Moving Education Policies around Immigration from the Aspirational to the Realised?

Intercultural Community Based Evaluation and Planning in Five EU Countries


Multiculturalism, linguistic and cultural diversity, integration of migrants in the host countries, inter-culturalism, inclusion and assimilation have been the predominant themes of intellectual, social and educational discourse for the past three to four decades in Europe. Education systems have largely been reactive towards the challenges that emerged due to ever-increasing linguistic and cultural diversity in schools therefore, the steps taken do not measure up to the actual needs. Intercultural community-based evaluation and planning is a multidimensional concept that encompasses inter-culturalism, inter-agency collaboration or community networking for planning, implementing and evaluating endeavours that promote intercultural understanding in schools. A meta-analysis is conducted focused on creating a profile of ICCEP policies, practices and supports in the five European countries as it currently exists.

Keywords: intercultural, diversity, inter-agency collaboration, evaluation

Introduction and Background

Multiculturalism, lingual and cultural diversity, integration of migrants in the host countries, inter-culturalism, inclusion and assimilation have been the predominant themes of intellectual, social and educational discourse for the past three to four decades in Europe. Concurrently, a steady influx of migrants for political, economic and social reasons from across the globe continues to transform the population demographics in the European countries. Schools being a microcosm of the society, reflect this ever-changing societal landscape and consequently, 12% of the overall population of school-going children (under the age of 15 years) in Ireland, 8.2% in Austria, 7.7% in Norway and 4.6% in Spain (Eurydice, 2019, p.39) are from a migration background. Similarly, almost one million Syrian refugee children in Turkey are of school-going age (UNICEF, 2019). Whilst the role of education systems in these processes is acknowledged in both academic literature (Crul et al., 2012) as well as various transnational reports, the potential of migrant children is not understood, is undervalued and not supported and developed (De Paola & Brunello, 2016).  Indeed, second-generation migrant students are systematically disadvantaged as against their native peers across EU countries (OECD, 2018) Similarly, the percentage of early school leavers is significantly higher among migration background students in most European countries than native students (Eurydice, 2019).

Education systems have mainly been reactive towards the challenges that emerged due to ever-increasing linguistic and cultural diversity in schools and, therefore, the steps taken do not measure up to the actual needs. Studying integration practices over the decades, it becomes clear that there is a need to move far beyond existing approaches to consider a collaborative and community-based approach to promote and support inter-culturalism in schools. Ensuring parity of opportunity, equity in educational success, psychosocial well-being and life-long learning of a diverse group of children and young people in schools and community at large cannot be thrust upon the school leaders and teachers only. There is a need for a system-level approach and collaboration of community stakeholders. Yet as we shall see in these examples the focus remains largely on schools and in particular school leaders and teachers and the development of ‘skill sets’ to provide conditions conducive to improved educational provision for migrant students. While this in itself is of some value and justifies the paper, we are acutely aware that this research has little to say about the major national levers of policy such as society wide anti- racism efforts, substantial curriculum reform, quotas of ethnic minorities in teaching etc.– initiatives that might really impact on the lived experiences of migrant students. One must infer that these type of radical initiatives go beyond the bounds of what is actually considered possible and the responsibility is simply passed to the schools.

This study which is part of a European Union-funded project entitled Intercultural Community-based Evaluation and Planning in Schools (ICCEP) examines the scope for community-based collaborations’ planning, implementation and evaluation by mapping out the policies and practices that support or hinder ICCEP in five European countries, Austria, Ireland, Norway, Spain and Turkey. The study also aims to explore the existing practices of Educational networks in these countries.

We begin with the review of the academic literature to clarify the meaning of intercultural community-based evaluation and planning before discussing its significance in creating inclusionary school communities where all cohorts of students achieve and flourish. After presenting our method, we move on to present a comparative analysis of National and Transnational practices and policies that support or hinder ICCEP in each partner country (Table 1). Next, we report the existing exemplars of school clusters or educational networks, trends in network evaluation and planning and the role of quality assurance agencies and other bodies in promoting quality education in schools (Table 2). Particular attention will be paid to the extent the systems indicate some scope and structures for ICCEP. Finally, in the conclusion, we argue that, although policies and regulations in all partner countries support inclusive schools and communities, the implementation mechanisms are too sluggish to translate these policies into the best practices. Further, there may not be a model ICCEP project in any of these countries, projects such as QUIMS (Austria), Leadership Clusters (Ireland) and MUSE (Spain) however, possess many features of inter-agency collaboration and evaluation thus, promising  scope for ICCEP.

Understanding ICCEP

ICCEP is a multidimensional concept that encompasses inter-culturalism, inter-agency collaboration or community networking for planning, implementing and evaluating endeavours that promote intercultural inter-action in schools. The concept involves developing quality assurance and educational governance processes that support equity and inclusion in networked school communities of mixed heritage. Germane to the overall concept of network governance, the current European milieu of educational reform requires that schools collaborate and review their efforts along with other stakeholder groups to fill the gaps in practice such as transition arrangements from primary to secondary schools that cannot be solved when working in isolation (Brown, McNamara, O’Hara et al., 2020). In the case of ICCEP, the focus is on inclusion, equity of participation and parity of opportunity for the migration background students.  Indeed, several attempts have been made at the local, then national and now at the EU level to understand processes of transformation into an inclusive society and to devise policies to manage and steer accordingly (Scholten et al., 2015). Therefore, we prefer not to speak about ‘migrant integration’ as if it was the migrants that had to do something right to successfully integrate but we want to conceptualise the processes as the transformation of the whole local community with the goal of equity and inclusion of all members.

Education is key to equity and inclusion in a society of migration (Fahey et al., 2019). Education plays a critical role in social participation and the economic mobility of migrant families as it is through education opportunities that participation in all domains of the society, especially, the labour-market open up and increase. This extends to the domain of political participation, cultural participation and even health issues. However, education can also serve the goal to become more tolerant of differencesand better understand societal norms (OECD, 2019; Eurydice, 2019). Therefore, measures are being undertaken across Europe and beyond to develop education systems that embrace diversity and support the learning and well-being of diverse student populations. 

