SIRIUS Watch 2019: Mapping Prior Learning of Newly Arrived Migrant Pupils in Europe

    Loes van der Graaf
    Orestas Strauka
    Eszter Szonyi
    Hanna Siarova
    Bistra Ivanova
    European Commission

    Increase in migration results in more ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms, posing both challenges and opportunities for education systems in Europe and calling for current teaching, learning and assessment practices to become more culturally and linguistically sensitive. Additional complicating factors, such as traumatic experiences, play a prominent role in shaping migrant (especially refugee) children’s learning and integration process.

    Some of the difficulties faced by schools include:

    Lack of a comprehensive assessment of learners’ prior knowledge in many Member States;

    Differences in the academic attainment of newcomers;

    Lack of school capacity to provide sufficient attention to each child’s first language as an important dimension of their academic success.

    The SIRIUS Watch 2019 report attempts to provide a map of existing policies and examples of institutional-level practices in understanding and assessing newly arriving migrant children’s prior learning. It covers the first stages of reception of newly arrived migrant children starting from children’s arrival to the host country to the process of assessment itself and child’s integration into the mainstream schooling. 

    The report is structured into five chapters. Following the introductory Chapter 1, Chapter 2 of this report briefly reviews the data of prior learning, placing it into the overall debate around the issues of validation and recognition of prior learning in the EU. Chapter 3 builds on the results of the national data collected for this report. Chapter 4 further discusses what happens in schools in the light of the existing national frameworks or in the absence of these. Finally, Chapter 5 synthesizes all findings by concluding on the key gaps and opportunities present in the field of assessment of prior learning of migrant children and provides recommendations for improvement.

    The analysis provided in this report is based on literature review and contributions of SIRIUS national partners. In each of the 17 EU Member States covered by this report, researchers and experts from SIRIUS partner countries carried out desk-based research and interviews with relevant stakeholders to explore practices for assessing migrant children’s previous education experiences on the ground.