Education in Australia

Foreign children in Australia do better at school than those born in the country

by Ray Clancy on April 9, 2018

in Education in Australia

Children who move to Australia from abroad do better at school and are more ambitious that those born in the country, new research has found.

Immigrant students in Australia also have a greater sense of belonging than their peers, according to the study published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Students

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The report also found that immigrant students were 11% more likely to hold ‘ambitious career expectations ‘ than native students on average across all countries.

The report suggest that one of the reasons children born abroad do so well is that Australia is better at nurturing youngsters from diverse backgrounds due to the way its immigration system has developed.

It highlights the quality of Australia’s education, language used to teach and historic openness to diversity, all of which helped immigrants perform better.

The report says that overall socio-economic disadvantage and language barriers are the biggest obstacles to success at school and in society for students with an immigrant background.

‘A good education is essential to give young migrants the skills they need to overcome adversity, contribute to the economy and integrate into society,’ said Gabriela Ramos, OECD chief of staff who oversees the work of education at the OECD.

Academic underperformance among students with an immigrant background was found to be particularly high in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. In these countries, immigrant students are more than twice as likely as students without an immigrant background to fail to achieve baseline academic proficiency.

‘It is alarming that, if you compare a sample of 100 European students with an immigrant background with a similar group of native students, 15 more students in the immigrant group will fail to attain baseline levels of proficiency in science, reading and maths,’ said Ramos.

‘This is unacceptable and has long lasting effects on both integration and broader social cohesion. Countries need to do more to provide these kids with the means, instruments and support to succeed in school. We need targeted policies that give everyone the opportunity to fulfil their full potential,’ she added.

The report found that immigrant students felt a lower sense of belonging at school than non-immigrant students, reported less life satisfaction and higher schoolwork-related anxiety. However, many also expressed high levels of motivation to achieve their best in school and beyond.

The report found that teachers have a key role to play in helping students adjust in their classrooms and society more generally and suggests that they should be offered more support and training to deal with increasingly multicultural classrooms, tackling bullying and engaging with parents of immigrant students.

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