Schools are also uniquely positioned to encourage intercultural sensitivity and respect by allowing students to engage in experiences that foster an appreciation for diverse peoples, languages and cultures and enhance young people’s ability to understand their place in the community and the world (OECD, 2018, p.4). However, even in schools, some educators – often in their focussing on the language of instruction (Herzog-Punzenberger et al., 2020) – tend to see in their students mainly what they lack, thereby – willingly or unwillingly – reinforcing stereotypical perceptions and biases towards migrant groups and a ‘deficit’ view of diversity. Additionally, ‘the lack of structures for pedagogical and social provision in the mainstream system, risks leaving students to their own devices and creates leeway for a deficit-paradigm that places the responsibility and blame on the individual for not succeeding in school’ (Nilsson & Axelsson, 2013, p. 160). Schools reflect the wider community and if anti-immigrant sentiments are extensive in society, it has to face the situation while simultaneously struggling to make the immigrant students feel valued and cared for.

Inter-culturalism as Emerson (2011) defines it is ‘sympathetic and respectful towards ethno-cultural- religious minorities and helpful with selected measures targeted at disadvantaged situations, yet it also aims at ensuring commitment to the values, history and traditions of the host nation’ (p.2). Inter-culturalism as a variety of equity and inclusion with special attention to a cultural dimension is manifested in the school environment, the behaviour and attitudes of the adults and students in the schools, schools’ policies and procedures and the way that the curriculum is designed and implemented. A warm and welcoming environment where every child feels respected, included and valued is a hallmark of equitable, inclusive and therefore also intercultural schools.

To build intercultural communication in schools, quality and reciprocity of relationships are essential. Furthermore, school policies such as the school ethos statement and behaviour and enrolment policies must have an intercultural dimension. In curriculum implementation, the expectation is to promote and develop dispositions and skills such as ‘empathy, moral reasoning, peaceful conflict resolution skills, understanding and respect for difference, the ability to recognise bias and discrimination, the ability to make a difference and the activation of values such as respect, equality and justice’ (McKinley et al., 2010, p. 6).  However, developing these dispositions and skills may not demand the introduction of new subjects and teaching strategies; instead, as Haran and Tormey (2002) suggest, there is a need for ‘extension and deepening’ of existing teaching and learning methods.

In ICCEP, the stakeholders that form a school cluster or an educational network are schools in the networks, their leaders, staff and students, parents and families (individuals or groups), local organisations, government departments/regional or municipal offices, or others who are interested or affected by what is being developed and evaluated.

These stakeholders according to their power, influence and interest in the evaluation, can broadly be grouped into three categories:

  • People with lived experience, e.g. students, parents, teachers, school heads
  • Influencers (are individuals who impact the lives of those with lived experiences), e.g. school heads, local authorities, city councillors and local business leaders; and 
  • Sustainers (those who have the power or resources to make changes) e.g. Department of Education, Inspectorate, sectoral support agencies and Taxpayers (Centre for Community Based Research, 2019).

ICCEP, therefore, involves a combination of stakeholders from all three categories in planning, implementing and evaluating the school improvement endeavours.

Therefore, to evaluate these networks’ efforts in promoting inter-culturalism and consequently, equity and inclusion of students with migration background a stakeholder-driven model of community-based evaluation is envisaged. The community-based development and evaluation modelrefers to a philosophy of inquiry that encourages active participation in the evaluation process from all involved communities (Cockerill et al., 2000). As the definition implies, this evaluation is not just stakeholder-driven; it is participatory and action-oriented as well. The evaluation process is directed by stakeholder values and priorities (Centre for Community Based Research, 2019).

Significance of ICCEP

For the effective development of inclusion, it is not possible for schools to work in isolation but requires the support of the local community, parents and families and networks of professionals (cf. Ainscow, 2020).  Indeed, engaging parents, families and communities in education, as demonstrated in research, positively influences students’ learning and achievement (Desforges & Abouchaar, 2003; Harris & Goodall, 2008; Bryk et al., 2010; Povey et al., 2016). The more parents or guardians and families are involved in the child’s learning process the better and stronger relationship, mutual confidence and understanding are built between schools and families. Indeed, Ruggs and Hebl (2012) argue that if parents are unable to support their children in education adequately, it is mainly because they are not involved in the educational system and community. It is the responsibility of the education systems to enhance opportunities for parents regardless of their level of education and socio-economic background to be involved in their children’s learning and eventually in school improvement.

Collaboration with the school community and among a network of professionals is crucial for any endeavour of school improvement. As Brown, McNamara, O’Hara et al. (2020) argue, schools after having reached a certain quality threshold cannot further improve their teaching and learning unless they collaborate and make a coordinated effort as school networks.

In times of profound change (for example, as a result of the changes in the governance of schooling, as exemplified  by new accountability strategies, but also by growing diversity), the need for new patterns of coordination arises (Hoyle, 1982) and ‘networking’ is a strategy to cope with these challenges (Altrichter, 2014). Therefore, we see initiatives in many places in Europe in which schools, community members, regional offices and parents join forces to collaborate in ‘Regional Educational Landscapes’ to improve their services for students and the whole community, but also to better understand what elements, conditions, and processes make these services supportive (Berkemeyer et al., 2009; Hadfield, & Jopling, 2011).

Networking deepens the learning and engagement of students and adults, enhances the professional capital of teachers and leaders; and in the correct environment, becomes a positive force of whole system improvement (Rincón-Gallardo & Fullan, 2015). Chapman (2019) explains the benefits of networks and how they function,

Networks entail collaborative working between schools and between schools and other agencies, facilitating access to new ideas and innovative ways of working. This work can take a variety of forms, for example, collaborative research and enquiry, shared professional development and professional peer review; often the selection and mix of activities depends on a combination of locally determined and national priorities (p.554-555).

Collaboration among children and families, communities and schools in the presence of supportive state policies and resources, helps build the inclusive formal, non-formal and informal learning environments in schools and outside the schools thus, ensuring that students feel safe at school, develop a sense of belonging, and are engaged and motivated. Darling-Hammond and Cook-Harvey (2018) term this scenario as a whole-child ecosystem. The stronger the teamwork among these stakeholder groups, the more robust is the whole-child ecosystem.

Research Method

The main methodologies used for this study are literature review and document analysis. The meta-analysis is focused on creating a profile of ICCEP policies, practices and supports in the five partner countries as they currently exist. The sources of analysis included policy documents, legislation, academic literature and other documentation associated with the integration of migration/minority students. In deciding the documentary sources, the selection criteria of authenticity, credibility, representativeness and meaning are strictly adhered to (Fitzgerald, 2007). The documents used were authentic as they were prepared by the government agencies; credible as they were developed independently and beforehand for the government officials and general public and not for the benefit of the researcher; representative of the themes that we were exploring  and finally, these documents described the regulations and policies and did not express any opinions or interpretations.

