Category Archives: English

Educational Inequality Conference held at the University of Amsterdam

ISOTIS researchers Herman van de Werfhorst and Jesper Rözer, both from the University of Amsterdam, integrated the team that organized the Educational Inequality Conference, held on 5-6th July. The team aimed to integrate studies that focus on mechanisms that explain how inequalities are created (e.g. in families, or in schools), and studies that focus on emergence or effects of institutional arrangements in educational systems.

This conference included presentations authored by ISOTIS researchers Herman van de Werfhorst, Jesper Röze, Jan Skopek, Thomas Van Huizen, Giampiero Passaretta, Nigel Kragten, and Andrea Forster, namely:

- School tracking regimes, student sorting, and social inequalities. A comparative analysis of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands
Moris Triventi (University of Trento), Jan Skopek (Trinity College Dublin) & Thomas Van Huizen (Utrecht University)

- Female advantage and disadvantage: Institutional and cultural explanations for vertical and horizontal gender segregation in education.
Lotte Scheeren & Herman van de Werfhorst (University of Amsterdam)

- Contextual inequality, education-based meritocracy and personal legitimation of stratification
Anatolia Batruch & Herman van de Werfhorst (University of Amsterdam)

- Inequalities in Educational Opportunities by Socioeconomic and Migration Background: A Comparative Assessment
Jesper Rözer, Herman van de Werfhorst & Nigel Kragten (University of Amsterdam)

- To what extent are social inequalities in educational achievement explained by preschool inequalities? A comparative analysis of the UK, Germany and the Netherlands
Giampiero Passaretta (Trinity College Dublin), Jan Skopek (Trinity College Dublin), Thomas van Huizen (Utrecht University)

- Tracking, Student Expectations and Higher Education Enrollment – A comparison between the US and Germany
Andrea Forster (University of Amsterdam), Anna Katyn Chmielewski (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto) & Herman van de Werfhorst (University of Amsterdam)

Visit the conference page

Portugal: Process quality in preschool classrooms serving children at-risk and with disabilities

What does quality ECEC look like for centres serving children at-risk of poverty, social exclusion and children with disabilities?

ISOTIS and CARE researchers Joana Cadima, Cecília Aguiar and Clara Barata examined the complex interplay of structural features and interactions between staff and children in Portuguese centres serving these populations. The title of the paper is: Process quality in Portuguese preschool classrooms serving children at-risk of poverty and social exclusion and children with disabilities.

The paper is available for free download for 50 days after publication. Check it here:

PT: Como é a qualidade dos serviçoes para a primeira infância nos centros que atendem crianças em situação de risco de pobreza, exclusão social e crianças com deficiência?

As investigadoras do ISOTIS e do CARE Joana Cadima, Cecília Aguiar e Clara Barata examinaram as complexas ligações entre caraterísticas estruturais e interações entre o staff e as crianças nos centros portugueses que servem estas populações. O título do artigo é: Qualidade do processo em salas de aula pré-escolares portuguesas que atendem crianças em situação de risco de pobreza e exclusão social e crianças com deficiência.

O artigo está disponível para download gratuito por 50 dias após a publicação. Encontre-o aqui:

Online course – The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development

We are happy to share the launching of the free online course "The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development", from the SDG Academy. The course starts on September 24, 2018, and has a length of 8 weeks.

The course will address questions such as: What does a successful early childhood care program look like? How has a child’s brain developed at the age of 3? How does nutrition impact the future well-being of a child into adulthood? Topics will include:
• How neurological makeup affects children’s development;
• The intersection of childcare, education and other programming with policies at the national level and beyond;
• How factors such as forced migration impact a child’s future.

Instructors: Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Jack P. Shonkoff, Aisha Yousafzai, and Catherine Tamis-LeMonda.

This year all course video lectures have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Hindi to reach a wider audience.

Enroll here:

Shaping environments for motor development – International conference

The Utrecht University, the Netherlands, will host the international conference: "Shaping environments for motor development", on September 10-11. The following themes will be addressed:

Keynote by Osnat Atun-Einy | Ora Oudgenoeg-Paz | Saskia van Schaik

Keynote by Catherine Tamis-Lemonda

Keynote by Charles Super

Anneloes van Baar | Imke van Maren-Suir | Marike Boonzaaijer

Marian Jongmans | Mijna Hadders-Algra

Find out the link to register here:

Urban spaces to support parents – New study by ISSA

The environments in which children and embedded can influence to a great extent their access to services, and the quality of these services.

