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Mixed-ability mixed-ethnicity classrooms help migrant children succeed at school

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MiSoC researcher Dr Zsofia Boda has co-authored a new study looking at how migrant children integrate into school in new countries and the role of friendships.

The study finds pupils from various minority groups may benefit from friendships with majority-group members, particularly with those successful in the education system. Mixed-ability, and mixed-ethnicity, classrooms are therefore a key component to promoting upward intergenerational mobility among the children of labour migrants.

The research team looked at survey data following Turkish migrant children settling into schools in Germany.

Dr Boda said: ‘We investigated how pupils of Turkish origin in Germany select their friends, and how these friends in turn influence their educational expectations (the qualifications pupils think they would realistically get in the future).

We looked at data on the friendship networks of 91 classrooms in German secondary schools, together with the educational expectations of pupils in these classrooms. Educational expectations are early indicators of actual educational qualifications. The possible educational expectations were, in line with the German school system, university as well as upper, intermediate, and lower secondary degrees.

Pupils were about 15 years old at the time of the first data collection. Data on both friendship and educational expectations were collected twice, with one year in-between, so it was possible to see how both changed over time.

This allowed us to investigate both how friendships influence expectations and how expectations influence friendships, over time. We analysed the data using both ordinal logistic regressions and specialised models for social network panel data.’

Read our Explainer on this research here