The search for literature review articles was guided by the terms inter-culturalism, inclusion, integration and migration background/refugee students. 

In the first round of analysis, the focus had been on the supports for ICCEP through the analysis of national and transnational policies and practices while the second round mapped out the existing educational networks and school clustering with regards to how are they initiated, planned, implemented, monitored and evaluated. Each partner country prepared an ICCEP Profile for their country which was later collated as a combined report. 

Policies and Supports for ICCEP

The European Commission’s action plans for integration 2021 – 2027 and against racism 2021 – 2025 reiterate the role of education in effective integration and reducing racial stereotyping and prejudices (European Commission, 2020a, 2020b). ‘Education is the foundation for successful participation in society and one of the most powerful tools for building more inclusive societies’ (European Commission, 2020a, p.8). However, the education systems across Europe face several challenges while mainstreaming migration background students into schools such as, provision of support for learning the language of instruction and/or learning in general, retention in the education system, combating segregation and ensuring educational success (Eurydice Report, 2019). The education systems, though with varying degrees of success, have risen to meet these challenges and developed support mechanisms.

Proficiency in the language of the host country is the first and foremost indicator of integration. Students’ access to education, motivation to learn and attitude towards learning and community at large, depend essentially on their knowledge of the language of Instruction (Eurydice, 2019; Fahey et al., 2019).

In Austria, Ireland, Spain and Turkey, students whose first language is not the language of instruction are allowed to join mainstream classes following enrolment. However, in Austria, students join the mainstream classes only for the subjects that do not require a high level of language proficiency, for example, Physical Education and Arts according to their age group (BMBF, 2016; Eurydice, 2019, p. 83) and German language support classes (Deutschförderklassen) are offered simultaneously to build their proficiency in the German language for nearly five hours per week.

In Ireland, since 2005, the teaching of English as an additional language (EAL) became policy when it appeared as one of the objectives in the National Action Plan Against Racism: Planning for Diversity (Department of Justice, Equality and Law reform, 2005). Subsequent to this, the National Council of Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) published support materials and guideline for EAL teaching and learning, while circulars (Circulars 0053/2007 & 0015/2009) from the Department of Education and Skills (DES) endorsed its significance and implementation mechanism. EAL support is provided both within the mainstream classes or through withdrawal (DES, 2012).

In Spain, the Organic Law/2020, of December 29, amending Organic Law of 2/2006, stresses the language learning needs of the students with no or limited proficiency in the language of instruction. Along with Spanish, in several autonomous communities, the regional languages enjoy the status of an official language ((Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Galicia, the Basque Country and Valencia) and the language support mechanism is similar to that of Ireland.

Section 2-8 of the Norwegian Education Act (2003), makes it obligatory for the municipalities to give students, in primary and lower secondary education, whose first language is neither Norwegian nor Sami specialised tuition in their mother tongue, bilingual subject instruction and special education in the Norwegian language until they have acquired the proficiency to enable them to follow the mainstream classes. This regulation applies to private and public schools alike. However, no criteria are laid down in the regulation for the requisite language proficiency that a student must achieve to be entitled to follow the mainstream classes and based on teacher assessment, it is decided if the student has attained the adequate level (Ministry of Education and Research, 2003, p.16, Kambel, 2014).

In Turkey, children in grades 1 and 2 are directly integrated into the mainstream classes, while for grades 3 -12, students with inadequate proficiency in the Turkish language are offered language adaptation classes along with mainstream learning. Such classes are also offered online through the Education Information Network – EBA (Tugrul, 2020). An EU funded project, Integration of Syrian Children into Turkish Education System (PIKTES), provides language learning materials and training to teachers to support students’ Turkish language acquisition. 

The duration of language support lessons in Austria, Ireland, Norway and Spain depends on the students’ needs and in some cases, the support can be provided for two years while in Turkey, Turkish adaptation classes continue for a year.

Support for Home Languages

The benefits and relevance of home languages in literacy development and academic success cannot be denied and additionally, valuing home languages leads to improved social cohesion. In Busch’s (2011) model of multilingualism, three objectives are particularly relevant to learning migrant students’ home languages as it

  • Facilitates transition to the dominant language;
  • Supports individual’s/groups’ language or culture maintenance and literacy acquisition; and
  • Fosters bi- and multilingualism for all learners (p. 546 – 547).  

In Austria, nearly 25 home languages are offered as optional subjects or optional exercises (unverbindliche Übungen) either as separate classes or integrated into the general schedule of schools. The most common languages offered include Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Turkish. However, to organise classes for a particular language, there have to be more than five students opting for it. These languages are taught by teachers who are native speakers of these languages alongside the class teachers (BMBF, 2016, p.12; Dumčius, et al., 2013, p.96).

Language Connect-Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017 – 2026 (DES, 2017) encompasses all three aspects of the Busch model. Firstly, the policy supports learning of home languages as it promotes proficiency in the language of instruction; secondly, it acknowledges the significance of diverse languages and their respective culture for an inclusive society and thirdly, it emphasises learning of various modern languages to develop multilingual human resource to compete on the global arena. Quite recently, a Draft Primary Curriculum Framework[1] is developed with extensive consultation of all stakeholder groups in which modern foreign languages are introduced at stages 3 and 4 to ‘acknowledge and harness the diversity of languages spoken in Irish primary schools’ (NCCA, 2020). At the post-primary level, however, several European and other languages are offered as optional subjects for a long while (Brown et al., 2021).

Norway has always been plurilingual with Bokmål Norwegian, Nynorsk Norwegian and Sami as official languages and English has also been a compulsory subject for nearly four decades (Ministry of Education and Research, 2003). The regulations allow mother tongue education for migrant students with little or no Norwegian, intending to develop their proficiency in the Norwegian language, not the mother tongue per se. (Iversen, 2020; Kambel, 2014). According to Kambel (2014), the number of students entitled to mother tongue education is quite large, but as parents are not aware of the possibilities, and don’t react, nothing happens (p. 36). The teaching of foreign languages is limited to French, German and Spanish (Ministry of Education and Research, 2003).