A comparative study of "Urban Spaces to Support Parents" was developed by ISOTIS partner International Step by Step Association (ISSA). The main goal was to identify social facilities that have the potential to improve the quality of life for children between 0-4 years old . The study analyzes programs from Australia, Belgium, Slovenia, the UK and the USA. The research aimed to learn more about: diversity of the services provided; type of workforce required; curriculum of the programs; flexibility in terms of opening hours; funding schemes and costs.

Read the new about this study
Read the report

Do children benefit from universal Early Childhood Education and Care?

A new study by ISOTIS researcher Thomas van Huizen (Utrecht University) and colleague Janneke Plantenga examines the effects of universal Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) on child development and children's later life outcomes.

The researchers analysed the findings from 30 studies conducted between 2005 and 2017. They found that:
- Age of enrollment is not a major factor in explaining the impact. Some evidence indicates that more intensive programs produce more favorable outcomes.
- Program quality matters critically: high quality arrangements consistently generate positive child outcomes.
- Publicly provided programs produce more favorable effects than privately provided (and mixed) programs.
- The evidence does not indicate that ECEC effects are fading out in the long run.
- The gains of ECEC are concentrated within children from lower socioeconomic families.

The title of the article is "Do Children Benefit from Universal Early Childhood Education and Care? A Meta-Analysis of Evidence from Natural Experiments", and it is published in the journal Economics of Education Review.

Find the access to the article here:

van Huizen, T.M. & Plantenga, J. (2018). Do Children Benefit from Universal Early Childhood Education and Care? A Meta-Analysis of Evidence from Natural ExperimentsEconomics of Education Review, forthcoming.

Presentation on the contribute of partnerships for the development of projects in the field of inclusive education

ISOTIS researchers Joana Guerra and Catarina Leitão (University of Coimbra) presented "The contribute of partnerships for the conceptualization and execution of community intervention projects in the field of inclusive education. Examples in the scope of the Escolhas program in Portugal", at the 2nd Congresso Internacional de Redes Sociais, on June 7.

The goal of this communication was to present the results of a case study about interagency working developed in a intervention project carried out in a Roma community. To present examples of good practice, identifying success factors and obstacles in achieving collaborative work among agencies with a responsibility to solve wicked problems, such as access to education, can be a measure to combat early inequalities.

Escolhas is a national government program, promoted by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and integrated in the High Commission for Migration (ACM, IP), whose mission is to promote the social inclusion of children and young people from vulnerable socioeconomical contexts. The partnership work is considered one of the pillars in this program. The consortia created for each project enable the idea that it is on the local scale that problems can best be solved. The local partnerships seek complementarity, the articulation of resources and co-responsibility for initiatives, in order to promote the sustainability of actions.

The conclusions of the study by our colleagues point out the success factors and constraints of partnership work for public and private sector professionals and organizations. They also highlight advantages of this organizational model as a way to guarantee adequate social responses and services to the needs of children, young people and their families, as well as to the wider community.

PT: As investigadoras do ISOTIS Joana Guerra e Catarina Leitão (Universidade de Coimbra) apresentaram a comunicação "O contributo das parcerias na concetualização e execução dos projetos de intervenção comunitária no domínio da educação inclusiva. Exemplos no âmbito do programa Escolhas em Portugal", no 2º Congresso Internacional de Redes Sociais, no dia 7 de junho.

O objetivo desta comunicação foi apresentar os resultados de um estudo de caso sobre o trabalho de parceria desenvolvido num projeto de intervenção comunitária realizado numa comunidade cigana. Apresentar exemplos de boas práticas, identificando os fatores de sucesso e os obstáculos na concretização do trabalho de colaboração entre agências com responsabilidade na resolução de problemas sociais complexos, como por exemplo o acesso à educação, pode constituir uma medida de combate às desigualdades precoces.

O Escolhas é um programa governamental de âmbito nacional, promovido pela Presidência do Conselho de Ministros e integrado no Alto Comissariado para as Migrações – ACM, IP, cuja missão é promover a inclusão social de crianças e jovens de contextos socioeconómicos vulneráveis. O trabalho de parceria é considerado um dos pilares do Programa Escolhas. Os consórcios criados para cada projeto viabilizam a ideia de que é na escala local que os problemas melhor poderão ser resolvidos. As parcerias locais procuram a complementaridade, a articulação de recursos e a corresponsabilização pelas iniciativas, de forma a promover a sustentabilidade das ações.

