Immigrant children feel at home in Canada: OECD report


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Canada is one of the leading countries in which immigrant children feel at home in their new schools, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported today.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/12/2015 (2732 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Canada is one of the leading countries in which immigrant children feel at home in their new schools, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported today.

The OECD almost reported that data collected while conducting testing of children in developed countries found that the socioeconomic status of schools is a key factor in immigrant students’ success — the higher the better.

But, the OCED found, the number of immigrant children entering a school does not affect their academic performance.

The OECD urged schools, now welcoming thousands of refugee Syrian children, to enrol students in language classes held in a regular classroom setting as soon as possible.

The report, Immigrant Students at School: Easing the Journey towards Integration, finds no link between the share of immigrant students and the performance of school systems. It is the socio-economic status of students that makes the most difference, rather than their immigrant backgrounds, as schools with larger concentrations of immigrant students are often located in poor neighbourhoods, the OECD said.

“In the United States, for example, 21 per cent of all students have an immigrant background, but 40 per cent of the students in disadvantaged schools do.”

Today’s report also compares how migrant children feel a sense of belonging at school: in Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal, first-generation immigrant students expressed the most alienation from education systems as compared to students without an immigrant background.

“Integration unfolds over time in Luxembourg, Norway and Spain, where second-generation immigrant students expressed a stronger sense of belonging at school than first-generation immigrant students.,” said the OECD.

“In Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Qatar, the percentages of both first- and second-generation immigrant students who reported that they feel they belong at school were higher than the percentage of non-immigrant students who so reported. All four of these countries adopt highly selective immigration policies.”

The report said that changes in the performance of immigrant students over time also suggest that education policies complement social policies in fostering integration. In less than one decade, for example, Germany managed to reduce the share of underperforming immigrant students by 11 percentage points and improve the mathematics performance of second-generation immigrant students by 46 score points – the equivalent of more than one year of formal schooling.

“Education policies that encourage academic inclusion and offer language-support programmes at school can help to smooth integration for first-generation immigrants, making integration that much easier, in turn, for their children. Overcoming language barriers was seen to be critical — and the report said pupils did much better if they were immersed within mainstream lessons, rather than being taught separately with other language learners,” the OECD found.

The report contains a series of recommendations on how education systems can help immigrant students to integrate into their new communities:

Immediate policy responses:

  • Provide sustained language support, within regular classrooms as soon as it becomes feasible;
  • Encourage immigrant parents to enrol their young children in high-quality early childhood education;
  • Build the capacity of all schools attended by immigrant students.

High-impact, medium-term responses:

  • Avoid concentrating students with an immigrant background in disadvantaged schools;
  • Avoid ability grouping, early tracking and grade repetition;
  • Provide extra support and guidance to immigrant parents.

Responses to strengthen integration:

  • Support innovation and experimentation, evaluate results and target funding to what works;
  • Demonstrate the value of cultural diversity;
  • Monitor progress.

The full report is available here.

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