Communidad Autónoma de Castilla-La Mancha and the Communidad Autónoma La Rioja, in Spain, are classic examples of the second objective of the Busch Model. Both regions have large Romanian and Moroccan communities and to meet the learning needs of the students, teacher training programmes are developed in collaboration with the Government of Romania and the Kingdom of Morocco to provide Romanian and Arabic tuition for the children by trained native speaker teachers. Also, in Comunidad Autónoma de Cataluña Arabic, Portuguese, and Romanian are offered as optional subjects in secondary education (Eurydice, 2019) since 2016-17. 

In Turkey, under the PIKTES Project, Arabic language tuition is also arranged, in and out of school, for Syrian children in addition to, offering Turkish language support classes to enhance their proficiency in their mother tongue (Akyuz, et al., 2018). A document released by the Ministry of Education (2016) mentioned that Syrian students are allowed to take courses in their native language to maintain their ethnic and cultural identities. 

Preparing teachers for culturally diverse learning environments

The Teachers’ Competence Framework 2016-17, in Austria, is a first step towards ensuring teachers’ preparedness with regards to multilingualism, intercultural education and pedagogy in the context of migration (Eurydice, 2019, p.116). The Austrian Constitutional Law 2005 mentions the general goals of equity of educational provision, and the political discourse also refers to support for migrant students and the need for intercultural competence among teachers (Regierungsprogramm der österreichischen Bundesregierung, 2008, p. 207). However, despite the policy framework no concrete steps have been taken to reform  initial teacher education (ITE).  Various political parties and actors cannot reach a consensus regarding measures needed to upgrade ITE with a view to achieving equity and inclusion in education since in Austria, and indeed in the other research partner countries, radical or innovative ‘concessions’ to migrants are deeply contested and controversial.

The Migrant Integration Strategy, Ireland, (Department of Justice and Equality, 2016) includes teacher training for multicultural and multilingual classrooms and engaging migrants in teaching. Two noteworthy examples are, The Development and Intercultural Education (DICE) Project and the Being a Teacher in Ireland Bridging Programme at the Marino Institute of Education. Through DICE, a consortium of higher education institutions is facilitating primary teacher educators and student teachers to incorporate intercultural perspective and themes in ITE programmes for primary teachers. The Department of Justice and Equality, in collaboration with the DES, is running the bridging programme for teachers from immigrant backgrounds who hold international teaching qualifications, to enable them to gain employment in Ireland (McGinnity et al., 2020). Quite interestingly, there is a disclaimer on the programme’s web page, this course does not address specific shortfalls identified in the Teaching Council registration process and does not provide a guarantee of employment’[2] (MIE, 2022a). Additionally, EAL is widely recognised in ITE programmes in Ireland (OECD, 2010).  

Extensive reforms were introduced in teacher education programmes in Norway in 2017 and the teacher education institutions have revised their programmes in the light of national guidelines and regulations (Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions, 2016). In the new policy, the government has reiterated the need to enhance multicultural perspective in teaching and to prepare teachers for working in multilingual classrooms (Ministry of Education and Research, 2016; The Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions, 2016). However, Iversen (2020) in his study concerning multilingualism in mainstream classes in Norway found that most student teachers hesitated to acknowledge the linguistic diversity in their classrooms and rarely initiated any activities that celebrated, included, or capitalised on those multilingual resources (p.56).

The Institute for Teacher Training and Educational Research and Innovation (IFIIE) in Spain, offers ITE and CPD programmes that comprise themes such as inclusive education, students’ diversity and intercultural education. The Communidad Autónoma de Castilla-La Mancha and the Communidad Autónoma La Rioja working with the Moroccan and Romanian governments have developed the Arabic and Moroccan Culture Teaching Programme (LACM) and the Romanian Language, Culture and Civilization Teaching programme (LCCR) respectively. Teachers on these programmes qualify under the Moroccan and Romanian teacher education systems to teach Moroccan and Romanian students in Spanish schools.

In Turkey, several orientation workshops on psychological support, working with children who have experienced trauma, conflict resolution, guidance and counselling, instruction methods (Akyuz, et al., 2018) are organised for teachers and school administrators to sensitise and prepare them to meet Syrian students learning and psychosocial needs. Distance education and training programmes, due to the covid-19 pandemic, are also organised for teachers of Turkish Adaptation Classes (Tuğrul, 2020). Nevertheless, several research studies (see, for example, Aydin & Kaya 2017; Imamoğlu & Çalışkan, 2017; Tösten et al., 2017; Yasar & Amac, 2018) criticise these interventions for being highly theoretical and inadequate to train teachers to teach refugee or asylum seeker students. 

Inter-culturalism in the school Curriculum

For the school curriculum to be responsive to cultural and lingual diversity and to foster inclusion, it is crucial to include perspectives, models and information from a variety of cultures and groups in curriculum and teaching materials and by removing cultural and a strong cultural bias in assessment (Janta & Harte, 2016).

For the past few years, curriculum reform is underway in Austria and the Ministry of Education has commissioned several subject-specific groups of teacher educators from Austrian universities to revise the curriculum and reduce curriculum overload. Intercultural education is incorporated as a cross-curricular theme in the Austrian national curriculum and the subjects through which intercultural competencies are to be developed are also mentioned in the instructional framework (Eurydice, 2019). The framework presents several cross-curricular principles, however, they are rarely implemented (Luciak & Khan‐Svik, 2008). These principles are also not included in initial teacher education, consequently, teachers’ knowledge and understanding of these principles vary widely and result in disparate practices of intercultural learning in schools (Binder, 2002; Binder & Daryabegi, 2003).

In the case of Ireland, the NCCA, a state agency that works in close collaboration with the DES for developing curriculum content has published comprehensive guidelines on Intercultural education for primary (NCCA, 2005) and post-primary schools (NCCA, 2006). However, according to Parker-Jenkins and Masterson (2013), in the Irish school curriculum, the element of cultural diversity is not mandatory in practice, which causes a lack of balance and diversity in teaching practice. They recommend collaboration between state and schools to embed education for diversity into the core curriculum along with arrangements for assessment (p.487). In line with their recommendations, the Draft Primary Curriculum Framework 2020 is developed in consultation with schools and one of the eight principles[3] that schools need to consider for teaching and learning is Inclusive Education and Diversity.

In Norway, the Directorate of Education and Training is responsible for curriculum development. The new curriculum for primary and secondary school will be implemented during the academic year 2020-2021. The renewed curriculum is developed in response to rapid changes in society and in almost all core curriculum values diversity is acknowledged and appreciated (OECD, 2020). Normand (2021) maintains that to align with the new curriculum, approximately one-fifth of the textbooks and teaching materials are dedicated to the notion of culture. The teaching materials, the classroom environment and teaching methods, as well as attitudes, have become more inclusive of diversity (p.137).