As conclusões do estudo indicam fatores de sucesso e constrangimentos do trabalho de parceria para os profissionais e organizações do setor público e privado. As conclusões também realçam as vantagens deste modelo organizacional como forma de garantir respostas e serviços sociais adequados às necessidades das crianças, jovens e suas famílias, bem como para a comunidade em geral.

Find out more about Escolhas  / Saiba mais sobre o Programa Escolhas:

The ISOTIS team discussed the development of the Virtual Learning Environment

The ISOTIS team met on June 26-27th, in the University of Milano-Bicocca, to discuss the development of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) proposed in the scope of the project. The aim of the VLE is to develop an interactive e-learning environment that can be used by children, parents, teachers and other professionals to support multilingualism, enhance the parent-school partnerships and promote inclusiveness in the classroom.

Our team discussed the main VLE functionalities, structure and users’ profiles and journeys. Main functions will be to provide resources, to facilitate communication and exchange through a social media structure, and to provide a collaborative space of work for professionals, parents, and children. The team focused on how to guarantee the most user-friendly interface for professionals, while also encouraging the creation of communities.

Our colleagues presented possible activities to be included in the VLE. Our goal is to select activities that strengthen community bonds, enhance communication and collaboration, and mobilize and value families’ and professionals’ resources.

How digital technology is used by young children today?

"Young Children (0-8) and digital technology - A qualitative study across Europe" is a recent report by the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission’s in-house science service. It presents the results of a qualitative study made over seventeen countries exploring how children between 0-8 years old engage with digital technologies, how far parents mediate this engagement and their awareness on the risks-opportunities balance.

According to the report:
- Young children learn digital skills by observing and mirroring adults' and older children's behaviors. Yet, young children lack of agency and of clear representation of tools they use daily (e.g. Internet, Wi-Fi, social networks).
- Young children diversify their digital skills and are more aware of risks if their school integrates digital technology meaningfully and develop digital literacy. Parents tend to support more their children’s digital learning opportunities if schools integrate digital technology in their homework requests.

New literature review on structural characteristics and process quality in ECEC

"Structural characteristics and process quality in early childhood education and care: A literature review" is the title of a OECD Education Working Paper, authored by ISOTIS researcher Pauline Slot (Utrecht University).

According to the abstract:

"This literature review investigated relations between structural characteristics and process quality in centre and family daycare provisions for children from birth to age 5. Structural characteristics were examined at system, organisational, classroom, and staff levels. The strongest evidence concerned the positive relations between staff’ pre-service and professional development and process quality. Smaller group sizes and child-staff ratios were also generally positively related to process quality. At the system level, quality rating and improvement systems appeared to be associated with higher process quality, although most systems lacked sensitivity in differentiating between fine-grained levels of quality. Evidence on relations at the organisational level was scarce. Furthermore, there was evidence of a complex interaction of structural features at different levels that jointly predicted process quality, but more research is warranted. Overall, most studies were focused on centre-based provisions for children aged 3 to 5, whereas less evidence was available for provisions for children aged 0 to 2 and family daycare."

Find the paper here:

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: Promising practices in family support programs

ISOTIS releases the "Inventory and analysis of promising and evidence-based parent- and family focused support programs", edited by Joana Cadima, Gil Nata, Maria Evangelou and Yvonne Anders. It provides social context indicators on family support for the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal. The country profiles focus on child and family services, country policies on equality issues, monitoring, and language support. 

According to the authors, recommendations for potentially effective interventions include:

"Programmes have to be adapted to the country-specific contextual needs."

“Services/programmes need flexible staff to address parents’ needs while keeping up standardization; this is particularly the case when dealing with families and parents who do not speak the same language of the programmes’ staff, or when dealing with disenfranchised groups who may need time and support to trust institutions.

Multicultural beliefs, as opposed to egalitarian and assimilative beliefs, seem to be key prerequisites to develop and carry out high quality programmes that meet the needs of multicultural groups. Beliefs are relatively stable but develop over time, so professional development programmes that foster multicultural beliefs need to be implemented carefully, and sensitivity for multiculturalism needs to be transferred to all levels of service/programme development and implementation.

