Germany: Pedagogical experience in Berlin to better integrate immigrant children

In the face of repeated violence at the Rutli school located in the poor neighbourhood of Neukölln in Berlin, teachers were asked to close their facility in March 2006 .

The mayor responded by gathering on the same site a primary school, a middle school and a high school in order to adapt the teaching to the levels of students. This mix has paid off because today the city school has over 900 students and only 5% leave the institution without a degree.

Listen to the report in French via France Inter

PISA in Focus: When is competiton between schools beneficial?

OECD school competition

Would you rather choose where to send your child to school or have the decision made for you based on where you live? Many parents would rather choose, in the belief that with choice comes the chance of getting a better education for their child. But results from PISA find that education systems do not necessarily benefit as a result.

As the latest PISA in Focus explains, where parents can choose the school that their children attend, socio-economically disadvantaged parents can end up choosing the best school among a more limited set of choices than more affluent parents; as a result, the benefits of school choice may not accrue to the same extent to disadvantaged students as to their more advantaged peers. And if affluent families are more likely to opt out of the neighbourhood school than poorer residents of the same area, competition may increase socio-economic segregation in schools.

To understand how school choice works in practice, PISA asked parents to rate the importance of different criteria for choosing a school for their children, from “not important at all” to “very important”. Among the list of 11 possible criteria given to parents, one is directly related to the quality of teaching and learning (“The academic achievements of students in the school are high”), but only a minority of parents rated this as “very important” (except in Korea, where 50% of parents did).

Three of the criteria for school choice listed in the parent questionnaire are related to direct or indirect monetary costs (“the school is a short distance from home”; “expenses are low”; “the school has financial aid available”). For more affluent parents, these cost-related factors weigh less than the quality of instruction in their choice of schools, as shown by the proportion of parents who rate the different criteria as “very important”. But in 10 out of the 11 countries and economies that distributed the parent questionnaire, disadvantaged parents tend to choose their children’s school as much on the basis of cost-related factors as on the quality of instruction. These data therefore suggest that parents of different socio-economic status do not seek the same information about schools before choosing one; and even if they have information about the quality of instruction, it may not be the deciding factor.

PISA results also show that, on average across countries, school competition is not related to better mathematics performance among students. In systems where almost all 15-year-olds attend schools that compete for enrolment, average performance is similar to that in systems where school competition is the exception.

What this means is that school choice may actually spoil some of the intended benefits of competition, such as greater innovation in education and a better match between students’ needs and interests and what schools offer, by reinforcing social inequities at the same time.

Via OECD Education Today

SIRIUS has previously organised a Stakeholder meeting on School concentration (January 2014), as well as a Thematic Workshop on Segregation and Inclusion in Education (October 2013).

Danish school with only bilingual students is likely to be closed

Tovshøjskolen in Aarhus
Tovshøjskolen in Aarhus

Tovshøjskolen, a school in the municipality of Aarhus, is Denmark’s only school without native Danish pupils. All 300 students are of immigrant descent and grew up bilingually. Now, both education experts and politicians call for closing the school as they see such high concentrations of ethnic minority pupils as an obstacle to integration and school performance.

School concentration in Aarhus is widespread as pupils and parents are allowed to choose schools freely. Pupils do, however, have to pass an entry exam that tests their Danish skills. According to Tovshøjskolen’s principal, many pupils at his school were among those scoring lowest. In addition, the school is located in a disadvantaged neighbourhood. Politicians on local and national level therefore advocate for closing the school and distributing pupils across other schools in the municipality.

Via Politiken

Study shows how enrolment policies increase educational inequalities in Ireland

logo gqlzqyA recent study by the NUI Galway sheds new light on the situation of the so-called “New Irish” pupils and establishes a link between enrolment practices at Irish schools and the growing achievement gap between native and migrant students.

Aim of the study was to assess how factors such as neighbourhood, school and home environment affect educational outcomes of student from immigrant descent in secondary education. Furthermore, the study found that native students are twice as likely to sit higher level in maths and science. As access to Irish universities depends on a point system, which rewards higher levels in these subjects, migrant students will also be underrepresented in university education. In addition, the study highlights that current policies on school choice discriminate against migrant students since schools are allowed to give preferential treatment to candidates with family members who previously attended the school. The study remarks that there is a link between the growing achievement gap and those enrolment practices which further educational segregation.

Via The Galway Advertiser

Abstract of the article published in the journal Population, Space and Place