School curricula both for Primary and Secondary in Spain are developed jointly by national and regional education authorities. The national Ministry of Education decides the main framework of the curriculum, for example, which subjects should be taught at each stage and grade and the regional educational authorities develop the curriculum (specific aims, contents, and assessment) for each of their territories (Ministerio de Educación, 2011). According to the Eurydice Report (2019), intercultural education is promoted as a cross-curricular theme (in Communidad Autónoma de Cataluña), and the subjects through which it is to be developed are also mentioned in the curricula.

In the case of Turkey, in Temporary Education Centres, Syrian children are taught the Syrian curriculum and the medium of instruction is Arabic. However, on realising a risk of creating a marginalised society, the Government of Turkey has decided to integrate all Syrian children into Turkish Public schools as part of a three-year plan (Gümüş, et al., 2020). For this purpose, the Turkish school curriculum is being revised for Syrian children and this responsibility, too, is taken up under the aegis of what is referred to as the PIKTES project.

School Segregation

According to a position paper of the Council of Europe (2017), migration background and refugee children experience school segregation in many European countries, as they are often taught in schools with a disproportionately high presence of other migrant children. These schools often have inadequate resources and teachers are left to struggle on their own to address the specific learning needs of migrant pupils (p.9).

In Austria students are legally entitled to be admitted to the district (primary) school closest to their place of residence. Provincial legislation, however, allows students to be admitted to schools in other districts if they have special needs or parents want them to be enrolled in international schools. The concentration of migrants in some geographical locations, the restricted parental choice for schools and special German language support classes appear to be the prime causes of segregation. Socio-economic status, migration background and proficiency of the German language, according to Bruneforth et al. (2015), result in segregation of migration background students between schools as well as within schools.

In Ireland, a wide variety of schools to choose from is allowed –that is to say parents are not required to enrol their children in their nearest school and enrolment policy allows parents a free choice to select the school for their children to attend (McCormack et al., 2020, Ledwith, 2017). Choice of course, while appearing very positive and democratic, gives native parents an upper hand as a result of being better informed, wealthier and more mobile. While deciding on a school for their children, parents are quite likely to take into account the race, religion and socio-economic status of the school’s intake (Oireachtas Library and Research Service, 2015), which naturally results in the  clustering of poorer and ethnic minority students in particular schools. Moreover, the Education (Admission to Schools) (Amendment) Act 2020, allows schools to use their admission policies which favour some groups over others, for examples, 25% of school places can be prioritised for children/grandchildren of the alumni (DES, 2020). Also, in the event of an oversubscribed school, a school can base its selection on its own criteria such as student’s performance, distance to school and hence, reinforces segregation.  Segregated housing policies result in particular schools serving highly selective vulnerable/privileged groups to the exclusion of others (Houses of the Oireachtas, 2019). Immigrants’ residential generally being socially disadvantaged suburbs, result in clustering of migration background students in the schools belonging to that particular area.

According to an OECD review, in Norway, especially in major urban areas such as Oslo and Bergen, non-Western districts are gradually emerging where large percentages of immigrant students attend school (Taguma, 2009). Further, Bendixsen and Danielsen (2020), in a study with migrant parents, learnt that the areas where these parents are given municipal housing are often socially and economically challenging and migrant children are automatically enrolled in their local school (Dumčius, et al., 2013, p.52). Hence, the school segregation index in Norway is (0.36) which means 36% of immigrant students need to be moved to achieve equal representation in all schools (OECD, 2019).

In Spain, Zinovyeva et al. (2009) assert that first-generation migrant students are 50% more likely to study in public schools. Likewise, fewer second-generation migrant students are enrolled in grant-aided schools. Also, on average, a migration background student has four times more immigrant classmates than a native student. As compared to Ireland and Norway, according to an OECD report (2019), Spain has a higher isolation index (0.38) regarding segregation of immigrant students.[4]

School segregation in Turkey is not entirely different from other partner countries. Avoiding the ravages of civil war, when Syrian refugees started arriving in Turkey in multitudes, the Government of Turkey’s response has been quite humanitarian. Nonetheless, the school catchment area system is the major reason for school segregation in Turkey. Generally speaking, Syrian refugees are clustered in neighbourhoods with low rental rates or areas with a high concentration of Syrian refugees (Savran &Sat, 2019; Şimşek, 2018). Their children also attend the local schools in these areas resulting in segregation and thus, hindering their adaptation to the Turkish Education System.

Engagement of migrant parents with schools

A strong relationship between parents and schools, regardless of parents social and legal status, benefits students’ holistic development. As has been shown, parents’ involvement in their child’s learning enhances student outcomes: attendance, behaviour, school retention, academic achievement, and wellbeing (Brown, McNamara, O’Brien et al. 2020; Povey et al., 2016). However, certain common barriers restrict immigrant parents from being actively involved in their children’s education such as a lack of formal education, low proficiency of the host language, lack of knowledge of the mainstream culture and school systems, and time constraints due to work and family responsibilities (Janta & Harte, 2016).

In Austria, the formation of Parents’ Associations is a legal requirement for every school. These associations, chaired by the school principal, have limited and fixed representation of parents, teachers and students (Sliwka & Istance, 2006). Singh (2020), in her study with Indian mothers in Vienna, found that language proficiency and lack of knowledge of the school system negatively impact on their communication with the school. Parent-teacher cooperation is only moderately developed and no particular effort is made to reach out to parents of migration background students. Indeed, parent-teacher associations are mostly seen as service organisations to help schools in organising events and trips; teachers tend to regard the parents in these associations as assistants rather than stakeholders (Sliwka & Istance, 2006, p. 35).

In the Irish Constitution (Education Act 1998), it is the primary responsibility of the parents to educate their children. There are several organisations and schemes such as the Child and Family Agency, Parents’ associations, National Parents Councils, Boards of management and Home School Community Liaison Scheme to name but a few which provide support and information to parents pertaining to their children’s education. The circulars on parents as partners in education: 24/91 (primary schools) and M27/91 (post-primary schools) recognise parents and schools as key educators in a child’s life (DES, 2006a; 2006b). However, in Ireland, migrant students are not recognised as a specific target group and there is a comprehensive support system that is meant to respond to the individual needs of all students (Eurydice, 2019). Similarly, there is no regulation or policy that focuses exclusively on supporting migrant parents. Nonetheless, there is no restriction on the schools to reach out to such parents and offer specific support in a proactive manner.  

