Author Archives: vanessacfcosta

How do educational achievements relate to socioeconomic and migration background?

Author: Jesper Rözer

Achievements in mathematics, science, and literacy skills are related to educational attainment and success on the labor market, resulting, for instance, in more desirable jobs and higher wages later in life. Yet, we know that the education of one’s parents as well as whether one’s parents or oneself is born in the country in which one attends school matters a lot for one’s educational achievement. In this ISOTIS report, we seek to answer: how do these differences in achievement by socioeconomic and migration background vary between countries over time and across the life course?

Therefore, we combined information from more than 5.6 million individuals from 103 regions. The findings indicated:

• There are substantial differences in test-scores between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds, with children from higher educated parents performing better. Smaller differences are found between children with and without a migrant background in Europe.
• Socioeconomic inequalities are particularly large in Central-Eastern European countries, while inequalities by migration background 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.
• 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.

Thus, high quality environments and the promotion of equality in primary and secondary schools may reduce the inequality trends by socioeconomic and migration background, and work as equalizers. In addition, there are large differences between countries in how large the inequalities are. In our next ISOTIS report, we will address the question: Are some national policies more effective in tackling inequalities than others?

Thank you to all our interviewers

We interviewed around 3700 parents across Europe! We have been asking parents with a Turkish, Moroccan, Romani or lower-SES native background about their children education and upbringing. We have received positive reactions from our informants. This is possible thanks to the great work conducted by the teams of interviewers in the participating countries: Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Portugal.

TOY for Inclusion toolkit

How to create inclusive play spaces?

The "TOY for Inclusion toolkit" provides information to enable trainers and practitioners to set-up and run play spaces for children, families and communities. It pays attention to social integration, intercultural and intergenerational dialogue, and social inclusion in the context of Early Childhood Education and Care. ISOTIS researcher Stanislav Daniel (ISSA) is one of the authors of this toolkit.

Find the "TOY for Inclusion toolkit" here:

New ISOTIS publication: Good practice in interagency working with children and their families

ISOTIS releases a new publication on inter-agency working with young children and their families, by Jacqueline Barnes and colleagues. The title of this publication is: Comprehensive review of the literature on inter-agency working with young children, incorporating findings from case studies of good practice in interagency working with young children and their families within Europe. It explores different models of inter-agency work, evidence of impact, facilitators and challenges, and the implications for good practice. It illustrates successful inter-agency working with culturally and linguistically diverse families, including lower-SES, immigrant, and Romani families, in Belgium, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and the UK.

According to the publication, the development of inter-agency work would benefit from addressing the following suggestions:
"- Ensure political will and commitment, at multiple levels – top down to facilitate funding and bottom up to facilitate the relevance of services;
- With political will, there is more likelihood of sustained funding;
- Develop a programme model that provides a system of strong governance, leadership and management;
- Work from the outset to create a shared purpose and culture between the relevant agencies, with jointly agreed goals;
- To facilitate this process, provide opportunities for agencies/service to come together to discuss the concepts related to integrated services, focusing on not only benefits for each agency but also potential difficulties;
- Develop a management model with clearly defined structures and a shared protocol, and revisit it regularly;
- Allow for frequent and effective communication and meetings between all agencies to address any issues, both at the start of a programme but also as an on-going aspect of the management model;
- Allow opportunities for good communication between leadership and staff to clarify roles and responsibilities;
- Providing joint training between staff from different services/agencies to foster understanding and reduce any mistrust or rivalry; - Provide sufficient funding (allowing for staff time away from other duties) for regular staff supervision and discussion to reduce stress associated with change and to promote professionalism;
- Consider co-location of services, especially close to or attached to an educational establishment, while strengthening communication with services that cannot be co-located;
- Address data protection issues so that all aspects of service delivery and outcomes can be documented through a common IT system, enabling the best use of data to document need and impact of services;
- Most importantly, using on-going evaluation with both established questionnaires and more open-ended methods (e.g., focus groups) to monitor implementation, staff satisfaction, and child/family outcomes;
- If possible involve a university or other research partner so that evidence can be set in the context of strong research designs;
- Reviewing progress regularly and amending the service accordingly based on the results of reflective practice, monitoring and evaluation;
- Initiate studies that might test the longer-term outcomes for clients of inter-agency working."

