Update from Ireland on
OECD thematic review of
migrant education
Breda Naughton
Key Areas
Early childhood education and care
School – primary and post-primary
Partnership and engagement
School choice in Ireland
Data collection
Context in Ireland
Rapidly changing – migration trends, economy, future?
Migrants in Ireland have a different profile to many other countries
PISA ( 2006) – very small immigrant sample (few second generation) – indicative
findings + ESRI (2009) – national survey (www.esri.ie)
Students enrolled in urban and disadvantaged schools but also in schools throughout
the country
Most adults have upper secondary education – may not be in employment commensurate
with qualifications
Few second generation migrants
Approx 10% primary and post primary principals noted that nearly all their students have
sustained academic difficulties (ESRI)
Less 2% schools have over 50% migrant students in primary
Average of 2- 9 % migrant students in post-primary education
Approx 70% migrant students do not speak English as their first language on arrival
Concept of critical period hypothesis theory for EAL students in post-primary – age of arrival
is critical
Communicative, discrete language skills and academic language proficiency
(Cummins, 2009)
Early Childhood Education and
Care in Ireland
• Primary education starts from 4 years
• New universal pre-school year for 3 to 4 year
olds from Jan 2010 – OECD welcomes initiative
• Importance of quality pre/ early school
– Need to ensure migrant children participate
– Staff have CPD on
• diversity
• catering for migrant children/ language stimulation – in host
and mother tongue
• social integration and cohesion
– All parents are involved – need for effective
communication strategy that includes migrant parents
School – Primary and PostPrimary
• Teaching is choice of high performers
• 160 nationalities and 160+ languages
• English as Additional Language Teachers
– Few migrant teachers
– Budget constraints from 2009/2010
– Majority of EAL students receive two year support – should be based on
their identified English language needs
• NCCA’s Intercultural Guidelines – advocate a whole school
• AFL – Assessment toolkits – to guide teachers
• “AIM” – Accessing Intercultural Materials Portal
• Qualifications for EAL teachers
• Research on a north / south basis recommended – area of common
School – Primary and PostPrimary ( contd)
• Pre-service and CPD – inadequate for EAL teachers,
mainstream teachers, principals
– (role of Teaching Council)
• Whole school approach/ positive climate towards
• Addressing racism
• Language acquisition (host language and preserving and
reinforcing mother tongue – important in their linguistic,
social and cognitive development)
– Greater reliance on in-class support should be promoted to
scaffold language learning – importance of interaction with peers
Partnership and Engagement
• Parents
– Information should be easily accessible
– May lack knowledge of host country’s education system, of language of
instruction and other supports
– Cultural differences may hinder their involvement with schools
• Encouraging participation in parents councils (at school and national
level), in school life
– needs proactive personal efforts by school personnel
• Immigrant and host communities
– Provide mother tongue or English language classes
– Liaise with families and service providers
– Act as mentors
• Home School Community Liaison Scheme – limited service, coordinators need CPD on diversity
• Other school / home links
School choice in Ireland
• Historical context for primary and post-primary schools
• Governance challenges in Ireland in 21st Century –
concept of patron bodies – live issue
• Inspectorate oversees the quality of teaching and
• 80% schools take all students ( ESRI, 2009)
• Schools should evaluate their admissions policies so that
they are inclusive and reflect the diversity within their
• Lack of accessible information and community networks
may affect informed school choice by parents
• Need for enrolment data to be analysed
Data collection for
evaluation and feedback
• AFL – assessment toolkit, tests, state examinations
How well do migrant students perform compared to their Irish peers?
Adapting teaching practice to reflect needs of diverse student profile
Are interventions effective?
Involvement of all teachers, not just EAL teachers
Support of school leaders
• Lack of data specific to migrants / data protection legislation
• Inspectorate’s whole school and EAL evaluations
– Promote and support improvement
• ESRI – Adapting to Diversity: Irish schools and newcomer students,
2009 (www.esri.ie)
• Value for Money Review of EAL expenditure
• PISA etc have enlarged newcomer samples into the future
• Evaluate policy on evidenced based data
The future
• Ireland is developing an Intercultural
Education Strategy with an implementation
• OECD country report + Handbook for
policy makers – provide significant
evidence based data

Update from Ireland on OECD thematic review of migrant