The Norwegian regulation promotes parents’ participation in schools and their child’s learning. The Regulations to the Education Act § 20-1 affirms that the cooperation between parents and schools should focus on a child’s academic and social development (Bendixsen & Danielsen, 2020). Parents’ formal rights to influence schools in Norway, according to Danielsen and Bendixsen (2019) have increased from 2006 onwards, as part of the democratisation and neo-liberalisation of society. However, Danielsen and Bendixsen (2019) conducted a study of the parents’ involvement in multi-ethnic schools in Bergen[5]. As a part of the study, they attended parents’ council meetings and noticed there were few, or no, parents with migrant non-western backgrounds in the meetings.

In Spain, parental involvement in children’s education is a right recognised by Spanish law. The Organic Law 1985 that regulates the Right to Education is the first law in Spain that specifically focused on the importance of parental involvement in the governance bodies in schools such as the board of governors and parents’ associations (Álvarez-Álvarez, 2020). According to Eurydice report (2019), the analysis of official documents in Spain reveals that in the Spanish education system parents are urged ‘to contribute to the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of their children as well as to address any psycho-social difficulties’ (p.26). Participation of families, especially of immigrants and other minorities, in schools, however, is one of the main challenges that the Spanish Education System needs to address (Odina & Benito, 2010; García-Carmona et al., 2020). 

Being a centralised Education System, in Turkey, there is limited scope for parental involvement in the educational practices in school and it applies equally to migration background parents. However, provincial Immigration Authorities share essential information with immigrant parents about schools. Additionally, to improve communication between school staff and immigrant parents and students a large number of volunteer education staff are trained since 2019 (UNICEF, 2019). Akyuz et al. (2018) however, assert the need to apprehend native parents of the government’s humanitarian approach to Syrian refugees so that their prejudices and discriminatory behaviors are not transmitted to school through their children.

Mapping out ICCEP Practices in the partner countries

As we can see from the above, general policy in this field in the countries studied, is largely to introduce fairly vague policies and protocols and hope that individual schools will be able to work miracles. Limited reforms to curriculum, teacher training, language teaching and so on have been introduced but the big controversial issues of school choice/segregation, ethnic minorities in teaching and racism and hostility in society as a whole are largely avoided. However, since even the most limited of policymakers can perceive that individual schools acting alone can achieve little and that, in fact, the situation is worsening, the concept of moving the onus to clusters or networks of schools has gained currency. We shall now turn to these developments, all the time noting that, as in the case of individual schools, the more radical possibilities – limits on parental choice, school de-segregation, teacher or pupil exchange or transfer and so on are carefully ignored.

Based on the system of educational governance, various forms, of inter-agency and/or inter-departmental collaborations exist in these countries.

With the School Reform Law of 2017, in Austria, the education authorities have introduced small networks or clusters of regional schools. These networks are created to form larger educational units to achieve economies of scale in managing the school networks because, as compared to the schools in the rest of Europe, the schools in Austria are smaller in size. Moreover, there are some examples of educational networks focused on enhancing educational parity and integration of migration background students in society. For example, the Inclusive Community Wiener Neudorf Project started in 2011 in the market town of Wiener Neudorf (near Vienna). The project encouraged collaboration among all community services such as, schools, kindergartens and, in its early phases, the regional University of Teacher Education (Braunsteiner & Germany, 2009a; 2009b; Braunsteiner, 2011; Gebhardt, 2013).

The quality in multicultural schools or QUIMS programme (Bildungsdirektion Zurich, 2019) is another such project initiated to support primary schools, in the Canton of Zurich, with a high proportion of students with an immigration background, German as a second language, and students from socially disadvantaged families. Participation in the programme is mandatory for the schools with 40% or more students with German as a second language or foreign nationality or socially disadvantaged background.

FörMig,  thePromotion of Children and Adolescents with Migration background programme was successfully implemented in ten German states and became part of the federal government national integration plan and integration-education policy measures.

Schools participating in the QUIMS Project must review the implementation of QUIMS activities and assure their quality. They are provided with some quality instruments such as ‘sprachgewandt’, ‘Lernpass’ and ‘LernLUPE’ (some of instruments are still in the development process) to systematically measure students’ academic progress. After every two years, schools have to hand over progress report to the elementary education authority. The external experts will review the implementation status of the project in 2022. Empirical information is collected through case studies (interviews with school leaders, teachers and students) in some of the participating schools to validate the conclusions during the project (in 2019 and two or three years afterwards). Also, the elementary education authority biennially reviews the Education statistics and student performance data and informs the schools so that the schools can analyse how smooth transitions are and adjust their practices accordingly (Kanton Zürich, 2017). 

In Ireland, whilst many informal networks exist, the Department of Education has established and initiated several formal networks with a specific vision, operating system and structures to solve the complex issues that schools may face locally. For instance, Delivering Equality in Schools (DEIS) links the schools in a locality, dealing with a large proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure equity of opportunity for those in communities at risk of disadvantage and social exclusion (Government of Ireland, 2021). Another example is the School Completion Programme run by the Child and Family Agency – TUSLA, which connects primary and post-primary schools and organises required resources to help students complete schooling who are potentially at risk of early school leaving or who are out of school and have not successfully transferred to an alternative learning site (TUSLA, 2022). Education and Training Board (ETB) is also a large network that connects, manages and operates Community National Schools, Post-Primary Schools, Further Education colleges, and a range of adult and further education centres delivering education and training programmes in the local community. There are sixteen such networks overseeing and managing education and training needs of the community, they serve (ETBI, 2022).

The Local Education Cluster or Educational Networks (Leadership/Creative Clusters) is a recent initiative of the Department of Education and Skills in collaboration with the Centre of School Leadership (CSL) and Association of Teacher Education Support Centres (ATECI). The project is part of the Government of Ireland’s Action Plan 2016 developed to tentatively make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. The project aims to give autonomy to school leaders to collaborate locally with other schools, higher education institutions (research community) and third-level business and industry to seek creative solutions to complex problems (Centre for School Leadership, 2018). An Educational Network consists of three to six schools located in close proximity that are incentivised to solve collaboratively their common educational issues (DES, 2018a). DES (2018b) acknowledges that schools have never been offered funding to work together on innovative solutions or given the freedom to experiment with what works for them and what does not.

