School Quality from the Perspective of Migrant Children as a Basis for Ensuring Inclusive Education
Comparative analyses (OECD 2015) indicate considerably lower school performance of migrant children compared to their non-migrating peers. Consequently, providing quality education for migrant children in order to establish a socially cohesive and inclusive society is seen as a serious challenge. The paper presents the results of a study conducted with migrant schoolchildren in Slovenian primary schools (n = 40) aimed at investigating their perception of what a good school is. The results of the study will allow us to include migrant children’s perspectives when designing the programme for working with migrant children in Slovenian schools.
KEY WORDS: child participation, migrant children, education quality, inclusion of migrant children, integration of migrant children
Ensuring the quality of the educational process for migrant children in order to establish a socially cohesive and inclusive society is a serious challenge. There is a clear connection between a successful integration of migrant children and school performance on the one hand and a positive recognition of children and their families’ languages, cultures, previous knowledge and experiences on the other. The paper presents the results of a study conducted with migrant schoolchildren in Slovenian primary schools (n=40) aimed at investigating their perspectives on and perception of what a good school is. The results of the study will allow us to include migrant children’s perspectives when designing the programme for working with migrant children in Slovenian schools and preschools.The findings of the study indicate that students with an immigrant background really want to be successful academically; they suggest methods and approaches that could contribute to their school performance (assistance provided by their teachers and schoolmates, collaboration with schoolmates, additional explanations, knowledge of the teaching language or classes taught in their mother tongues). They associate a good school with encouraging socio-emotional and learning interaction as well as with teachers’ actions that demonstrate the teachers’ intrapersonal and interpersonal competence. Furthermore, they emphasize good relationships with schoolmates and material conditions.The responses given by the children participating in the study indicate that students’ academic achievements depend greatly on their proficiency in communicating in Slovene. To ensure a multicultural and multilingual environment, children’s prior languages and experiences will have to be acknowledged (in interviews with children, parents, informal conversations and in multimodal environments). Moreover, schools will have to cooperate with the community, interactive learning strategies will have to be implemented and cultural differences/diversity inside and outside the classroom will have to be recognized.Our findings also point to significant differences among (1) being present in an environment, (2) participating in the life and activities of a classroom or group and (3) being part of a group you belong to. In other words, there is a significant difference between tolerance and positive, caring recognition in a diverse, learning community.