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New ISOTIS report on professional development and models related to inclusiveness

ISOTIS releases the report "Inventory and analysis of professional development and models related to inclusiveness", authored by Pauline Slot, Bodine Romijn and Olga Wysłowska. The report addresses European professional development initiatives that are either focused at the topic of cultural and linguistic diversity and inclusiveness, or that are considered promising regarding the approach used (i.e. including team-based models, using ICT in the intervention or targeting professionals working with hard to reach groups). The inventory included 81 interventions from ten countries (Czech Republic, England, Flemish Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal). According to the report:

"Reflection appeared to be an important strategy for changing professionals' knowledge, skills and attitudes. Therefore, reflection should have a stronger and more prominent role in the organisation of continuous professional development within organisations. This requires providing ample time for reflection and constructively facilitating the reflection process, either by an external expert or by someone within the organisation.

A focus on professionals' knowledge, skills and particularly attitudes seems to be especially important when addressing topics that can be considered more sensitive, such as cultural diversity or inclusiveness, or when working with specific target groups, such as second language learners or Romani families.

A comprehensive approach involving a combination of theory and practice, together with combined face-to-face and online delivery modes as well as the use of different strategies, such as training, coaching and reflection, appears to work best when targeting different types of professionals and professionals at different levels in the organization.

Professionals working with the youngest children in Early Childhood Education and Care provisions could benefit from a stronger focus on multilingualism in professional development initiatives, as this appears to be scarce now.

The use of ICT could be enhanced in professional development initiatives, but at the same time face-to-face contact appears to be essential as well. Thus it seems important to strike a balance between the two in a way that they strengthen each other."

Read more:
Executive summary
Full report

Book on childcare, early education and social inequality includes contributions from ISOTIS researchers

The book "Childcare, early education and social inequality: an international perspective", published by Edward Elgar Publishing, includes contributions from ISOTIS researchers: Jan Skopek (also editor), Martine Broekhuizen, Paul Leseman, Thomas Moser, Pauline Slot, and Henrik D. Zachrisson.

"Recognising that social change over recent decades has strengthened the need for early childhood education and care, this book seeks to answer what role this plays in creating and compensating for social inequalities in educational attainment. Compiling 13 cross-national and multidisciplinary empirical studies on three interrelated topics, this book explores how families from different social backgrounds decide between types of childcare, how important parental care and resources at home are for children’s educational success, and the consequences of early education and care for children’s diverging educational destinies."

Find out more on this book here.

ISOTIS new report on educational inequalities by socioeconomic and migration background

ISOTIS releases the report “Inequalities in educational opportunities by socioeconomic and migration background: a comparative assessment across European societies”, authored by Jesper Rözer and Herman van de Werfhorst. The report addresses levels of socioeconomic and migration-related inequalities in students’ (and young adults’) performance on mathematics, literacy and science, for a large number of countries, time periods and life stages. According to the report:

"We show that there are substantial differences between socioeconomic groups (indicated by parental education and the number of books at home) as well as between migrants (and their descendants) and non-migrants in Europe. The magnitude of the inequalities differs widely across countries, however. Socioeconomic inequalities are particularly large in Central-Eastern European countries, while differences between migrants and non-migrants are particularly large in North-Western Continental European countries."
"Socioeconomic inequalities seem to be stable over time, but may have slightly increased between 1995 and 2015. Inequalities by migration background fluctuate more, and were observed to increase again, especially in later stages of the school career, in recent years, after a steady decline since 2007.
Inequalities by socioeconomic and migration background seem to evolve similarly over the life course: being already large at grade 4 (approximately age 10), remaining stable or even declining while children follow primary and secondary education, and increasing again around age 21 when children leave secondary and tertiary education."

Read executive summary
Download full report

ISOTIS first annual meeting

The first annual ISOTIS meeting was held in the Free University of Berlin, on December 3rd-6th. Our team discussed the work that had been developed and future steps. We had the privilege of welcoming the members of the ISOTIS Advisory Board, Tove Mogstad Slinde (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research), Ljiljana Vasić (Pomoc Deci; Eurochild), and Davide Zoletto (UNIUD), and our invited expert Arno Engel (OECD). Their contributions were very relevant to our reflection on project activities, findings and future challenges.

