ISOTIS is a collaborative project funded by the European Union, which includes 17 partners and 11 countries. The project started January, 2017, and will continue until December, 2019. ISOTIS aims to contribute to effective policy and practice development at different system levels in order to effectively combat early arising and persisting educational inequalities.




This is the first newsletter of, what we hope, will be an increasingly exciting series. The project ISOTIS, funded by the European Union within the Horizon2020 program, has just begun. ISOTIS is a continuation of the CARE-project (European Union 7th Framework Programme, grant agreement 613318; ) and involves many of the former CARE-partners. CARE addressed curriculum, quality and impact of early childhood education and care in Europe. ISOTIS expands on CARE by including the primary school phase and by focusing more specifically on the role of early and primary education in tackling inequality and exclusion.

We are currently working on questionnaires for a large-scale interview study, in 10 countries, of families who often suffer from disadvantage because of their immigrant, ethnic minority or working class background. In many respects this study reflects the positive mission of ISOTIS: giving voice to European citizens who, for some reason, are not participating in current societies in ways that fulfill their potentials and ambitions. Central questions are: how can we explain social inequality and exclusion, and what are the mechanisms of education and service systems that reproduce inequality and tend to exclude parts of the population?

We will speak with many parents and children to understand their perspectives. We want to talk with them about their experiences as citizens in societies that struggle with increasing cultural diversification. We want to find out about the mobility aspirations of parents and children, and learn about the cultural and linguistic resources they bring to preschool, school and society.

Even more important is the question: how can we tackle current inequality and exclusion? We will examine approaches within education and support services that help to create inclusive societies and to prevent early disadvantages in early stage. We will focus on new educational technologies and models of service coordination that hold promise for better intercultural communication, stronger partnerships between families and schools, respectful multilingual and multicultural policies at (pre)school and in society, and for empowering social support for children and families.

Building on the strengths and cultural resources of families and communities is the backbone of the social action that we want to initiate. Creating an inclusive society with an inclusive and effective education and support system: this seems a most promising strategy to tackle persistent inequalities. Join us!


Paul Leseman

ISOTIS Coordinator



ISOTIS coordinator Paul Leseman, from Utrecht University, The Netherlands, presenting the mission and the approach of this project.

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Central to ISOTIS are structured and open interviews with culturally and linguistically diverse mothers in 10 European countries. We will ask about their experiences with the educational system and support services, their family’s resources and support needs, and their well-being. The study focuses on mothers with a Turkish, Maghrebian (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), Roma or native low-income background who have a child in the age range 3-6 years or 9-12 years. 

Our aim is to understand the views of mothers in an open-minded and sensitive way. We expect that the information coming from the interviews will be very important for creating more inclusive education and care practices. We also expect that the findings will help daycare centers, preschools and schools to strengthen the partnerships with parents.

ISOTIS Researchers are currently working hard on the development of the survey and interview tools. The survey will be piloted in May and the preparations for the data collection have already started. The structured interview study will start in September. The open interview study, with a subsample of parents, will start in November. There will also be a child interview study, which starts after the summer of 2018. Would your organization, municipality, institute or (pre)school be interested in participating in this study?

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On January 15th – 17th 2017, the ISOTIS project has been officially launched with the ISOTIS Kick-off meeting. The meeting was organized by the Coordinator (Utrecht University) in Utrecht, The Netherlands. All ISOTIS partner institutions were represented at the meeting and the consortium welcomed also five Advisory board members, the ISOTIS Ethics advisor and the Project Officer from European Commission.

Over 60 researchers and advisors coordinated their work plans divided over several work packages (WPs). In ISOTIS, WP1 will address the macro-level aspects of education systems and educational reforms in a comparative perspective; WP2 is responsible for the large scale interview studies among immigrant, cultural minority and working class parents and children across Europe; WP3 focuses on home-based interventions and family support programs to increase equity and inclusion; WP4 addresses the (pre)school classroom context and evaluates approaches to intercultural and multilingual education; WP5 studies the intercultural competences of professionals both in education and service systems and in extra-curricular leisure programs; and WP6 looks at service coordination as a factor in combatting inequality and exclusion. WPs 3, 4 and 5 collaborate in a design-based research project aiming to introduce Virtual Learning Environments to support family-school partnerships, intercultural education and multilingual education. Two other WPs are in charge of general project management and dissemination and communication.

