New in Vienna - A study on the opportunities and challenges of school inclusion of Ukrainian children and youths

As part of the project "A multi-perspective study on German language support classes", the spin-off project "New in Vienna - A study on opportunities and challenges of school inclusion of Ukrainian children and youth" is currently being carried out. In the course of the project, interviews are conducted with school administrators and teachers. The interviewed teachers work in classes that are attended by students who have fled from Ukraine, among others.

2 head teachers and 12 teachers from a total of 7 school locations have participated in the interview study. Regarding the qualifications of the study participants, it should be noted that only two of the 10 teachers interviewed have training in teaching German as a second language. The other teachers interviewed were selected, among other things, on the basis of their language skills in Ukrainian and/or Russian, their work as German teachers or their voluntary willingness to support the teaching of Ukrainian pupils. This result indicates that there is a shortage of (formally) qualified teachers locally. 

Overall, the results of the present study show that schools take individual approaches to implementing support for refugee students from Ukraine. The approaches to the schooling of Ukrainian students are very different at the various school locations. It can be seen that the children and young people are predominantly placed into the mainstream classes, although the number of German support lessons varies greatly. According to the school administrators and teachers interviewed, the Ukrainian students spend between 4 hours and the entire teaching time separate classes. In this context, some of the study participants expressed the fear that the Ukrainian students would suffer considerable socio-emotional losses due to the often missing contact with learners from other classes. Therefore, some study participants reported a reduction in the number of German lessons in favor of the social participation of the refugee students in the mainstream classes. At four of the eight schools studied, some Ukrainian students have already been fully included into mainstream classes due to their advanced language skills. At one school location, there is a special procedure in which students from the regular German language support classes (with other first languages) and Ukrainian refugee students are placed in segregated classrooms.

As far as material resources are concerned, the majority of teachers surveyed are satisfied. According to the survey, teachers and school administrators say that they have enough materials to use in their lessons with Ukrainian students. However, the motivation of Ukrainian students to learn and perform is assessed both positively and negatively by the respondents. The interviewed teachers attribute the low engagement of some students to the lack of prospects of staying in Austria, the lack of support from parents and the often additional burden of attending school in Ukraine.

When asked about the optimal support for Ukrainian students, the majority of the study participants answered that the steady inclusion of Ukrainian learners into mainstream classes has top priority for the support of social-emotional development. Against this background, some teachers suggest that separate German language support should either be moved to the afternoon or significantly reduced. Furthermore, the interviewees express the wish to create more opportunities for encounters between different students and to train teachers' sensitivity for aspects of interculturality.

Project duration10/2022 – 

 Further information

Project staff