The ISOTIS researchers addressing inequality in various stages of the educational career discussed the comparative assessment of social and ethnic-cultural inequalities in educational opportunities across European Countries.

The team of the parent interview study on children’s education and upbringing addressed the development of this study, and focused on the themes included in the questionnaire presented to parents (experiences related to the educational systems and support services, hopes and wishes for their children, resources and support needs).

The researchers addressing home education and family support programs discussed the review of potentially promising practices in supporting parents and families to create safe, nurturing and stimulating home environments for their children.

The team focused on inclusive curricula addressed the review of potentially promising practices aiming to reduce educational inequalities through curriculum design and implementation, classroom practices, and/or school social climate.

The team addressing professional development discussed the review on innovative strategies and models of professional development to support educators in dealing with diversity and inequality.

The researchers working on the development of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to support family-school partnerships, and intercultural and multilingual education specified the proposed VLE contents and experiences.

The researchers focused on inter-agency coordination of services for children and families addressed the review of the research literature and in-depth analyses currently being conducted on examples of successful inter-agency working.

Topics related to the dissemination of the results and communication with stakeholders were also addressed during the event.

Thank you to all ISOTIS colleagues, Advisory board members and invited expert, and organizing team from the Free University of Berlin.

The ISOTIS team discusses the development of a Virtual Learning Environment

ISOTIS researchers addressing inclusive curricula in the classroom, family support and professional development in the scope of the project, met in Brno, Czech Republic, on October 26-27th, to discuss the development of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The aim of the VLE is to develop an interactive e-learning environment that can be used by parents, teachers and other professionals to support multilingualism, enhance the parent-school partnerships and promote inclusiveness in the classroom.

During the meeting, the ISOTIS team discussed how to develop a VLE that is sustainable, innovative, and transferable to different contexts. The team also exchanged input on the content, accessibility, and user experience provided by the VLE. Our goal is to design a prototype, which can be used as a model to develop, adapt and implement a VLE in a local context according to the specific needs and interests of the participants. The team also highlighted the importance of working and discussing the development of the VLE with teachers and other Education professionals.

Watch ISOTIS researcher Giulia Pastori (University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy) addressing the development of the proposed Virtual Learning Environment, and its use in supporting multilingualism

October 26: Webinar from the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative on the integration on early years services.

The Early Childhood Workforce Initiative will conduct the webinar "Challenges and opportunities in integrating early years services: a spotlight on the workforce". The objective is to discuss the conditions for interagency work from the perspective of those in a position of leadership in the early year’s workforce.

ISOTIS researcher Jacqueline Barnes will be one of the panelists.

Read more.

Registrations are open.

New article: Early education and care is key to improve school readiness by Edward Melhuish

ISOTIS researcher Edward Melhuish (University of Oxford, England) is the author of the article "Early education and care is key to improve school readiness", recently published in the Child and Family Blog.

This article highlights that parental influence matters more, but investing in early education and care is a simpler way to secure improvements. The author addresses the benefits of early education and care, the importance of funding ECEC for disadvantaged families, and the relevance of training staff.

Read the full article here.

Watch Edward Melhuish focusing on the educational experiences of children from multilingual and diverse cultural contexts

The ISOTIS team will interview parents about their children’s education and upbringing

The ISOTIS team is planning to interview parents on their experiences related to children’s education and upbringing (experiences with educational systems and support services, hopes and wishes for their children, resources and support needs). Interviews will be aimed at parents with a Turkish, North-African, Roma or native lower socio-economic background, who have children aged 3-6 years or 9-12 years. The study wants to explore the strengths and potential of families who may be in a disadvantaged situation due to their minority status, cultural background and/or experience of financial hardship. The families’ views will inform the project results. The goal of the ISOTIS team is for these results to be used by local, national and European stakeholders to improve educational systems and support services in Europe.