Upcoming meetings: 11-12 May Virtual Learning Environments in intercultural education (Utrecht, NL), 21 June Core team interview study & field work coordinators (Leiden, NL), 22-23 June Expert meeting Inclusive education (Leiden, NL).



• On February 14th, 2017, ISOTIS researchers Thomas Moser and Cathrine Myhre met with elements of National Centre for Multicultural Education (NAFO), Målfrid Blekka and Gro Svolsbru, in order to share information: consultations about recruitment and experience from research with Turkish families, key resources, and advices for further processes in the scope of ISOTIS.

• On February 23rd, Thomas Moser and Cathrine Myhre exchanged information and experience with researcher Brit Oppedal (Norwegian Institute for Public Health), who has conducted an international study (BRIDGES; Germany & The Netherlands) with Turkish families in Norway.

• Cathrine Myhre also shared information about ISOTIS with representatives of the Municipality of Drammen, Norway, namely regarding the recruitment of parents through kindergartens and schools, on March 27th, 2017.

• ISOTIS researcher Pauline Slot presented the ISOTIS project to Dutch policymakers of the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs, responsible for Early Child Care and Education, at the PO-debate, on February 16th, 2017. This presentation was part of a communication about the CARE Project - key findings regarding quality, curriculum and policy.



• On January 18th, 2017, ISOTIS researcher Pauline Slot carried out a presentation on a network meeting of a learning community in the Municipality of Utrecht, The Netherlands. More information can be consulted here.

• On February 20th, 2017, ISOTIS researchers Małgorzata Karwowska-Struczyk and Olga Wysłowska presented the communication "The ECEC sector in Poland and Europe on the basis of CARE and ISOTIS projects research", at the University of Gdańsk, Poland, during this seminar.

• ISOTIS researcher Jacqueline Barnes presented the communication “Why communities matter for child development” at the A Better Start Learning Cross-Site and Development Conference, held in Winter Gardens Blackpool, UK, on March 1st, 2017. More information about this event can be consulted here
The presentation is available here.

• On March 20th, 2017, ISOTIS researcher Bodine Romijn carried out a presentation on what it is like to be a PhD student involved in a large European project, at the event Onderzoeksparade, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.  More information can be consulted here.



ISOTIS recently released reviews on:
• Inequality in various stages of the educational career: Patterns and mechanisms – Literature review, by  Jan Skopek, Herman Van de Werfhorst, Jesper Rözer, Henrik Daae Zachrisson, Thomas van Huizen

Download the full report (pdf).

• Parent and family focused support to increase educational equality – Central assumptions and core concepts, by Yvonne Anders, Joana Cadima, Maria Evangelou, Gil Nata

Download the full report (pdf).

• Short literature review of main trends and challenges in curriculum approaches, educational practices, and social climate interventions aiming to tackle social inequalities, by Cecília Aguiar, Giulia Pastori, Ana Camacho, Rita Guerra, Ricardo Rodrigues

Download the full report (pdf).

• The role of professionals in promoting diversity and inclusiveness, by Pauline Slot, Bénédicte Halba, Bodine Romijn

Download the full report (pdf).

• Inter-agency coordination of services for children and families - Initial literature review, by Jacqueline Barnes and Edward Melhuish with Joana Carla Guerra, Malgorzata Karwowska-Struczyk, Konstantinos Petrogiannis, Olga Wyslowska, Henrik Dae Zachrisson

Download the full report (pdf)

ISOTIS also recently released an integration of the previous reports on literature review:

• Theoretical framework: A brief integration of literature reviews by ISOTIS work packages, edited by Thomas Moser, Martine Broekhuizen, Paul Leseman, Edward Melhuish

Download the full report (pdf)

Download the full reports from our publications webpage, and comment on Facebook.

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• ISOSTIS researchers Henrik Daae Zachrisson and Edward Melhuish are the authors of the chapter “Early Childhood Education and Care”, included in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development.

More information about this publication is available here.



If you want to know what is happening in the ISOTIS project, subscribe to our newsletter at the project website:

Newsletters will be released every three months. Stay tuned!

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ISOTIS: Giving voice to a diverse and inclusive European society.
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This project has received funding from the European Union’ s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 727069.