Only few services/programmes consider the first languages of immigrants or their promotion in their programmes and staff development. However, this aspect should be revisited to address this important issue, because it may be an important factor, not only for outreach but also for the compliance and trust of participants in services/programmes.

ICT-tools may have great potential to foster particularly outreach and compliance of participants and provide new ways for networking, building communities of trust and share ideas to overcome challenges at local, regional, national or even international level. ICT-tools may be particularly useful for integrating the first languages of immigrants within programmes.”

“(…) the service/programme needs to be monitored and evaluated against its aims, continuously. Thus, continuous long-term implementation checks need to be planned, and possibilities to reflect and adapt contents and delivery modes of the programme need to be enabled. There may be differential adaptations necessary regarding dissimilar target groups and the aims and core areas of the programmes may also differ between target groups after a careful assessment of the specific and individual needs of different target and minority groups.”

Read executive summary

Download full report

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Article: Effects of home and preschool environments on language development

"Differential effects of home and preschool learning environments on early language development" is an article by  ISOTIS researcher Yvonne Anders (Free University of Berlin) and colleagues, published in the British Educational Research Journal.

The study focuses on the effects of both home and preschool learning environments on children's grammatical and vocabulary development. It is based on data from a German early childhood education and care governmental initiative.

Results indicated that the quality of the home learning environment predicted development in grammatical skills at age 4, but not in receptive vocabulary. The effects of preschool process quality showed similar relative impacts on both grammatical skills and receptive vocabulary. Results also indicated accumulated advantages of preschool quality for children from medium‐ and high‐quality home learning environments in their vocabulary development.

Link to the article:



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.

ISOTIS team meeting: The study of educational inequalities during the life course

On May 31st, the ISOTIS team addressing patterns and mechanisms regarding inequalities in educational careers met in Dublin. During this interdisciplinary meeting, our colleagues discussed which measurement and method to use to study how inequalities develop during the life course. They also discussed which policies could potentially tackle (the growing) inequalities.

This meeting occurred in the beautiful Trinity College. The group picture shows the team visiting the library. From left to right, the members are: Henrik Daae Zachrisson (University of Oslo), Thomas van Huizen (Utrecht University), Giampiero Passaretta (Trinity college), Jan Skopek (Trinity college) and Jesper Rözer (University of Amsterdam).

Our colleague Pauline Slot (Utrecht University), who is addressing professional development in the scope of the project, also visited the meeting.






Impact of social origin on educational achievement in Germany

"The social stratification of skills from infancy to adolescence – Evidence from an accelerated longitudinal design" is the title of the paper by ISOTIS researchers Giampiero Passaretta and Jan Skopek (Trinity College Dublin), presented at the II Convegno SISEC (Società Italiana di Sociologia Economica), in Milano, on January 26th.

According to the abstract:
“This paper examines the impact of social origin on educational achievement in Germany. Contrary to previous research, we reconstruct how achievement gaps in cognitive skills are unfolding from early childhood (7 months) to adolescence (age 16). Our theoretical background discusses two groups of counteracting mechanisms that favour social inequality in educational achievement to magnify or diminish as children age and navigate through school. Based on these theories, we expect social inequalities to magnify in the context of the highly stratifying German education system. Adopting an accelerated longitudinal design, our investigation exploits very recent multi-cohort test data collected by the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). Drawing upon approximately 50 tests done across the age span of 7 months to 16 years we are in the position to study the time evolution of social gaps in skills in unprecedented detail. We inspected composite measures of skills as well as domain-specific measures such as reading and math. Our findings point to striking a gap in skills between children from higher and lower educated parents which emerges long before school. Contrary to our expectations, these preschool gaps in relative terms remain astoundingly persistent throughout subsequent school career. By providing the most recent and comprehensive assessment of skill gaps in the literature, our study contributes adds to an emerging longitudinal research on skill gaps aiming to understand when and how social differences in skill arise in children.”

Read more about the conference.

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.


Inclusive curricula and educational practices: Presenting ISOTIS work at the ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon

Our colleague Cecília Aguiar (ISCTE) presented the work developed by the ISOTIS Curriculum and Pedagogy team at the CED Talks, ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon, on January 12. The presentation addressed the analyses on inclusive curriculum, pedagogy, and school climate interventions, aiming to describe key features and conditions for success, both in early childhood education and primary school.

