A YORKSHIRE university is leading a European project to help teachers educate children in ethnically diverse classrooms by asking pupils how their lessons could be improved.
The three-year project being led by Hull University involves schools from the city alongside secondaries in Lisbon, Madrid and Manchester.
The research will examine how an increasing number of children from different ethnic backgrounds in a school can affect how a teacher does their job.
It aims to make lessons more inclusive for pupils. Building on findings from earlier research carried out in Hull schools, academics will be asking children at the participating schools for their own views.
Dr Kiki Messiou, from Hull University’s faculty of education, who is co-ordinating the project, said: “Our work with schools in Hull has demonstrated how children and young people can help teachers to think of new ways to improve their practices.
“The problem is that we have underestimated their role and, until now, their voices have been largely silent.
“Across Europe the biggest challenge facing teachers is that of responding to learner diversity. Increased population movement between countries has added to the urgency of this issue, with schools in most countries admitting more young people with ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences.”
The work is being supported by the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme and has been awarded a grant of more than £230,000.
Dr Messiou said the research would also look at improving ways in which schools teach children with special needs and those from poorer backgrounds.
She added: “There is widespread concern regarding the progress of students defined as having special educational needs and those from economically poor backgrounds who tend to lose out most starkly.”
Angela Martinson, the head at Newland School for Girls, in Hull, one of eight schools taking part, said: “We are very pleased to be part of this initiative. Catering for student differences is one of our priorities.”
Andrew Chubb, the principal of Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull, added: “We are all very interested in this exciting project and are looking forward to being involved with the international partners.”