The Education of Portuguese Children in Britain: Insights from Research and Practice in England and Overseas

  • This publication edited by Guida de Abreu, Tony Cline and Hannah Lambert (May, 2003), is based on contributions to a working conference sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Department of Basic Education, Portuguese Government.


  • Information about the Editors, date, acknowledgements and contents of the book, list of contributors

Introduction, by Guida de Abreu & Tony Cline (Pages 1-6).

  • Currently the scarce information about research and education of Portuguese students overseas is widely dispersed among those involved. To cover this deficit in November 2001 a working conference sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Portuguese Department of Education and the Department of Psychology of the University of Luton was held at Luton, England. This publication is a product of the collaboration realised in this conference. It includes contributions from colleagues working in Britain and overseas.

Chapter 1: Academic achievement of Portuguese children in British schools, by Guida de Abreu, Teresa Silva & Hannah Lambert (pages 7-31).

  • This chapter describes the background of research with Portuguese children in British Schools. Key findings of a survey conducted in 2000, about the performance of Portuguese children in public examinations from the areas of London, the South Coast of England and Jersey are presented.

Chapter 2: "A disappearing act": Portuguese student - social inclusion and academic attainment , by Olga Barradas (Pages 32-50).

  • Olga Barradas presents an overview of some of the disadvantages experienced by Portuguese pupils in London schools today. The findings of her study focusing on the educational attainment of this group of students are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the apparently markedly low attendance of Portuguese pupils in schools and to the implications of this.

Chapter 3: The socio-cultural characteristics and needs of a Portuguese community in South London, by Maria Joao Nogueira & David Porteous (Pages 51-74).

  • Drawing on secondary sources and interviews with service providers, community representatives and local residents, the findings from the research study reported in this chapter provide a snapshot of a community, which is thought to have grown ten-fold in the last decade. The study provides insights into the context for and dynamics underpinning educational and social disadvantage within a Portuguese Community in South London and identifies the key areas for further policy research and development.

Chapter 4: From crying to controlling: how Portuguese girls adapted to their secondary school in England , by Guida de Abreu, Teresa Silva & Hannah Lambert (Pages 75-94).

  • This chapter examines some critical issues concerning the adaptation of Portuguese students to schools in England. The analysis draws on interviews conducted with students and parents in a secondary school in the South of England. Various aspects of the impact of language on the students' adaptation to school and life in England are discussed.

Chapter 5: Teachers' observations on good practice in working with Portuguese students, by Hannah Lambert & Guida de Abreu (Pages 95-114).

  • This chapter draws upon the analysis of interviews conducted with twenty five teachers to give an overview of the strategies, teaching techniques and adaptations of teachers' conduct adopted to facilitate the learning of Portuguese students.

Chapter 6: How can we teach Portuguese language and culture to Portuguese children who are ashamed of being Portuguese?: a perspective from France, by Maria Isabel Barreno (Pages 115-122).

  • This chapter explores the situation of Portuguese pupils in France. Maria Isabel Barreno discusses the destructive effects of assumptions and taken-for-granted inaccurate understandings that other countries have of Portugal. She suggests that this results in these individuals feeling ashamed to be Portuguese and thus reluctant to attend Portuguese classes, rather than proud of their culture and bilingualism. Possible solutions to these problems are examined.

Chapter 7: Marginalisation, social reproduction and academic underachievement: The case of the Portuguese community in Canada, by Fernando Nunes (Pages 122-158).

  • The chapter begins with a short profile of the Portuguese community in Canada and an introduction to the historical situation of Portuguese-Canadian children in the Toronto Public school system. It then illustrates how ongoing educational issues were seen by Luso-Canadians, who participated in a recent national study. It finishes by arguing that the academic underachievement problem cannot simply be attributed to the lack of Luso-Canadian parental support for education, but rather is the result of the ongoing economic, political and cultural marginalization of this community.

Chapter 8: Don Quixote and the windmills of social class and ethnic origin: community attempts to improve the situation of Portuguese-Canadian students in Ontario schools , by Ilda Januario (Pages 159-178).

  • In this chapter Ilda Januario gives an overview of the current situation of Portuguese-Canadian students in Ontario schools and the efforts of community activists to improve their academic achievement. Her analysis is based in particular on the volunteer work conducted by the Portuguese-Canadian Coalition for Better Education with the Ministry of Education and the public and Catholic schools in the areas of greatest concentration of Portuguese immigrants set against the backdrop of political change in Ontario.

Chapter 9: Mother tongue development and educational achievement: perspective from practice , by Amy Thompson (Pages 179-197).

  • The relationship between first and second language acquisition and academic achievement has been subject to research over a number of years in the field of second language acquisition and bilingualism. The most notable research into this relationship is that which is expressed in the threshold and interdependence theories of Cummins (1979). This paper uses these two theories to examine the implications of the relationship for the educational achievement of Portuguese-background children in the London borough of Lambeth.

Chapter 10: The Portuguese Education Department in the United Kindgom, by Maria Amelia Estrela (Pages 198-216).

  • Maria Amelia Estrela, the former coordinator of the Portuguese Education Department in the U.K. presents in this chapter an insight into how this organisation was formed and has subsequently developed. Overall, this department aims to support the bilingual education of Portuguese migrant children in the U.K. Another aim of this service is to disseminate and promote the Portuguese language and culture in the U.K.

Chapter11: Conclusions and Recommendations, by Guida de Abreu and Tony Cline (Pages 217-223).

  • In this final section the editors attempt to draw out common lessons that can be learned from the various studies presented in previous chapters describing communities that have shared origins but very different current settings. After summarising the Key Findings they outline some Recommendations.


Dr Guida de Abreu, School of Social Sciences and Law, Psychology Department, Oxford Brookes University,Gipsy Lane, OX3 0BP, Oxford. E-mail gabreu at