PT: A nossa colega Cecília Aguiar apresentou o trabalho desenvolvido pela equipa do ISOTIS dedicada ao tema "currículo e pedagogia" no evento CED Talks, ISCTE-IUL, no dia 12 de janeiro. A apresentação focou as análises sobre intervenções inclusivas em termos de currículo, pedagogia e clima escolar, com o objetivo de descrever as principais condições para o sucesso, tanto na educação pré-escolar como no primeiro ciclo do ensino básico.

Presentation available here / Apresentação disponível aqui

Eating behaviors of children: Social inequities and the role of parental self-efficacy

Eating behaviors of toddlers and young children: Social inequities and the mediating role of parental self-efficacy (Gesundheitsverhalten von Kleinkindern: Soziale Ungleichheit und die Bedeutung der elterlichen Selbstwirksamkeitserwartung) is an article authored by ISOTIS researchers Franziska Wilke and Yvonne Anders (Free University of Berlin), and colleagues. It is published in the journal Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung.

"Results provide support for intervention program aiming at the enhancement of parental self-efficacy. This might be especially relevant for parents with immigrant background. The goal of such programs should be to reduce social disparities in health outcomes."

Read the abstract in English & Zusammenfassung auf Deutsch

Children in a Digital World by UNICEF

"The state of the world’s children 2017: Children in a digital world" is a recently released publication by UNICEF. It highlights that digital tools can offer children from diverse backgrounds opportunities to learn, socialize and make their voices heard. Read more about this publication.

ISOTIS is working on a Virtual Learning Environment accessible for children, to be use in the classroom and at home. We are currently focusing on the development of its content in order to support multilingualism, enhance parent-school partnerships and promote inclusiveness, taking into account its future use by parents, children and education professionals.

Article on evaluation of a nurse-led group support for mothers

"Randomized controlled trial and economic evaluation of nurse-led group support for young mothers during pregnancy and the first year postpartum versus usual care" is an article published in Trials, authored by ISOTIS researchers Jacqueline Barnes, Edward Melhuish and colleagues. This article focused on the evaluation of the new intervention Group Family Nurse Partnership (gFNP), aimed at young, expectant mothers. This study was designed to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of this intervention in reducing risk factors for maltreatment with a potentially vulnerable population.

Read full article

New article on selectivity of migration and educational disadvantages

"Selectivity of migration and the educational disadvantages of second-generation immigrants in ten host societies" is a recently published article by ISOTIS researcher Herman van de Werfhorst and colleague Anthony Heath in the European Journal of Population1.

According to the abstract of the article:
"Selectivity of migration varies significantly between ethnic/origin country groups, and between the destination countries which these groups have migrated to. Yet, little comparative research has measured empirically how selective different migrant groups are in multiple destination countries, nor has research studied whether the selectivity of migration is related to the magnitude of ethnic inequalities among the children of migrants in Western societies. We present an empirical measure of educational selectivity of migrants from many different origin countries having migrated to ten different destination countries. We examine whether selective migration of a particular ethnic group in a particular destination country is related to the gap between their children’s and native children’s educational outcomes. We find that the disadvantage in educational outcomes between the second generation and their peers from majority populations is smaller for ethnic groups that are more positively selected in terms of educational attainment. We also find some evidence that the effect of selective migration is moderated by the integration policies or tracking arrangements in the educational system in the destination country."

Read the full article.

1van de Werfhorst, H.G. & Heath, A. Eur J Population (2018).

New OECD publication on quality in early childhood education and care

"Engaging young children: Lessons from research about quality in early childhood education and care" is a new OECD publication. It addresses different dimensions of quality in early childhood education and care (ECEC). As stated here: "It draws lessons from a cross-national literature review and meta-analysis of the relationship between early childhood education and care structure (e.g. child-staff ratios, staff training and qualifications), process quality (i.e. the quality of staff-child interactions and developmental activities), and links to child development and learning."

One of the background studies is a literature review authored by ISOTIS researcher Pauline Slot (University of Utrecht). This review examines how structural and process aspects of ECEC quality are interrelated in the provisions of ECEC for children in the 0-5 age range, including centre- and family-based day care.

Read more and find the report

New article on continuous professional development

ISOTIS researchers Chiara Bove, Olga Wysłowska, Susanna Mantovani and Małgorzata Karwowska‐Struczyk, and colleagues, published the following article in the European Journal of Education: "How does innovative continuous professional development (CPD) operate in the ECEC sector? Insights from a cross-analysis of cases in Denmark, Italy and Poland".

