Access to education and training for children with migrant backgrounds is not sufficient if it is not combined with quality education and learning which meets students’ learning needs and aspiration, concludes the Eurydice report on “Integrating Students from Migrant Backgrounds into Schools in Europe: National Policies and Measures” published on 17 January 2019. 

The report provides a comparative analysis of key policies and measures on integration of migrant students promoted by top-level education authorities in 42 European education systems (in 28 EU member states). This mapping covers a variety of areas, such as governance; access to education; language, learning and psycho-social support; and teachers and school heads.

The report highlights that even though in majority of education systems in Europe, the access to education is provided for children with migrant background and intercultural education is integrated to some extend in the national curricula, policies and measures on learning support tend to focus on academic aspects, rather than students’ social and emotional needs (‘whole-child approach’). 

Moreover, according to the report, an initial and continued assessment of migrant students’ educational progress is not widely carried out and mainly focuses on the language of instruction.

Other challenges emphasised in the study include unpreparedness of teachers to work in culturally diverse classrooms due to the lack of teacher training on these topics, migrant students whose home language differs from the language of instruction not having a right to study their home language at school, and lack of support provided for teachers and school heads (for example, providing teaching assistants and intercultural mediators). 

Among countries having good strategies for integrating migrant students in education, the report names Germany and Austria for a strong emphasis on diversity, Spain (Comunidad Autonoma de Cataluña), Portugal and Slovenia as successful in following a whole-child approach, and Finland and Sweden for keeping both the diversity dimension and the whole-child approach.