Engaging Migrant and Refugee Parents: highlights from “Open Arms, Open Hearts”

Dr. Eszter Salamon presenting a webinar at the University of Glasgow on engaging migrant and refugee parents.


Engaging migrant and refugee parents in the educational process is often a challenging task for educators, owing in no small measure to the complexities of the challenges they have to rise up to when relocating from their country of origin, which adds to the challenges of parenting in the first place. This topic was thoroughly explored in the fifth webinar of the University of Glasgow’s series on parental engagement, “Open Arms, Open Hearts,” led by Dr. Eszter Salamon on May 22. The webinar attracted over 60 participants and offered evidence-based strategies to enhance engagement with these parents. The recording of the webinar is available for those who missed the live session.

Challenges in Parental Engagement

Engaging migrant and refugee parents presents unique challenges beyond the usual difficulties faced by educators. These challenges often stem from cultural diversity and the personal experiences of these parents. The webinar aimed to inspire participants to explore their own competences, biases, and tools, and to learn from migrant and refugee parents to become more inclusive. Participants were encouraged to reflect on their own practices and consider new approaches to better engage these parents.

Research Outcomes on Engaging Migrant and Refugee Parents

The webinar presented recent research findings on the engagement of migrant and refugee parents, focusing on four key areas: teachers, parents, the policy environment, and general learning points from practice. This presentation drew on research conducted by the European Education Policy Network on Teachers and School Leaders, the Parents Engage project, and recent studies by the Brookings Institution.

Project Outcomes and Practical Tools

Several relevant project outcomes were highlighted during the webinar, providing support for both parents and education professionals. Key projects included the Parents Engage training, the Parent’R’Us methodology, and tools developed in Open School Doors, CoMap, and PHERECLOS. Additionally, resources like the ParentHelp Info page and Library were introduced, along with the Brookings Playbook and conversation starter tools set to be published on June 4. Simple activities were also presented to help start the engagement process, particularly for parents from challenging environments.

Key Messages from the Webinar

The webinar delivered several important messages for educators working with migrant and refugee parents:

  • An asset-based approach to parents is essential for effective engagement.
  • Teacher training should include general parental engagement, working with culturally diverse groups, and trauma-informed methodologies.
  • Strategies that work for other disadvantaged groups often apply to migrant and refugee parents as well.
  • Engaging with all parents should be a recognized part of a teacher’s workload and reflected in their remuneration.

Access to Webinar Recording

For those interested in the detailed content of the webinar, the recording is available here.

Conclusion: Engaging Migrant and Refugee Parents

The first two episodes of the University of Glasgow’s webinar series featured notable speakers, including Professor Janet Goodall, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, and Professor Debbie Pushor, keynote speaker at the Parent Summit 2022. These sessions continue to provide valuable insights into parental engagement, particularly for migrant and refugee parents, fostering a more inclusive and supportive educational environment.

More on Parental Engagement: Project Parents Engage

Among International Parents Alliance’s projects, Parents Engage deals directly with the topic or engaging migrant and refugee parents. You can find the Project’s Policy Recommendations here.

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