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Help for Polish families

Bilingual booklet will help Polish children in UK classrooms

A bilingual booklet for parents of Polish children in UK primary schools has today been launched by a team of Middlesex academics.

The booklet, in Polish and English, is a highly practical guide to dealing with the differences between the education systems of the two countries, aimed at helping some of the estimated 26,000 Polish children in UK schools get the most from their education.

It is based on research by Middlesex University staff into the experiences of Polish children, their parents and teachers in primary schools in this country since Poland joined the EU in 2004.

Through their research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Dr Louise Ryan, Alessio D’Angelo, Professor Rosemary Sales and Magda Lopez Rodriguez found a great need for the booklet Polish Pupils in UK Primary Schools, a Guide for Parents.

Dr Ryan said: “The research found a clash of expectations between many Polish parents and their children’s teachers.  This was often because the parents did not have a full understanding of how the British educational system worked and how it differed from the system back in Poland. For instance, the question of feedback on a child’s progress was a big issue.

“Another important difference is that pupils start school in Poland later than in the UK, meaning some of the Polish children enrolling in schools in this country will be experiencing formal education for the first time.”

Their work has received praise from several areas.

Emil Pietras, the First Secretary for Science and Education at the Polish Embassy in London said: “The bilingual guidebook that Louise and her colleagues have produced is a very useful resource for Polish parents with children in British Primary Schools.”

Nicola Davies, Chair of the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC) the subject association for English as an Additional Language, said: “This is a really welcome and timely resource which will be invaluable in sharing understandings and supporting communication between parents and professionals”.

The booklet, which also has a glossary of terms and advice on where to go for information, seeks to empower Polish parents to become involved in their child’s schooling, with information on a wide range of issues informed by the research and the differences in the two countries’ systems, including:

• The different types of Primary Schools;
• applying for a place;
• the school day;
• homework;
• parents’ evenings.

The  guidebook is being launched at a Middlesex University Conference called Children, Families and the Migration Experience: Opportunities and Challenges.  It includes workshops for education professionals and an academic conference.

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