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Ljouwert, March 2020

Dear reader,

In this first Network of Schools bulletin of 2020, three regional dossiers are presented that are published in the last months. These dossiers are very interesting for anyone interested in educational practices of minority languages in other European areas (and as you will read further – also areas outside of Europe!).

The Mercator European Research Centre also welcomes you this April to an interesting event in Dublin that is organized by the VirtuLApp project team.

I hope you will enjoy reading this bulletin. If you have any comments, ideas or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Best wishes,

Ramziè Krol-Hage

Mercator European Research Centre / Fryske Akademy

Three new regional dossiers!

The Mercator European Research Centre has published 3 Regional Dossiers since the previous Network of Schools bulletin, of which 2 updates and 1 new dossier:

VirtuLApp Multiplier Event

This April 3rd, there will be a free one-day event in Dublin, Ireland, for teachers, principals, teacher trainers (but also parents, researchers, students, interested people from the voluntary sector and general public) to hear more about the latest research on topics such as migration, minority languages, technology, augmented reality, well-being, and classroom practices. This event is organised as part of the Mercator VirtuLApp Erasmus+ project.

For more information about the event, click here.

Wrexham Welsh medium school to expand by more than a third

To meet the demands for Welsh language education, extra room will be created at a Welsh-medium primary school in Wrexham – Ysgol Bro Alun in Gwersyllt. The growing capacity will be funded by the Welsh government. According to Wrexham’s lead member for education Councillor Phil Wynn, this is “a reflection of how well received the Welsh medium school has been by the community of Gwersyllt”.

Read more

New Curriculum for Wales

By: Eleri Goldsmith

The revised Curriculum for Wales guidance was published online in January 2020 following positive and constructive engagement and feedback last year. The new Curriculum for Wales marks a change of culture from one of telling schools what to do and what to teach to one which gives the responsibility to schools for developing a curriculum that works best for all their children and young people but within a national framework.

The Curriculum for Wales guidance will be used by schools to develop a curriculum for their learners which will be taught from 2022. It includes Languages, Literacy and Communication as one of six Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE). Languages, Literacy and Communication AoLE brings together Welsh, English and other international languages, allowing learners to learn across languages, make connections and build on previous learning.

The term international languages refers not only to the modern languages such as French and Mandarin traditionally taught in schools in Wales but also to community languages such as Polish and Bengali, classical languages, and British Sign Language (BSL). Learners will learn Welsh and English from age 3-16 and at least one other international language from primary school.

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Sense of belonging of minority students as important factor for personal and academic success

Minority and first-generation students have a higher sense of belonging at two-year colleges than their counterparts at four-year institutions. A report about a study on this matter is published Dec. 24, written by Maithreyi Gopalan (assistant professor or education at Pennsylvania State University) and Shannon Brady (assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest University). The researchers found that underrepresented ethnic minority students and first generation students do report a lower sense of belonging than continuing-generation students or white students. Also, a better sense of belonging among students leads to higher rates of both personal and academic successes later in their college experiences.

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North Carolina wants to get more minority teachers

Because students of colour often do better academically and are less likely to have disciplinary issues when they’re taught by minority teachers, gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order in December 2019 to create a task force to recommend strategies for recruiting more minority teachers. These days, students of colour account for 52% of North Carolina’s public school enrolment, while 80% of the school teachers are white.

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Polish – Lithuanian agreement on tackling minority language issues

At the end of 2019, the Lithuanian and Polish education ministers signed a declaration on ethnic minority education during a meeting in Warsaw. They agreed to provide schools with native-language textbooks and to ensure funding for additional teaching aids. The document, among other things, included commitment to provide additional assitance to schools and children with special needs, and stipulates to systematic monitor the quality of ethnic minority education in Lithuania and Poland. An implementation-plan of this agreement will be drafted March 1, 2020.

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Saving an indigenous language from extinction

The Sami are the only officially recognized indigenous people in the EU and some of their languages are on the brink of extinction. Journalist Sara Wesslin successfully lobbied Finland’s education minister to provide funds for Sami language teaching. She is one of only two journalists in the world broadcasting in the Skolt Sami language.

Read more