According to the abstract:
"This article offers insights into what characterises innovative continuous professional development (CPD) in the field of early childhood education and care (ECEC) by analysing similarities and differences from case studies of exemplary approaches to innovative CPD in Denmark, Italy and Poland. The comparative analysis focuses on four features that are particularly relevant for innovation in CPD in the field of ECEC: the social dimension of innovation as a strengthening component; the benefit of dynamic learning processes aimed at integrating theory and practice; the role of key figures in the quality of CPD; and measurements of CPD impact, outcomes and sustainability.This analysis sheds light on the effects of dynamic factors (e.g., regular team-based reflection sessions based on documentation and observation), the importance of work conditions (e.g., contractual obligations to provide time for reflection), the critical role of pedagogical leaders(coordinators, principals and head teachers, supervisors), the importance of inter-organisational networking at a local level and the facilitating role of collaboration with research institutes."

The cases were part of the CARE project, a collaborative project funded by the EU to address issues related to quality, inclusiveness and benefits (individual, social, and economic) of ECEC in Europe.

Read the full article.

ISOTIS researcher Edward Melhuish in the UK Parliament

On March 20th, ISOTIS researcher Edward Melhuish (University of Oxford) participated in a meeting of the UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, on evidence-based early years intervention. He highlighted the importance of investing in early years, and addressed his review of the Sure Start programme. Edward Melhuish also presented ISOTIS.

Watch the footage of the meeting.

The ISOTIS team met to discuss project developments: VLE, promising educational practices and parent interviews

Between the 7th and 9th of March, the ISOTIS team met in the Utrecht University.

In the first day, the team discussed the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) proposed in the scope of the project. The team focused on how to develop its content in order to support multilingualism, enhance parent-school partnerships and promote inclusiveness in the classroom, taking into account its future use by parents, children and education professionals. In the next months, steps will be taken towards developing a user-centered platform.

In the same day, ISOTIS research Cecília Aguiar (ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa) led a meeting on the case studies of promising inclusive curricula and educational practices. The goal is to collect knowledge on key ingredients of effective approaches aiming to reduce educational inequalities through curriculum design and implementation, classroom practices, and/or school social climate, both in early childhood education and primary school. These case-studies will be conducted in England, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and Italy. The studies will involve interviews with key staff and parents, and will capture children's perspectives, as well as analyses of documentation and published data, whenever available. During the meeting in Utrecht, the team discussed the interview guidelines and case study timeline.

On March 8, the team addressed the progress of the large structured interview study with parents who have a Turkish, Moroccan, Romani or lower-SES native background, and a 3-6 or 9-12-year-old child. We are asking parents about issues related to bringing up their children – their experiences with educational systems and support services, their hopes and wishes for their children, their resources and support needs. At this moment, the team has conducted almost 2000 interviews across Europe! During the meeting, the researchers shared challenges and good practices in each of the countries regarding the interviews, and gathered valuable input on the possible diversification of strategies to recruit families for the study.

The team will also conduct a smaller number of in-depth interviews with parents who participated in the large structured interview study, aiming to collect additional information on the experiences related to children’s education and upbringing. The first pilot interviews were already conducted, and the participating parents were very enthusiastic and happy to share their story! On March 9, the team analysed some of the information collected and exchanged some tips to further improve the interview procedures. The team-members were inspired by the richness of the data, and are excited about the new insights they will gain through these studies.  

New ISOTIS report on curriculum, pedagogy, and social climate interventions

ISOTIS has a new report: "Inventory and analysis of promising curriculum, pedagogy, and social climate interventions tackling inequalities" by Cecília Aguiar, Carla Sofia Silva, Rita Guerra, Ricardo Borges Rodrigues, Luísa Ribeiro, Giulia Pastori and the ISOTIS curriculum and pedagogy team.

“In this report, we identify, describe, and critically analyse promising interventions used in eight European countries to target social and educational inequalities through curriculum, pedagogy, and school social climate. Specifically, we conducted an inventory of promising interventions, within the classroom and school microsystems, aiming to promote educational equality and belongingness for immigrant, Roma, and low-income children attending early childhood and primary education provision in the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal.”

"Based on our findings, increased support for immigrant and minority students’ heritage language and culture, while promoting positive contact and interactions between majority and minority children, seems to be a first key step towards designing and implementing transformative interventions that positively impact belongingness, wellbeing, social cohesion, learning, and lifetime success."

Read the full abstract.

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