of immigrants


99 percent of the 800 students at the school Ronnaskolan in Södertälje, a city southwest of Stockholm, are pupils with a migrant background. With most of them born in Syria and Iraq, the numbers of new arrivals remain high: at least one fifth of the students has been living in Sweden for less than two years. A situation that can easily exceed school capacities, especially when considering that many pupils do not speak Swedish when arriving at school, have experienced war and expulsion in their country of origin or come from a low socio-economic background. Despite these challenges, Ronnaskolan has been remarkably successful in preparing its students for secondary education and providing quality education.

Principal Lina Axelsson Kihlblom has recently shared her vision of inclusive education in an interview with Lärarnas Nyheter, a Swedish magazine on education. When she started working for the school, only about half of the pupils were able to transition to secondary education, which in Sweden starts in grade 10. Two years later, already 76 percent of pupils had the sufficient grades to move up to higher education. Asked how such an “at risk” student population can perform that well, the prinicpal explained how the school was able to steadily improve their educational outcomes.

According to Axelsson Kihlblom, this process begins with defining concrete goals and having a clear idea of what the school should look like in the future. Convinced about the value of learning with and from each other, they stopped putting newly arrived students in a separate preparatory class. Instead, everyone is taught together in the same classroom to avoid segregation from the start. Newly arrived children then also follow one full day of learning Swedish as a second language. Although it does slow down teaching sometimes, Axelsson Kihlblom assures that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks; it sends a strong message that every student is equally valuable and that the school has high expectations and confidence in their newcomers. To ensure that slower learners receive the support they need without at the same time under-challenging other pupils, Ronnaskolan has introduced a two-teacher model. This means that in most classes two teachers are present to respond to the different needs of pupils. In addition, the school offers individual support for underperforming pupils. In regular meetings with both the student and his or her parents, teachers discuss the pupil’s goals and jointly work on a step-by-step plan on how to achieve them. Apart from closely involving parents, the school is also cooperating with the municipality, health care facilities and social services. Furthermore, the school has been working towards diversifying their staff and mostly employs teachers with a migrant background themselves.

A remarkable example of how to reach out to different stakeholders and jointly work towards advancing education for migrant children in Sweden.

Via Lärarnas Nyheter

France: Ecole privée – le décret sur les étrangers levé

Le Conseil d’Etat a ordonné le 19 november au ministère de l’Education nationale de rouvrir le concours de l’enseignement privé pour permettre à des candidats étrangers d’y participer. Le ministère avait publié le 23 août un décret qui fixe de nouvelles règles de recrutement et de formation pour les enseignants des écoles privées sous contrat.

Des associations de défense des immigrés et des syndicats avaient déposé en octobre un recours en annulation et un référé-suspension contre ce texte, jugeant qu’il excluait les étrangers non communautaires du concours.

D’après l’association la Maison des Potes, “120.000 candidatures ont été recueillies entre le 10 septembre et le 29 octobre, mais les 900 candidatures de non Européens ont été systématiquement écartées par le site internet ou par le personnel des rectorats”.

Jugeant qu’il y avait bien “un doute sérieux sur la légalité” de certaines dispositions du décret, le Conseil d’Etat a décidé de suspendre en partie le texte. Il ordonne également au ministère de “procéder à titre provisoire à (une) réouverture” de la période d’inscription au concours.

Le ministère s’est dit “satisfait” de la décision “qui lève des ambiguïtés” et “clarifie le droit”. “On était confronté à des lois contradictoires, on a voulu naviguer sur cette complexité. La décision du juge est finalement conforme à l’idée qu’on se fait d’avoir des candidats de toutes origines”, a-t-on déclaré dans l’entourage du ministre, Vincent Peillon.

Via Le Figaro