On September 7-8th, the core team of ISOTIS researchers involved in the interview study participated in a meeting held in Oxford, organized by Martine Broekhuizen, Thomas Moser, Katharina Ereky-Stevens, Edward Melhuish and Jacqueline Barnes. The themes discussed at the meeting included the selection of participants and foreseeable challenges, the preparation of the data collection manual and decisions on the interview guide.

The interviews will be conducted from the end of October 2017 to March 2018, in 10 European countries: Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Portugal.

The ISOTIS team would like to thank all the families willing to participate and all the stakeholders contributing to the development of this study.

Watch ISOTIS researcher Martine Broekhuizen (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) presenting the goals of the parent interview study.

Meeting “Education and Interculturality: The case of Roma”, Greece

On April 5th, ISOTIS researcher Konstantinos Petrogiannis, from Hellenic Open University, Greece, presented the project goals, tasks and timeline at the meeting "Education and Interculturality: The case of Roma". This event was organized by the Regional Directorate of Primary and Secondary Education of Attica, School Advisors of 62nd, 61st Region of Primary Education of Attica and 56th Region of Preschool Education of Attica, Directorate of Primary Education of Western Attica, Program of Psycho-Social Needs of Roma of Western Attica & Good Practices for Support and Promotion of their Social Inclusion (Athens & Regional TEI ATTICA).

OECD publishes the report Education at a Glance 2017

The report Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators was recently published, and it provides information on: the output of educational institutions; the impact of learning across countries; the financial and human resources invested in education; the access, participation and progression in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools. The report covers all 35 OECD countries and other partner countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa).

Read more about this publication here.

The European Commission launches a public consultation on the evaluation of the EU framework for Roma Integration

The European Commission launches the Public Consultation on the Evaluation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. It will run until October 25.

As mentioned here "The aim of the consultation is to collect stakeholders’ views on the achievements and challenges faced during the years of implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020, adopted in April 2011. More specifically, the aim is gathering views on European and national policy, legal and funding instruments that have been mobilised to fight discrimination and to promote the inclusion of Roma."

All Roma-and non-Roma citizens, organizations, businesses and institutions interested in Roma integration are welcome to contribute.

More details about this consultation can be found here.

New UNICEF report on Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries

UNICEF has recently published the Innocenti Report Card 14 Children in the Developed World: Building the Future - Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries. This Report Card offers an assessment of child well-being in the context of sustainable development across 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

By illustrating variation along key dimensions of child well-being (from ending poverty to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies) this report suggests areas where policy efforts or public investment may be targeted to improve outcomes, and reveals where data inadequacies still need to be addressed.

Read the report here.

The ISOTIS team is identifying promising approaches

The ISOTIS team is currently working on identifying promising approaches to family support, curriculum and pedagogy development, professional development, and inter-agency coordination. This work is being developed through research data-bases, the internet, and consultation of experts and literature. Based on these findings, the team will identify approaches to be discussed and reviewed more in-depth and in detail. The goal is to collect knowledge on key ingredients of effective approaches at these levels, which can contribute to the formulation of concrete recommendations for policy and practice. Stay tuned!

The European Commission launches a public consultation: EU legislation on legal migration (until September 18th)

The European Commission launches a public consultation on the European Union's legislation on the legal migration of non-EU citizens (Fitness Check on EU legal migration legislation). It will run until 18 September 2017.

As mentioned here "The current evaluation aims at assessing the relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency and EU added value of the legislation; identifying possible gaps and inconsistencies in the EU legislation framework and analysing whether it contributes to an effective management of migration flows. The results of the evaluation will assist the European Commission to understand better whether the current legislation is ‘fit for purpose’ and will be used to identify if the legal framework, can be improved and if so how."

More details about this consultation can be found here.

The survey is available here.

Public Policy Exchange will hold a symposium on migrant integration (September 14th)

The symposium "Promoting migrant integration for a powerful, diverse and multicultural Europe" will be held by Public Policy Exchange on September 14th, in Brussels.

According to Public Policy Exchange (see here), delegates will: "Assess the EU framework for migration and integration; Explore solutions for better integration of migrants at the EU, national and local levels; Consider ways to challenge the existing terminology addressing migrants; Discuss migrants’ access to education and job market in the host country; Share best practice on ways to raise awareness about racism and discrimination in Europe; Explore possibilities for increasing cooperation between governments, local authorities and NGOs to promote social cohesion and diversity; Learn from successful interventions and projects; Build strong partnerships with relevant stakeholders in the public and private sector".

