Using the Agents of Change Toolkit to Promote Migrant Integration in Schools (Hot Topic)

Di Cantali (Lead / Corresponding author), Natasa Pantic, Silvia De Riba Mayoral

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This workshop draws on two related projects that can help to a) understand how teachers and schools can facilitate the inclusion of migrant students, and b) facilitate the process of change that can help them do so. To understand how schools can meet migrant students' needs, we draw on the insights generated by Teaching That Matter for Migrant Students (TEAMS). This research project is examining teacher agency and collaboration for supporting migrant students within different schools and systems in Sweden, Finland, and Scotland. To achieve the second aim, we demonstrate how the Agents of Change Toolkit (ACToolkit) can be used to facilitate opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between teachers, researchers, school leaders, educational authorities, and other professionals.

Drawing on one case study from the TEAMS research project, looking at how students can be better supported to integrate into the school community, and how staff can be better suported to support migrant students, the workshop will give participants opportunity to engage with the recently completed ACToolkit knowledge exchange project. Participants will be supported to work through the five-step change process using a scenario from their own setting, to explore some of the serious games which accompany this process, and to consider how they may use the ACToolkit in their own setting to practically support the process of identifying and making changes in their inclusive and equitable approaches and practice related to supporting the integration of migrant and refugee students.

Recent estimates from the United Nations (UN) point out that over 15 percent of the world’s 260 million migrants are children and young people. In 2020, more than 17,500 child refugees and migrants arrived in Europe (UNICEF, 2020). Since then, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has initiated the biggest inflow of migrants since the Second World War. At the time of writing, an estimated five million people have fled Ukraine and there is no end to this crisis in sight. Most Ukrainian refugees are children of school age. This new wave of refugees exacerbates an already accelerated rise in the number of migrants globally as people continue to move for economic reasons or to escape natural disasters and conflict. Consequently, the social and cultural makeup of school-age populations is changing rapidly, creating challenges for schools and teachers in national education systems that were designed to meet the needs of local populations. The current crisis highlights the urgent need to consider how schools can accommodate the increasing diversity of student populations as a common feature of modern educational systems rather than a situational crisis or problem of migration.

Research shows that teachers can and do act as agents of change (Pantić, 2015; 2017; Pantić & Florian, 2015, van der Heijen et al., 2015). However, school leadership and teachers often feel unprepared for dealing with the challenges of including refugees and other migrant students. This is due to assumptions embedded in the institutional contexts of their work, the lack of adequate support, or their own unexamined beliefs about teaching and learning in the contexts of increasing diversity of student populations (Florian & Pantić, 2017). Within this context, ACToolkit was co-designed with practitioners as an artefact that can facilitate the development and implementation of theories of change that can promote inclusion of all students (see e.g. Laing & Todd, 2015), engaging relevant actors in accessible research-based activities that are also practicable and collaborative. ACT is a practical toolkit for schools and teachers designed to help them identify and enact the changes required to improve education around the SDGs, particularly SDG4 ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ (UNESCO, 2021).

In conclusion, the ACToolkit enables educators to incorporate research about inclusive education and teacher agency into schools’ self-evaluation and development. Importantly, the toolkit guides school staff to evaluate the impact of change in and on their school communities, which is sometimes missing from the whole-school improvement efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2022
EventBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference 2022 - Liverpool University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sept 20228 Sept 2022


ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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