Knowledge of these facilitators will be important when putting together policies to develop inter-agency provision in other contexts.

Read executive summary
Download full report

New ISOTIS Newsletter released

We are happy to present the 4th ISOTIS Newsletter!

We invite you to read about our new publications, meetings, and participation in events. Check out our study on educational opportunities by socioeconomic and migration background, and our inventories on potentially effective approaches to tackle inequalities and to increase inclusiveness in education and society. These can be useful for practice, programs and policy making.

Give us your feedback by commenting on FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter. Your views are important to us.

Education Select Committee for newly launched Life Chances Inquiry

Professor Ted Melhuish (Professor of Human Development) gave oral evidence to the Education Committee on Tuesday 12 June to support a new inquiry - Life Chances Inquiry - examining the impact that early years education and social policy have on determining children’s life chances.

The session, which was the first in the inquiry, focused on early years education provision, support for parents and families and the role of children’s centres in promoting social justice. Fellow panel witnesses included Sir Kevan Collins (Chief Executive, Education Endowment Foundation), Laura McFarlane (Director of the LEAP Programme, National Children’s Bureau) and Steven McIntosh (Director of UK Poverty Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children).

Professor Melhuish’s work uses theoretically driven research to address applied issues and policy questions to produce improvements in development and well-being. Current research projects involve evaluating interventions such as early childhood education and care (ECEC), parental support, early intervention strategies. He is the director of the Study of Early Education and Development and an advisor to OECD, WHO, and the European Commission on early years education policy.

The inquiry launched on 4 May 2018 will focus on early years educational settings but will also look at Government policy and make recommendations on how to improve social justice, while considering the role of services other than education, including health services and those provided by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Watch the meeting in full at the Parliament TV

Discover more about the Life Chances Inquiry

ISOTIS Workshop: Analyzing information from interviews with mothers

The workshop “ISOTIS WP2 Qualitative Study: coding and analytical strategies: mothers from low income families without immigrant background” took place at the Department of Education of University of Oxford (OU), on 23th-25th May 2018. The workshop was hosted by the OU ISOTIS team and the Department of Education of OU.

Researchers from Poland, Portugal and England took part in the discussion on coding of transcripts of the interviews aimed at mothers on their children education, including topics such as: experiences with the educational system and support services, hopes and wishes for their children, and their resources and support needs. Researchers also discussed evolving themes for narrative analysis, analysis of visual information and analytical strategies for comparative analysis.
The workshop was led by Dr. Lyudmila Nurse, coordinator of the study that involves in-depth interviews with mothers about the topics mentioned (qualitative study). The OU participants were Ted Melhuish, Jaqueline Barnes, and Eszter Saghy. Polish team was represented by Paulina Marchlik and Elżbieta Czerska-Szczepaniak (University of Warsaw), and Katarzyna Gajek (University of Łodz). The Portuguese team was represented by Cecilia Aguiar, Inês Alves Ferreira and Carla Sofia Silva (ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon). Martine Broekhuizen (University of Utrecht) and Kateřina Sidiropulu-Janků (Masaryk University) joined the discussion on the third day of the workshop to discuss strategies for merging coding trees across target groups of mothers and preparation for the forthcoming workshops. These will focus on mothers from Romani minority group and of immigrant background, and will take place on 2-4 July in Brno and 16-18 August in Utrecht, respectively.

Biographical Research in the UK

We already interviewed almost 3000 parents across Europe on their experiences related to children’s education and upbringing! We are also conducting in-depth interviews with some of the participating parents to elaborate on these topics. Information collected via these in-depth interviews will be analysed using elements of the biographical method.

"Biographical Research in the UK: Profiles and Perspectives" is the title of a book chapter by ISOTIS researcher Lyudmila Nurse (University of Oxford) and colleague, included in the recently released "Handbuch Biographieforschung" [Handbook of Biography Research]. This chapter provides an overview of developments and new dimensions in biographical research in the UK.

