About TEAMS Project

Increasing global migration brings considerable challenges for schools and teachers. Teaching that matters for migrant students aims to understand and  help teachers meet the needs of migrant students. The project focuses on the work of teachers within different schools and different support systems that are available to students and teachers in Sweden, Finland and Scotland.

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TEAMS project analytical framework

TEAMS project applies several key concepts from social and learning theory to undertake a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, mixed-method study of migrant integration in education. Our analytical framework shows how the central concept of teachers’ relational agency relates to their professional collaboration with others in the system to facilitate migrant integration. We examine to what extent such collaboration aligns to the principles of inclusive pedagogy to facilitate aspects of integration, including migrant students’ academic success, cross-cultural socialisation and a sense of belonging to the school community, and to what extent different social and policy contexts of schools and education systems support collaboration for inclusion.


Social Network Analysis

Relational Agency

The concept of relational agency coined by Anne Edwards to describe teachers working flexibly and purposefully with other actors within and beyond school, enables us to explore how teachers use available support to remove barriers and promote migrant students’ integration in schools. The project adopts a socio-cultural perspective of teacher agency as an interplay between individual beliefs and practices, the social and cultural environments of school communities and the wider institutional and policy contexts of education systems.

Interactions with others in the system are seen as both a function of agency (e.g. when teachers reach out to families, colleagues or other professionals), and among the key factors that support agency (e.g. where relationships are characterised by trust and support). TEAMS employs a mixed-method social network analysis to examine teachers’ interaction around migrant students as mechanism for building more stable relationships over time that could facilitate building inclusive school cultures for all students.

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Inclusive Pedagogy

TEAMS applies the inclusive pedagogy approach to consider how teachers and other professionals work together to support migrant students’ participation in school and classroom activities while avoiding the marginalization that can occur by treating migrant students differently to others. The central tenet of inclusive pedagogy is the idea that differences are to be expected as an ordinary aspect of human development. This approach replaces a focus on singular identities (e.g. migrants) and the problem of integration for particular types of individuals and groups with new ways of thinking about human diversity as a fundamental and ordinary aspect of human development.

…Importantly, this approach is concerned with students’ academic success well as their holistic experience of schooling, which, in our study, includes migrants’ cross-cultural socialisation and a sense of belonging to the school community. In light of modes of civic incorporation proposed by Jeffrey Alexander, his approach enables us to examine migrant students’ multicultural incorporation within school communities, that promotes social cohesion through multicultural interactions in contrast to segregating migrant students from their native peers.

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Social Network Analysis

Teachers’ social networks are particularly important aspects of school communities because teachers draw on collegial knowledge and conform to local norms. Social network analysis allows us to examine simultaneously the overall social structure of a school, and the expertise and resources exchanged through interactions both within and beyond schools. Teachers’ collaborative practices have been critical for creating opportunities to participate in a range of social networks that are beneficial for migrants’ socialising with non-migrant peers, and academic learning.

Teachers might work with counsellors, social workers, mental health professionals, or parents to support migrant students and shape the process through which migrant students develop a sense of belonging in their school and community. In this respect, we expect in networks that facilitate integration teachers interact with a wide range of actors, including staff that support all students.


TEAMS combines social network analysis with ethnographic fieldwork to understand both the structures and content of interactions, as well as the different contexts for inclusive community-building processes across different school sites. Ethnographic fieldwork will help us uncover authentic ways of helping migrant students navigate the formal structures of schooling to address intersecting barriers such as language, poverty, racial prejudice, or peer discrimination. Migrants’ experiences can vary greatly and may involve the need for specific support to overcome these barriers, as well as positive use of the experiences and resources they bring to school communities, such as cultural and linguistic diversity.

We seek to understand a range of migrant students’ experiences and identify the conditions that facilitate integration. We posit that collaboration around inclusive norms involves approaches to address risks of exclusion and underachievement, that foster universal, rather than specialized, systems of student support. We also review relevant policies to examine how they facilitate (or not) migrant integration in schools.