Category Archives: Publications

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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."

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New ISOTIS report on professional development and models related to inclusiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more:
Executive summary
Full report

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

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

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

Find out more on this book here.

ISOTIS new report on educational inequalities by socioeconomic and migration background

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

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

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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
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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
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Download the full reports from our library.