Based on the national and transnational educational priorities, the foci of the educational networks are predetermined by the DES (O’Hara et al. 2020) for example, digital learning, STEM and Creative Arts. However, none of these educational networks is focused on migration-related issues. The project encourages partnership at multiple levels among several stakeholders.

A partnership among/between

  • school teams (school leaders, teachers and students) within a cluster
  • the Education Support Centre and schools in a cluster
  • Cluster Facilitator and Cluster Coordinator
  • Third level business and industry personnel and schools in a cluster
  • Education Support Centres, Department of Education and Skills (DES), Centre for School Leadership (CSL) and Association of Teacher Education Centres Ireland (ATECI)

The role of Cluster Coordinator, who is generally a principal of the school leading the network, is central in managing and organising Educational Networks. Cluster Coordinators are responsible for monitoring the implementation of actions planned according to the timeframe and the evaluation criteria. Furthermore, they prepare the progress reports with the consensus of the participating schools and submit them to the Director of the Education Centre. Though the participating schools are encouraged to decide the evaluation mechanism and criteria, the final evaluation is carried out externally. There is, however, no framework or guidelines available on the websites of the departments and agencies supervising the educational networks.

Two exemplars of community-based networks in Norway are: Asker municipality[6] and Drammen municipality. Both communities are near Oslo, situated in urbanised areas southwest of the capital, and belong to the same ‘KOSTRA’ group[7] and county. All municipalities in Norway are categorised in KOSTRA[8]-groups according to size, population, educational facilities, healthcare, immigration and a range of other socio-economic variables.

Both Asker and Drammen are situated in Viken County and are regionally supervised by the County Governor’s Office of Oslo and Viken, e.g. through state inspections of educational facilities.  

Asker municipality consists of three former municipalities (Asker, Hurum, Røyken) with 95.000 total population. All ‘refugees and their families who have been granted a residence permit in Norway have the right to and are obliged to complete an introductory programme[9]. All municipalities that settle refugees are obliged to offer the programme’ (IMDI, 2019). Integration of refugees, without formal schooling, is facilitated by providing them vocational training so that they can enter the skilled workforce. Asker municipality, together with neighbouring Bærum, has launched a programme which ‘has implemented a successful combination of vocational courses, industry-oriented Norwegian language tuition and relevant work placements’ (ibid.). Through various measures, and collaboration between the municipalities, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, and county governor, most participants acquire a craft certification without formal qualifications.

Drammen municipality includes the city of Drammen, Norway’s fifth-largest, with a population of 101.500 inhabitants. In 2019, close to 65% of the migrant population had either upper-secondary qualifications or university level education as their highest obtained formal qualifications, compared to 80% of the rest of the population. The number of people taking the introductory programme has gradually decreased (256 people in 2019, 313 in 2018, and 365 in 2017) (IMDI[10]). Almost 60% of the immigrant population in Drammen who completed the introductory programme has been employed or had entered further education, a figure slightly below the national average. Quite like other municipalities, Drammen also offers adults (immigrant and non-immigrant) without formal compulsory school certificates a separate programme (“Grunnskole for voksne”)[11], on the successful completion of the programme, the participants can apply for upper-secondary education, eventually also to studies in higher education.  

In the Norwegian context, the municipalities[12] have the responsibility for primary and lower secondary schools. Local responsibility for quality assurance and development, including continuous professional development of teachers, was regulated by law (The Education Act, 1998; Regulation to the Education Act, 2003) and rests with the municipalities. The local quality assurance system includes various quality indicators such as schools’ resources and working conditions; students’ learning outcomes on national standardised tests, screening tests, the National Student Survey[13] and the municipal survey on the students’ learning environment; and schools’ self-evaluation and improvement planning. The CEO at the municipal level has regular meetings with all the principals and follows up each school individually with meetings with the principal and/or the school leadership team. To analyse and make judgements about educational provision, a key topic at school and municipal levels is to identify students under the critical limit on national tests as well as screening tests in literacy and numeracy (Skedsmo, 2018). At the school level, the principal or a member of the school leadership team reviews teacher teams.

Spain holds a unique position among the rest of the partner countries as its law encourages collaboration among various agencies and schools to improve teaching and learning. For instance, the Organic Law 3/2020, of December 29, amending Organic Law 2/2006, of May 3, on education allows collaboration between primary and secondary schools leading to a smooth transition of students from one phase of schooling to the next. The same law emphasises collective measures to support students with low proficiency in the language of instruction or who join the education system late. Interagency collaboration is also encouraged in the national law[14] to facilitate schooling, integration of students into the school, better achievement standards and prevention of early school leaving. 

All schools, regardless of their geographical location or the level of schooling they cater for, are expected by law to develop links with third party businesses, organisations and institutions in their catchment areas to create open educational communities thus, affecting a social change[15]. In addition to this, Regional Educational Administrations are required by law to intervene and rectify in case, if in certain geographical areas or social locations, there is a concentration of students in situations of socio-educational vulnerability. The Regional Educational Administrations also plan several programmes and networks of schools jointly with Guidance and Counselling Psycho-pedagogical Teams (that support primary schools) or In-service Teacher Training Centres for the schools functioning in the same geographical areas. Therefore, it is not unusual in Spain to find a cluster of schools organising combined professional development activities for teachers.

Another example is the Network of Schools for Peace, Culture, Equality and Non-violence initiated in Extremadura by the regional educational administration in 2007. Schools in the Network had to ensure that these values were not only incorporated in their curriculum but were also visible in their overall environment.

Along with the regional educational administration, educational networks are introduced by universities, municipalities, private enterprises and foundations. To give an example, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, together with Fundación La Caixa, have been running a project Intervención Comunitaria Intercultural since 2010. Using a participatory research strategy several intercultural and intergenerational activities are organised to bring together diverse groups. Similarly, CREA, Community of Research on Excellence for All (Universidad de Barcelona), has initiated Learning Communities among kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. Learning Communities have also been established among some schools in Extremadura and other parts of Spain through a project entitled Dialogical Learning, Community Educational Participation and Inclusive Practices.