Find out more about this book

Tackling child poverty and social exclusion in the EU

Tackling child poverty and social exclusion in the EU - How EU funding mechanisms can help" is a paper prepared for the European Platform for Investing in Children. It addresses European Union programmes and funds available to fight poverty among children and promote their social inclusion and general well-being.

The CARE project (European Union 7th Framework Programme, grant agreement 613318; ) is included as one of the good examples in this paper. CARE addressed issues related to the quality, inclusiveness, and benefits of Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe. ISOTIS is a continuation of the CARE-project and involves many of the former CARE-partners. 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.

Find the publication

What characterizes promising professional development interventions related to inclusiveness?

Author: Pauline Slot

In view of life-long learning there is a lot of attention for on-going and continuous professional development (PD) that can contribute to changing professionals’ competences and behaviour. For the current purpose, professionals include a wide range of practitioners working with children and families, such as teachers, social workers, paraprofessionals and volunteers, in formal and informal settings. PD concerns all actions aimed at changing professionals’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, beliefs or behaviour. Although there are abundant PD studies, there are two drawbacks in this literature. The first is that the majority of studies published in scientific journals come from Anglo-Saxon countries. Secondly, these studies do not always provide detailed information on the different components of professionalization, thus providing limited details on its key. The ISOTIS inventory aimed to address both gaps by exploring aspects of promising European PD interventions.

Based on the inventory, we propose a new framework to view PD.

The outer layer situates the professional within a larger (organizational) context, which is likely to impact the effectiveness of PD. inside there are three main PD components related to the who, the what, and the how of PD.

  1. The characteristics of the learners and the context are important to consider when thinking about PD. For instance, the results of the inventory showed that the majority of the programmes in the inventory could be considered as general interventions, rather than aimed at professionals working with a specific target group. In some cases the programmes were aimed at professionals working with disadvantaged children or second language learners.
  2. Different content areas can be addressed in PD. The results of the inventory showed that 69% of the interventions were specifically focused on cultural diversity, multilingualism or inclusiveness. Further, different focus domains can be distinguished, such as knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes. The findings of the inventory revealed that the majority of PD interventions emphasized knowledge and skills or knowledge, skills and attitudes.
  3. Broadly speaking, three different types of PD strategies can be distinguished: training or courses, coaching and reflection. The inventory highlighted that the combination of all three strategies was the most common across interventions, followed by a combination of training and reflection. The preferred delivery mode was face-to-face and the PD was targeted either at an individual or at both the individual and the team level.

Mechanism of change

The inner circle reflects the two main processes hypothesized to change professionals’ behaviour and practices. Enactment concerns the translation of newly acquired beliefs into practice and illustrates the on-going exchange between professionals’ knowledge, beliefs and skills in changing actual behaviour and practices. The results of the inventory showed that the majority of PD interventions was both theory- and practice based, which could support enactment as underlying mechanism of changing professionals’ practices.

Reflection is the other key facilitator of change as it allows professionals to use (daily) experiences to critically consider, (re)evaluate and reconstruct knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, skills, and behaviour. Indeed the results supported the importance of reflection, as this was part of the majority of PD interventions included in the inventory. In order to be effective, reflection needs to be critical and constructive. Moreover, there are some indications that reflection involving the team as a whole, rather than a single professional, and that incorporate a focus on attitudes besides knowledge and skills can be more effective in changing professionals’ behaviour and practices.

Recommendations for practice

  1. Reflection is an important aspect of PD and should have a prominent role in professionals’ (everyday) practices, as part of continuous professional development within the organisation, and in specific interventions aimed at changings professionals’ knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes.
  2. A comprehensive approach to PD involves a combination of theory and practice with interplay of face-to-face and online delivery using different PD strategies, including training, reflection and coaching, targeting professionals’ knowledge, skills, beliefs and attitudes.
  3. Online PD can include e-learning activities, video-based reflection, online exchange of practices and online tools for self reflection.