The Education of Portuguese Students in England and Channel Islands schools

  • Final report, by Guida de Abreu and Hannah Lambert, of the three year research project "The Education of Portuguese Students in England and Channel Islands schools", commissioned by the "Departamento da Educação Basica"- Portugal to the Department of Psychology, University of Luton, England (July 2003).

Structure of the report.

  • Presents information about the authors and contents of the report

Executive summary (Pages i-xii).

  • Overview of the report outlining principal questions, research studies and participants, principal findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Chapter 1: Background and Structure (Pages 1-9).

  • This chapter presents an overview of the background that motivated the investigation; the outcomes of the review of literature on schooling of Portuguese students in Britain and overseas; and, the structure of the current report.

Chapter 2: Overview of the performance of Portuguese students in schools in England and Jersey (Pages 11-21).

  • This chapter provides an overview of the survey conducted between January 2000 and December 2000, which collated and interpreted quantitative information about the performance of Portuguese children in public examinations from the areas of London, the South Coast of England and Jersey.

Chapter 3: The questionnaire study - Cultural identity, preferences and expectations of Portuguese students in English schools (Pages 22-39).

  • This chapter describes a questionnaire study conducted with 465 Portuguese students aged 7-21 years. They were enrolled in Portuguese classes in schools in London. One set of questions addressed the "given" aspects of identity, such as, gender, place of birth, language spoken with parents. The other set of questions addressed more subtle aspects relating to attitudes, values and expectations, such as language preference, attitudes toward school, relationships with their birth country and expectations about the future.

Chapter 4: Students' written life stories (Pages 40-76).

  • This chapter examines written life stories collected from 304 Portuguese students, including primary, secondary and post-secondary school level students. These stories provided students' own perspectives on how their lives had been experienced. They offered deep insights into what events marked their lives, how these events had been interpreted at different stages of life and what adaptive strategies they used to reconcile and resolve conflicts of the past, adjust to the present and project the future.

Chapter 5: The case study project in England: the schools, the students and their parents (Pages 78-97).

  • This chapter sets the scene for the case study project outlining the main principles guiding this research; the methods used to collect data; the criteria for selection of the case study schools and students. The final sample participating in the case studies in England involved 40 students (aged from 7-19 years), 22 parents, 23 English teachers and 6 Portuguese teachers.

Chapter 6: Family experiences: migration, a new life, and hopes for the future.

  • The research questions addressed in this chapter are:
  1. What type of life trajectories and experiences characterised the migration process and the adaptation of Portuguese families in England in this sample?
  2. Do Portuguese families have a typical way of life in England? What do they do for a living? Do they maintain connections with Portugal?
  3. What are the hopes of Portuguese families for their future? Do they have high career expectations?

Chapter 7: Schooling in England: students' and parents' perspectives (Pages 122-145).

  • The main questions addressed in this chapter are:
  1. How do Portuguese children experience their academic and social lives in English schools?
  2. What do they perceive as their main difficulties when starting school in England?
  3. What types of strategies and resources do they view as positive in their adaptation to school?

Chapter 8: Home-school relationships (Pages 146-168).

  • The research questions addressed in this chapter are:
  1. How do Portuguese parents engage with their children's English schools? In particular this chapter will focus on how they participate in practices such as choice of school, contacting the school, getting information on how well their children are doing and supporting them with homework.
  2. How do Portuguese students view the extent to which their parents engage with their schooling?

Chapter 9: Students' use of languages, learning and fluency (Pages 169-199).

  • The main questions addressed in this chapter are:
  1. What language(s) did the student speak at home?
  2. What language(s) did the student speak at school?
  3. How did the students perceive and develop their fluency in the English language?

Chapter 10: Language and cultural identities in the contexts of family lives and school (Pages 200-217).

  • The research questions addressed in this chapter are:
  1. How do parents perceive their children's and their own fluency in the English language?
  2. How do family needs and practices shape the language development of their children?
  3. Is there a relationship between language preferences and identities?
  4. How can families and schools support the development of bilingual identities?

Chapter 11: Exploring the teachers' perspectives (Pages 218-253).

  • The main questions addressed in this chapter are:
  1. How do teachers perceive the situation of Portuguese students in schools in England?
  2. How do the views of teachers regarding Portuguese students vary within and between schools?
  3. What reasons do teachers suggest are at the crux of the difficulties experienced by Portuguese students?

Chapter 12: Teachers' observations on good practice in working with Portuguese students (Pages 254-269).

  • This chapter examines a range of approaches and strategies adopted by teachers, who have contributed to good practice in the teaching of Portuguese students.

Chapter 13: The questionnaire study in Jersey (Pages 270-282).

  • This chapter describes the questionnaire study conducted with 213 Portuguese students, who were attending schools from all over the island. These students were enrolled in classes from 32 different schools in total. 48% of the students were attending Primary school and 52% were attending Secondary school.

Chapter 14: The case study project in Jersey (Pages 283-336).

  • This chapter describes the case study project in Jersey. The case studies in Jersey were the last ones to be conducted in the project and the majority of the schools visited in England had been primary schools. Therefore, as one of our objectives was to gain a balanced insight into the lives of Portuguese students in the UK and Channel Islands, we decided that in Jersey, we would only focus on secondary school and sixth form college students, and their parents and teachers.


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