More details about the event are available here.

The ISOTIS team met with experts

The ISOTIS team organized an expert meeting on June 22nd-23rd, hosted by the partner institution International Step by Step Association (ISSA) , which took place at the Child Rights Home, in Leiden, the Netherlands. Experts from different institutions and countries (meet them here) were invited to debate the following themes: profiling the target groups in ISOTIS; outreaching and participation; professionalism of the workforce; evaluation and outcomes of programmes; and program implementation and inter-agency coordination. The knowledge and the experiences shared by the invited experts allowed the ISOTIS team to gather important inputs for the development of the project.

The panel of experts and the highlighted topics in the scope of each theme were the following.

Profiling the target groups in ISOTIS

Multicultural and multilingualism need to be addressed in the field of education: it is important that children can have the opportunity to express themselves in their language; it is necessary to invest in the promotion of both first and second languages. The use of ICT can support multilingualism, since it allows efficient production of content (e.g. stories) in many first languages, that can be widely shared.

Panel of experts: Magdalena Skoro, Zorica Trikic, Peter Dixon, Iris Roose, Paulo André

Outreaching and participation

Bringing home and school closer together through accessible activities, projects and inclusive curriculum plays an important role in creating a sense of belonging to school in children. The implementation of home based learning programs, through partnership, may help parents in promoting children’s learning and development. The use of ICT may create reliable relationship between actors of education, and bring services focusing on education. To support outreach and participation, it is also important to invest on continuous bottom up activities, such as empowerment of immigrant associations and local projects, in addition to top-down policy level changes.

Panel of experts: Anna-Louise van der Merwe, Cristina Milagre, Zorica Trikic, Peter Dixon, Sally Smith, Mehmet Alpbek

Professionalism of the workforce

New ways of professional development go beyond focusing on the individual professional. Team based learning is a more effective way of improving practice that will enhance sustainability. This includes team meetings used for reflection and discussion everyday practice or professional learning communities. These types of activities can be organised face-to-face or by using digital technology.

Panel of experts: Angela Anning, Cristina Milagre, Iris Roose, Anke van Keulen, Sanja Brajković, Margy Whalley

Evaluation/outcomes of programmes

Program evaluation is very important: it serves both proving and improving purposes. Purposeful evaluation should consider both high-quality research methods but also take into account the flexible and cooperative nature of successful interventions and/or services supporting disadvantaged children and families.

Panel of experts: La Salete Lemos, Anna-Louise van der Merwe, Magdalena Szeniawska, Paulo André, Sally Smith

Program implementation and inter-agency

The analysis of key factors for success or failure in program implementation and in inter-agency work is very relevant. It is important to focus on relationships between professionals, in order to facilitate joint working, although it is a complex process which does not happen overnight.

Panel of experts: Angela Anning, La Salete Lemos, Magdalena Szeniawska, Anke van Keulen, Sanja Brajković, Margy Whalley


Learning with Storypark

The ISOTIS project has the objective of designing collaborative online tools and apps for parents, classrooms and professionals involved in the lives of culturally and linguistically diverse families. On June 21st, 2017, in Leiden, the Netherlands, the ISOTIS team got valuable input from the presentation on Storypark by its CEO, Peter Dixon, who highlighted the following:
Born in New Zealand, Storypark's cloud-based platform supports almost 5,000 early learning environments and communities in 23 countries. This platform is proven to increase family engagement, reflective practice and the effectiveness of responses to each child's unique interests and strengths. Storypark's current work is focused on enhancing quality practice and building the confidence and capability of parents through ICT. It provides some unique opportunities to better understand children's development and provide support for parents and families.

