Growing immigration flows into Europe in recent years pose significant challenges for education systems. This raises the question of how to successfully integrate migrant children into schools. In order for integration to be as successful as possible, particular attention must be given to welcoming students to the class, which is the subject of our master's thesis.
The thesis consists of two parts. In the first part, we focused in particular on the initial welcoming process for migrant children at the classroom level from the perspectives of migrant children, the school, the classroom, and teacher qualifications. We looked at various studies and practices dealing with welcoming migrant children into the classroom. In addition, we defined terms such as integration and inclusion section, as most teachers used them with the same meaning. We also proposed suggestions on how to improve working with migrant children.
In the second part, we asked some key questions: what approaches did teachers use for welcoming migrant children, what kind of practices were implemented for admitting migrant pupils both at the school and classroom level, whether the work of teachers changed after admitting migrant children, and if so, how, and whether teachers felt sufficiently qualified for welcoming migrant children into the classroom. We conducted an analysis of the welcoming process of immigrant children in three schools in Slovenia and two schools in England, as well as an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of approaches in those schools in both countries. The descriptive research method was used. For the empirical part, we used a pre-written questionnaire with framed questions to conduct an oral interview. The questions were open-ended and were adjusted and supplemented with sub-questions where needed to obtain more meaningful and accurate answers. We conducted interviews with three migrant children from Slovenia and three from England, as well as two teachers from England and three from Slovenia.
The findings showed that found that schools in England where interviews were conducted did not prepare for the arrival of migrant pupils by implementing specific activities at the school level and placed children in the classroom based on their level of knowledge, while schools in Slovenia had prior preparations in place for admitting migrant children and prepared the class beforehand. Differences were also found in the welcoming process for migrant children in the first few weeks on both the school and classroom level. In England, there were two people in the classroom, a teacher and a teaching assistant, while in Slovenia, there was only one teacher; in England, the class did not specifically prepare for the arrival of a new pupil, while in Slovenia various class preparation activities were carried out, e.g. class discussions, prior conversations with the migrant child, seating arrangements, and preparing a map; in England, the emphasis was on equal treatment of all pupils, while in Slovenia, based on the interviews, teachers tried to make it easier for migrant pupils to settle in by providing individual lessons, preparing worksheets in both languages, using visual material, etc. in the first weeks; in England, morning and afternoon care focused only on playing and socializing, while in Slovenia, it was also devoted to homework; extracurricular activities in England were mostly not free, while in Slovenia they were organized at the school level; additional and supplementary instruction was not provided in England, while in Slovenia it was and was attended by children if needed. The differences between the countries can, among other things, be explained by the fact that England has had much more experience in this area, and that the legislation of both countries was quite different.