Integration of Newly Arrived Refugee Children into the German School System

P. Jager*, N. Ott, A. Brand, K. Fereidooni*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: The assignment of newly arrived refugee children to the differentiated German school system represents a major challenge for the responsible municipalities. In this explorative research approach, the current assignment procedure, in addition to the necessary assessment of performance and the detection of learning, mental, or social disabilities of newly arrived refugee children in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany, were investigated. Methods: Eight staff members of six relevant Communal Integration Centers (CICs) in NRW were interviewed and a qualitative content analysis was conducted. Results: The current assignment practices varied widely. The binding to guidelines differed; additionally, the school assignment or recommendation largely depended on personal engagement, connections, and attitudes of the relevant CIC staff. None of the CICs used standardized instruments. Instead, the staff assessed the performance with self-developed strategies such as free and playful approaches or self-developed worksheets, and counted on their 'gut feeling' and professional experience. Conclusion: The school career and education of newly arrived refugee children in NRW is largely inconsistent and dependent on the responsible CIC (e.g., the allocation of the family) and on the counseling staff member. Additionally, it must be assumed that relevant disabilities remain largely undetected.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7854
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • integration centers
  • school assignment
  • mental health
  • refugee children

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