07 SES 01 C, Migrant Children with SEND – What Information is Needed to Best Support Them in Schools and How Can It Be Collected?
The intersection between migration and special educational needs and disability (SEND) is an overlooked area within academic research, national policies and international conventions. Combining figures which show that migrant children constitute approximately 4% of the under 15 population in Europe (Janta and Harte, 2017) with the estimate that an average of 4,4% of all European children have an official identification of SEN (European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, 2018) indicates that there is a significant number of children who fall into both categories. There are however large variations between countries, and different definitions and monitoring systems make cross-cultural comparisons difficult. For example, in the UK, most school data centre on ethnicity, rather than country of birth, and it is problematic to obtain specific information about migrant students. In Italy, there is an on-going debate about how to distinguish between SEN and disability, complicating data collection on children with SEND and comparisons with other countries. In addition, having an ‘official identification of SEN’, as identified by the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education, does not include all children with SEN support and physical disabilities. In the UK, for example, children with a SEN statement constitute 2.9% of the school population, but an additional 11,7% receive SEN support, making the total number of SEND pupils 14,6% (Department for Education, 2018).
A small number of qualitative and quantitative studies have identified some of the challenges experienced by migrant children with SEND in different national contexts and showed the importance of acknowledging diversity within SEND (Caldin and Cinotti, 2018; Lindsay et al., 2016; Oliver and Singal, 2017; Paniagua, 2017). Research has furthermore found that migrant students may be over-represented or sometimes mistakenly placed in particular SEN groups (Gasperini, 2013; Strand and Lindsay, 2009). However, the general lack of consistent and comparable data (European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education, 2009) hinders the identification of broader structural issues experienced by migrant children with SEND, potential over/under-identification of particular groups, gaps in provision and support needs, and emphasises the need for more research into the situation of migrant children with SEND in European schools.
Collecting quantitative data on migrant children with special educational needs and disabilities however carries a number of ethical and methodological challenges and risks, and these may vary across countries. Some European countries do not allow for the collection of data on people’s ethnic backgrounds other than citizenship or country of birth (European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education, 2009). In others, like the UK, schools’ formal monitoring of children’s country of birth is controversial, with recent reports that information has been shared with immigration authorities (Gayle, 2019). The terminology used in public discourse in the UK, Italy and other countries to describe migrant students is furthermore often negative, complicating the collection of qualitative data on migrant children with SEND, and emphasising the importance of a common framework.
In this workshop, we draw on work conducted in the UK and Italy to discuss the methodological issues and potential risks of collecting qualitative and quantitative data on migrant children with SEND, and the role of the school as a facilitator of their inclusion.
The workshop will seek to address questions about 1) the type of information schools need in order to support migrant children with SEND, 2) the challenges of collecting national and cross-national data on migrant children with SEND, 3) the best approaches to collecting better data and facilitating better understanding to support schools working with migrant children with SEND? and 4) whether and how information could be standardized within and across countries to facilitate the collection of more consistent and comparable data. The workshop will use a combination of presentations and interactive and participatory methods to facilitate discussion amongst participants. The workshop facilitators will present their work on the intersection of migration and SEND in the particular contexts of Italy and the UK (20 mins each). Cinotti will discuss educational strategies used by schools in Italy with the aim of investigating how new teaching models and approaches can facilitate inclusive pedagogy and modify the professional perspectives of teachers on the dynamic between cultural barriers and educational opportunities. Jørgensen, Perry and Dobson will present their experiences of the methodological and ethical challenges of collecting data about migrant children with SEND in the UK, focusing particularly on the changing contexts of school based data. These presentations will be followed by a 30-minute group discussion with workshop participants, using post-it notes, flip charts and extracts of interviews to generate discussion of the four questions posed in the workshop. Finally, the last 20 minutes will be used to summarize the main points from the group discussion to generate a set of ideas for further methodological and strategical development in the area of migration, SEND and education in Europe.
Educational settings play a key role in the inclusion of migrant children with SEND in society, and international and comparative research exploring their situation and experiences is of key importance to understand their inclusion/exclusion in schools across Europe. However, only a few studies have explored the intersection between migration and SEND and there is a lack of consistent and comparable data which hinders the identification of national and cross-national issues. At the same time, collection of data on migrant children in schools can be challenging and to some extent ‘risky’ for the families involved, requiring methodological sensitivity and significant consideration of how the data can and may be used. This workshop will discuss the methodological and ethical challenges and risks of collecting qualitative and quantitative data about migrant children with SEND. Drawing on research findings and reflections from Italy and the UK, as well as discussion with workshop participants, it will seek to identify the type of information that schools need to know in order to best support the children and their families. We will aim to conclude the workshop with a set of ideas as to how data on migrant children with SEND can be best collected and used to facilitate knowledge and understanding, and implement appropriate educational strategies in different European contexts and cross-nationally.
Caldin, R., Cinotti, A., 2018. Migrant families with disabilities. Social participation, school and inclusion. Interdisciplinary Journal of Family Studies 23. Department for Education, 2018. Special educational needs in England: January 2018. Department for Education, London. European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education, 2009. Multicultural diversity and special needs education: summary report. European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education, Odense. European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, 2018. European Agency Statistics on Inclusive Education: 2016 Dataset Cross-Country Report. European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, Odense, Denmark. Gasperini, C., 2013. Lingua italiana L2 e DSA. Un’identificazione complessa tra diagnosi precoce e gestione multidisciplinare. Formazione & Insegnamento 11, 103–109. Gayle, D., 2019. Schools census used to enforce immigration laws, minister says. The Guardian. Janta, B., Harte, E., 2017. Education of migrant children Education policy responses for the inclusion of migrant children in Europe. RAND, Cambridge. Lindsay, G., Shah, S., Kyriazopoulou , M., 2016. Multicultural Diversity and Special Educational Needs, in: Watkins, A., Meijer, C. (Eds.), Implementing Inclusive Education: Issues in Bridging the Policy-Practice Gap, International Perspectives on Inclusive Education. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, p. pp.137-158. Oliver, C., Singal, N., 2017. Migration, disability and education: reflections from a special school in the east of England. British Journal of Sociology of Education 38, 1217–1229. https://doi.org/10.1080/01425692.2016.1273757 Paniagua, A., 2017. The Intersection of Cultural Diversity and Special Education in Catalonia: The Subtle Production of Exclusion through Classroom Routines: Cultural Diversity and Special Education in Catalonia. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 48, 141–158. https://doi.org/10.1111/aeq.12190 Strand, S., Lindsay, G., 2009. Evidence of Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education in an English Population. The Journal of Special Education 43, 174–190. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022466908320461
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