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Supporting migrant students through the pandemic (25th – 26th May 2021)

Registrations to this event are now closed – some of the presentations have been recorded and are available online – below
(the conference programme is available below)
For queries:


Lockdowns and school ‘closures’ in response to Covid-19 have caused major disruptions to the lives and educational experiences of everyone. This impact, however, has not been the same for all, and children from disadvantaged backgrounds are facing disproportionate difficulties and widening educational gaps. In fact, since the first lockdowns of Spring 2020, distance learning has proved to be a multiplier of educational inequalities, at the intersection of class, gender, (dis)ability, ethnicity and migration status. Despite the best efforts of individual teachers, the state of consistent disruption into which schools have been drawn makes it more likely that those who are overlooked by national policies or local interventions will fall even further behind.  Among these are pupils from migrant and refugee families, and particularly newly arrived migrants in primary and secondary schools.

They tend to be less familiar with the educational system and life in the host countries; and they often face challenges due to language barriers, limited resources and their traumatic personal experiences of immigration. Moreover, for migrant students, schools represent not only spaces where knowledge and skills are acquired, but also crucial places for language acquisition and for integrating into the local community. For economically vulnerable migrant families, schools are often the first port of call to access information about public services and welfare support.

Such scenario adds to the problems which had crystallised across Europe over the past few years. Whilst, on the one hand, many countries and regions have accumulated experiences of good practice over the years, on the other, the volatility of their social and political contexts has posed continuous challenges. Among these, the emergence of new forms of nationalism, the hardening of migration policies and the redefinition of boundaries between and within national spaces, which risk placing schools at the centre of controversies and contestations. Too often the presence of migrant students and families is seen as a potential burden rather than an opportunity. Targeted resources and interventions can be scarce, and constant changes to policy and funding frameworks make it difficult to sustain successful approaches.

All this raises issues for educators and policy makers not only in terms of supporting migrant students’ attainment, but also in terms of emotional support and ensuring that young people are not victims of discrimination and racism but, rather, that they can develop as full, active and accepted citizens within their communities. Thus, forging opportunities for joined-up thinking among scholars, practitioners and policy makers becomes a key priority. Whilst some of the challenges are country-specific, much can be learned from international exchange of research and practice.

The event

Funded by the Social Policy Association (UK), this online event will bring together academics, practitioners, NGOs and policy-makers from across Europe, in order to exchange and discuss best practice of inclusion, engagement, practical and emotional support for migrant and refugee students from different backgrounds, educational levels and local contexts. The event will focus in particular on the new challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic in the short and long term; but it will also build on years of international research on migration and education, examining how the experiences of good practice consolidated over the past years can inform new and sustainable interventions.

This initiative is organised in partnership by the icPSP (International Centre for Public and Social Policy) at the University of Nottingham; NIESR (National Institute for Economic and Social Research); EMIGRA-CER Migracions of the Autonomous University of Barcelona; and the Department of Culture, Politics and Society (CPS) of the University of Turin. The event takes place within the wider framework of ‘Learning for Citizenship’: an initiative to build an international network on “good practice of inclusion, engagement, practical and emotional support for migrant and refugee students”.

The organising committee includes:

  • Alessio D’Angelo (icPSP, University of Nottingham);
  • Chiara Manzoni (NIESR);
  • Silvia Carrasco Pons, Laia Narciso Pedro, Angelina Sánchez Martí (EMIGRA-CER, UAB Barcelona);
  • Roberta Ricucci, Tanja Schroot (CPS, University of Turin), Pietro Cingolani (University of Bologna).

Conference support: Jasper Donelan (University of Nottingham), Amy Lines (icPSP)

Conference Programme

Summary programme
please click here to download the full programme

Tuesday 25th May (times are GMT)
9:45-10:45 – Start and opening session

10.45-12:00 – Panel A – Formal and informal actors

‘The impact of Covid19 on newly arrived migrant students in England: between community interventions and policy neglect’ Alessio D’Angelo (University of Nottingham)

‘From High-touch to High-tech: How has the Pandemic reshaped community education services for refugee learners in the UK?’Amir Raki; Dr Ilma Nur Chowdhury; Dr Marzena Nieroda; Prof. Judith Zolkiewski (Alliance Manchester Business School)

‘The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young refugees’ education and wellbeing in the UK: practice-based insights’Refugee Education UK

12:30-13:45 – Panel B – Language and multilingualism

Can a science enrichment programme delivered in the mother tongue of foreign scientists increase the motivation of migrant pupils for science?’Joana Moscoso and Joana Bordalo (Native Scientist

‘Promoting the learning and achievement of pupils who use EAL during and after Covid-19’Katherine Solomon (The Bell Foundation)

‘Participation in distance learning: Promoting inclusive education in multilingual settings’Roberta Spelorzi and Mattia Zingaretti (University of Edingburgh)

14:00-14:45 – Round table I – Learning for Citizenship: education and social integration in times of Covid19
15:00 – End

Wednesday 26th May (times are GMT)
13:00-13:15 – Start

13:15-14:30 – Panel C – Emergency responses

‘Filling the gaps: school experiences in supporting newly arrived migrants during lockdowns’Chiara Manzoni (NIESR – National Institute of Economic and Social Research)

– ‘’Less people dare to go outside’ – Formal and non-formal support structures for refugee students and young people throughout and despite crises. Experiences from Austria’ – Michelle Proyer; Johannes Reitinger; Michael Holzmayer (University of Vienna)

‘Changing educational roles and competences during the COVID crisis. A case study from Turin, Italy’Roberta Ricucci (Università di Torino); Tanja Schroot (Università di Torino); Pietro Cingolani (Università di Bologna)

15:00-16:30 – Panel D – Citizenship and belonging

COVID-19 and the recreation of social injustices: issues of learning and belonging among Syrian refugee students in London’Jumana Al-Waeli (UCL Institute of Education)

Introducing the dialogic approach as a key strategy for citizenship-building’ Dr. Luisa Conti (Friedrich Schiller University Jena)

– ‘Combining forces to face the future: Governmental Initiatives to strengthen Italy’s skill base during the COVID pandemic’ – Roberta Ricucci and Tanja Schroot (Università di Torino)

‘Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Third-Country National Students in Madrid and Barcelona’Silvia Carrasco and Marina Pibernat (EMIGRA-CER Migracions, Autonomous University of Barcelona

16:45-17:30 – Round table II – Between policy and practice: the future of inclusive education

How to register

This event is free to attend but registration is required and places are limited

Registrations to this event are now closed. Some of the presentations have been video-recorded and are available from the links above.

For queries:

Photo by lucas law on Unsplash

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