Meet Storypark here

Meeting on data collection in the parent interview study (WP2)

On June 21st 2017, all ISOTIS partners involved in Work Package 2 (parent and child interview studies) held a data collection meeting in Leiden, the Netherlands. During this inspiring day, several topics on both the large-scale quantitative and in-depth qualitative parent interview study were discussed, which focuses on families’ resources, experiences, aspirations and support needs. Main topics were the recruitment and interview procedures, the data management plan and the specific focus of both studies. The work package leaders got valuable input to further develop the quantitative and qualitative parent interview study, which runs from October 2017 to March 2018. The child interview study is planned for the fall 2018.

ISOTIS releases literature reviews

ISOTIS recently released reviews on:
• Inequality in various stages of the educational career: Patterns and mechanisms – Literature review, by Jan Skopek, Herman Van de Werfhorst, Jesper Rözer, Henrik Daae Zachrisson, Thomas van Huizen
Download the full report (pdf).

• Parent and family focused support to increase educational equality – Central assumptions and core concepts, by Yvonne Anders, Joana Cadima, Maria Evangelou, Gil Nata
Download the full report (pdf).

• Short literature review of main trends and challenges in curriculum approaches, educational practices, and social climate interventions aiming to tackle social inequalities, by Cecília Aguiar, Giulia Pastori, Ana Camacho, Rita Guerra, Ricardo Rodrigues
Download the full report (pdf).

• The role of professionals in promoting diversity and inclusiveness, by Pauline Slot, Bénédicte Halba, Bodine Romijn
Download the full report (pdf).

• Inter-agency coordination of services for children and families - Initial literature review, by Jacqueline Barnes and Edward Melhuish with Joana Carla Guerra, Malgorzata Karwowska-Struczyk, Konstantinos Petrogiannis, Olga Wyslowska, Henrik Dae Zachrisson
Download the full report (pdf)

ISOTIS also recently released an integration of the previous reports on literature review:
• Theoretical framework: A brief integration of literature reviews by ISOTIS work packages, edited by Thomas Moser, Martine Broekhuizen, Paul Leseman, Edward Melhuish
Download the full report (pdf)

Download the full reports from our library.

Developing plans at the ISOTIS kick-off meeting

On January 15th – 17th 2017, the ISOTIS project has been officially launched with the ISOTIS Kick-off meeting. The meeting was organized by the Coordinator (Utrecht University) in Utrecht, The Netherlands. All ISOTIS partner institutions were represented at the meeting and the consortium welcomed also five Advisory board members, the ISOTIS Ethics advisor and the Project Officer from European Commission.


Welcome to ISOTIS

The project ISOTIS, funded by the European Union within the Horizon2020 program, has just begun. ISOTIS is a continuation of the CARE-project (European Union 7th Framework Programme, grant agreement 613318; ) and involves many of the former CARE-partners. CARE addressed curriculum, quality and impact of early childhood education and care in Europe. ISOTIS expands on CARE by including the primary school phase and by focusing more specifically on the role of early and primary education in tackling inequality and exclusion.

We are currently working on questionnaires for a large-scale interview study, in 10 countries, of families who often suffer from disadvantage because of their immigrant, ethnic minority or working class background. In many respects this study reflects the positive mission of ISOTIS: giving voice to European citizens who, for some reason, are not participating in current societies in ways that fulfill their potentials and ambitions. Central questions are: how can we explain social inequality and exclusion, and what are the mechanisms of education and service systems that reproduce inequality and tend to exclude parts of the population?

We will speak with many parents and children to understand their perspectives. We want to talk with them about their experiences as citizens in societies that struggle with increasing cultural diversification. We want to find out about the mobility aspirations of parents and children, and learn about the cultural and linguistic resources they bring to preschool, school and society.

Even more important is the question: how can we tackle current inequality and exclusion? We will examine approaches within education and support services that help to create inclusive societies and to prevent early disadvantages in early stage. We will focus on new educational technologies and models of service coordination that hold promise for better intercultural communication, stronger partnerships between families and schools, respectful multilingual and multicultural policies at (pre)school and in society, and for empowering social support for children and families.

Building on the strengths and cultural resources of families and communities is the backbone of the social action that we want to initiate. Creating an inclusive society with an inclusive and effective education and support system: this seems a most promising strategy to tackle persistent inequalities. Join us!


Paul Leseman

ISOTIS Coordinator