Two other exemplars are MUS-E or La Liga Española de la Educación y la Cultura Popular. The MUS-E programme is a joint venture of the Ministry of Education and the Yehudi Menuhin International Foundation. The programme addresses the artistic, social, cultural and educational aspects of life through the teaching of art. It consists of series of workshops conducted by renowned artists, from various cultures, for both primary and secondary schools. La Liga Española de la Educación y la Cultura Popular (The Spanish League of Education and Popular Culture) is an association managed by a network of volunteers and educationalists with a vision for an inclusive society. They carry out socio-cultural and socio-educational programmes for young people and adults. Immigration and interculturalism are their main priorities. They also have a network of intercultural schools (REI) in Madrid, Canarias, Castilla y León and Murcia. 

Inspectorate, Provincial Directorates of Education, Regional Education Administration and the associations that initiate the networks (e.g. The Spanish League of Education and Popular Culture) are responsible for monitoring the implementation of Educational Networks’ actions and evaluating the impact of the programmes. For every network there are prescribed procedures for schools in the network must comply with and the internal staff who monitors compliance with the standards.

In the Republic of Turkey, the Ministry of National Education manages almost all education activities centrally such as, budget, infrastructure, programme development, content, implementation processes and human resources. Most of the decision-making also rests with the Ministry of National Education (Özkan & Çelikten, 2017). In the secondary education report published by the World Bank, Fretwell and Wheeler (2001) maintain that Turkey has the most highly centralised educational system of any OECD member state. There is a complete hierarchical chain starting from the MoNE and ending at the school principal with a sharp decrease in bureaucratic authority. The links in between include the Directorate General of Lifelong Learning, a subsidiary department within the MoNE, established in 2016 to effectively and efficiently respond to the needs of the Syrian refugee children (MoNE, 2021); and the provincial and district/local level administration offices that act as ‘administrative arms’ of MoNE and ensure implementation of the central bureaucracy’s decisions. The Provincial Education Departments have some branch offices dedicated to immigrant students’ affairs. 

In this centralised and bureaucratic system, though there is hardly any precedent of educational networks or school clusters in the real sense of the word, the work of some NGOs in the temporary education centres and later on the PIKTES Project provide some examples of inter-agency collaboration. The Provincial Directorate of Lifelong Learning works as a unit of the Provincial Directorate of National Education and is the provincial representative of the PIKTES Project. The determination of the needs of the schools, the approval of the activities to be carried out by the schools and the solution of the problems that may arise fall in the ambit of the Lifelong Learning branch directorates.

In the system every sub-unit has fixed responsibilities, for instance, PIKTES Project is focused on meeting the educational and adaptation needs of the Syrian Refugees students, so the students, older than grade two, are offered Turkish Language Orientation Classes to improve their Turkish speaking and literacy skills. The decision to attend the orientation course is made locally at a school level. A commission of teachers comprising class and subject teachers of the students for whom the decision is to be made to assess the students’ needs. If the school has a substantial number of students, who need extra support for language learning, the school directors inform the district administration office which in turn seeks approval from the Provincial office for initiating the Orientation Course at the school. However, if the number of students is low the district administration office organises their classes at some nearby schools that have a large number of migrant students receiving language support.  

The Directorates of Lifelong Learning and Formal Education Branch monitor the actions for educational development in provinces. While in provinces where the PIKTES Project is being implemented, PIKTES Provincial Administrators monitor the progress on the actions. A specific Monitoring Module is developed in the e-school system that uses the data entered into the system. As the MoNE aims to have all migrant students enrolled and adapted into the National Education System, therefore, the impact of Educational programmes is measured through the number of migrant students in the Turkish Schools.

Discussion and Conclusion

Countries in this research consortium have experienced an upsurge in immigration for decades now and being active members of the OECD and/or EU support, at least in theory human rights and antiracism perspectives. Policies have been devised to simplify and tease out the barriers from the integration process for immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers and create inclusive communities. Governments are keen to help the migration background children to participate fully in school life and keep ajar the doors to public education. Norway, perhaps, surpasses the other partner countries and provides exclusive funding to asylum reception centres and the municipalities to support and meet the learning needs of the migrant children and enable them to join the mainstream classes as soon as possible. Austria, Ireland, Spain and Turkey integrate these children into mainstream schooling and support them on their journey to better learning.

In the light of regulations and high-level policies to facilitate migrant children’s language and learning, prepare teachers to manage the learning of diverse groups of children, develop intercultural curricula and avoid clustering in some specific neighbourhood schools can these countries claim to have inclusive and open societies without any bias? This study has uncovered gaps between policy and practice in all five countries. For instance, in Austria and Norway, intercultural competence is a part of the framework for ITE programmes yet, teachers are not confident when they face multicultural classes. One strategy, to fill this gap and to achieve a higher degree of implementation, is to apply a community-based, bottom-up approach – an approach where all stakeholders contribute according to their competence thus, forming a sustainable network of professional support. The ICCEP concept is built on promoting collaboration at local level among schools and services to manage learning, psychosocial and well-being needs of migrant and other children and ensure educational success and character development for all cohorts.

As discussed, Spain, Austria, Ireland and Norway have some precedents of educational networking and community-based clusters where different agencies have collaborated to encourage inclusivity in schools and further afield. However, these networks, in most instances, are not voluntary and schools are told by the departments of education to participate. This does not apply in Irelands, ‘Leadership Clusters’ where schools lead the formation of their network. In the case of Turkey, PIKTES seems to be the only unifying force among several departments and hierarchies within the Ministry of National Education. The situation may not be ideal, yet still the existing practices have some potential for initiating local educational networks to support the integration of migration background students not just in the schools but in their local community as well with the help of Education Support Services (for example, the psychological support service, inspectorate, ITE providers, migration and refugee integration service and health and nutrition service) and third level colleges, business and industry. The success and sustainability of such endeavours depend mainly on the efficacy of their planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, therefore, developing a system that provides a structure about who to involve and when during the process will enhance the effectiveness of the networks and reduce ambiguities about the roles.  

In conducting this research one can’t help but be struck by the continuing notion among Government and policy makers that schools, principals, teacher and parents acting alone can or in ‘clusters’ or ‘networks’ can solve problems which exist on a wide societal scale. While little of what is reported above is not of use and does not contain valuable ideas and valiant efforts virtually nothing reported here – with the possible exception of heavy funding for direct provision services and early migrant education in Norway- comes close to the type of intervention which can make an impact on entire societies and education systems. As noted above major systems wide radical initiates –  in curriculum and assessment, teacher selection and education, school and district de-segregation – to mention a few, are avoided for many reasons, including political and financial cost and the rising tide of an – immigrant feeling. Instead these worthwhile but deeply limited policies multiply and it is left to schools, alone or in small groups to do their best.