Plenary Tuesday 22 May: Differentiation and diversity in schools and classrooms

Plenary Tuesday 22 May: Differentiation and diversity in schools and classrooms.
Keynote speakers: Professor Nihad Bunar, Professor Piia Seppänen.
Discussant: Professor Joron Pihl. Chair: Professor Gunilla Holm.

The one-school-for-all was a foundational principle for the comprehensive school systems developed in the latter part of the 20th century in the Nordic countries. Today various systems of school choice are challenging the so-called common school. At the same time, it is clear that students have different needs depending on their social circumstances. This session raises questions about how the needs of refugee and asylum-seeking students are met in our schools and the consequences of school choice policies.

Plenary Wednesday 23 May: Gender and sexuality in education


KEYNOTE LECTURE 1: Education of refugee and asylum-seeking students
– rights, obstacles, needs and beyond


Nihad Bunar, Professor of Child and Youth Studies
Stockholm University, Sweden

Refugee and asylum-seeking students have the right to meaningful and equal education aiming at fully developing personality, talents and abilities of every child. Drawing from this basic guiding principle defined in international legislation and a variety of empirical examples, this presentation will describe and analyze how rights, obstacles and needs of newly arrived students are defined, realized and dealt with in schools and local communities.

Professor Nihad Bunar

Professor Nihad Bunar

Professor Nihad Bunar‘s research analyses the learning conditions for newly arrived children in Swedish schools, school choice, urban education and the role of education in preventing radicalization. Nihad Bunar has a large number of publications (articles in peer-reviewed journals, reports, book-chapters and books) in Swedish and English.

He has also served as an expert and adviser for the EU Commission (NESET), OECD (PISA report; School market), Education International and British Council (MIPEX Education Strand) on topics related to migration and education.


KEYNOTE LECTURE 2: Segmenting trends within comprehensive schools in Finland


Piia Seppänen, Professor of Education (comparative education and education policy)
Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning and Education (CELE), University of Turku, Finland

Despite a seemingly uniform, neighborhood-based and entirely public comprehensive schooling system in Finland, recent research highlights segmentation trends in urban areas. Although social segregation between schools reflects social segregation in urban areas, more significant segmentation tendencies are evident between study groups or school classes once pupil selection and parental school choice policies are considered. Drawing on a range of empirical evidence from urban Finland, this presentation illustrates how ‘choice-led’ pupil enrolment is connected with pupils’ socio-economic background, the reputations of school classes, and various social positionings of pupils within comprehensive schools in Finland.

Professor Piia Seppänen

Much of Professor Piia Seppänen‘s scholarly work has focused on school choice policy, pupil selection, classed practices, urban social segregation and comprehensive schooling systems. Seppänen has co-edited the following books:

Lohkoutuva peruskoulu (2015) [segmenting compulsory school in Finland], Finnish Educational Research Association
Contrasting Dynamics in Education Politics of Extremes: school choice in Chile and Finland (2015), Sense Publishers

She is currently leading the research project “Hollowing Out of Public Education Systems? Private Actors in Compulsory Schooling in Finland, Sweden and New Zealand (HOPES)” 2017-2021 funded by Academy of Finland.

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