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Migrant children lag behind in English reading: Survey

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According to the findings based on the evidence of the performance of nine-year-old students from Growing Up in Ireland survey, migrant students in Ireland fall behind in English reading as compared to Irish peers and this gap is largest for East European children.

In other subjects such as Maths, the differences in achievement between Irish and migrant children are not much. African students, however, have slightly lower scores. Professor Frances McGinnity of the Economic and Social  Research Institute (ESRI), said in the annual Maynooth University Education Forum that the survey showed that, overall, migrant children in Ireland had positive attitudes to school and their parents had very high aspirations for them but there is a need of proper English language provision for immigrants.

She also added that the monitoring spending on English language provision and its effectiveness were important elements to facilitate the integration of migrant children in Irish schools. “Monitoring the proportion of migrant students in schools and their performance in state exams is also important to detect potential problems and areas of concern,” she said.

The seminar also heard that migrant children can be at a disadvantage because of socio-economic inequality and teacher expectations. “Migrants are also affected by ethnic and socio-economic segregation, which often concentrates large numbers of them in poorer quality schools.”

However, it has been seen that migrants are highly motivated and they often have a higher value of education, which is an advantage for them as compared to other younger people.

Professor Irena Kogan of the University of Mannheim, Germany said across the OECD – countries in the developed world – first generation migrants perform on average 10pc worse than students without a migrant background when it comes to reading performance, and they are also typically outperformed by non-migrant students in science. Ireland is slightly ahead in this respect, with data for science performance showing there is little difference between migrant and non-migrant students.

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Neha Katoch

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