London Metropolitan University Research Institutes


Young people's educational attainment in London's Turkish, Turkish Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot Communities

Funded by:

The Mayor of London's Office


October 2007 - March 2008

The Mayor of London’s Office commissioned the Institute IPSE to carry out research exploring the educational attainment of young people from London’s Turkish, Turkish Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot communities.

IPSE was asked to work from the recommendations presented by the London Challenge Turkish Forum, one of a number of forums established by the DfES (now DCSF) to raise educational attainment and aspirations of 11-19 year olds within London’s minority ethnic communities. IPSE was asked to assess the possibilities for intervention to raise levels of achievement among these communities. Specifically this report addresses the educational challenges facing Turkish, Turkish Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot communities based in London, all of whom have the Turkish Language in common.

Alongside gathering statistical data on the educational attainment of these communities from 4 London boroughs, the experiences and perceptions of key informants from each community were examined. The IPSE research team focused on areas including: challenges faced by children in the classroom; issues affecting parental involvement; barriers to employment for teachers with overseas qualifications; challenges facing community organisations representing and working for these communities; and issues affecting maintained schools and Local Authorities.

The final report was presented in April 2008, outlining major findings, examples of good practice and recommendations for policy.

Some key findings:

        • Participants suggested that there is a lack of opportunities for pupils to develop and use their first language, as well as English, both conversationally and academically in schools.
        • There is a sense that teachers are not fully trained to recognise the needs of Turkish, Turkish Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot children. It was suggested that EAL is seen, by teachers and schools, as a hindrance to learning rather than an important asset.
        • Schools were making efforts to reach parents within these communities through developing a number of initiatives, but report a poor response from parents
        • Support materials for non-English speaking parents are seen to be generally inaccessible and poorly translated.
        • Overseas-qualified teachers experience a general non-recognition of their overseas qualifications in their UK, and a lack of clarity about how they can retrain and transfer their skills.
        • There is a lack of collaboration in helping Turkish, Turkish Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot children’s performance in schools. Supplementary schools and community organisations can provide important resources for schools and Local Authorities but are not being used to their full potential.
        • Community organisations run a range of initiatives aimed at increasing the educational attainment of children in their communities but limited funding and resources, as well as the short time-scale of the projects, restricts the level of impact these can have.

Some key recommendations:

        • Schools should earmark funds for initiatives that seek to raise the attainment of under-achieving pupils, such as long-term investment in bilingual learning initiatives across the curriculum.
        • Consideration should be given to the recruitment of more Turkish-speaking teaching staff, mentors and assistants in maintained schools.
        • Schools should provide regular CPD and training for all staff to develop their skills for bilingual teaching and in supporting pupils with English as a second language.
        • Schools could take greater steps to involve Turkish, Turkish Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot parents in school activities and encourage them to take part in parent-teacher associations and become school governors.
        • Local Authorities should encourage schools to collect and report attainment data according to the DCSF extended ethic categories, including Turkish Kurdish, Turkish (mainland) and Turkish Cypriot, as well as other Kurdish and Cypriot groups.
        • Local Authorities should recognise the important resource provided by community organisations and supplementary schools and assess the possibility for providing brokerage support to build relationships between these and maintained schools.
        • The DCSF should ensure that Information for parents on the UK education system is translated appropriately with an avoidance of ‘jargon’ and an appreciation of cultural and linguistic needs of the respective communities. The DCSF should also assess the best ways to distribute this information.
        • The DCSF could further emphasise the importance of bilingualism within education across national secondary and primary strategies. It should consider asking the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) to develop bilingual teaching materials and resources for all subjects across the curriculum.
        • The department should recognise the importance of providing ESOL and adult education classes to Turkish-speaking parents to the governments wider Skills Strategy and to increasing parental involvement in their child’s learning, within these communities.
        • Coherent and clear pathways for training should be made available to those with overseas qualifications, and that these include the recognition of prior knowledge and training outside of the UK.
        • Parents should be encouraged to discuss with teaching and support staff the opportunities available to become involved in the school and share their expectations, needs and concerns.
        • Parents could learn alongside and with their child; explore the possibilities for learning a skill or a language together, or simply act as a role model of a learner following other courses.


All publications related to this project

Project team

Tozun Issa

Kim Allen

Alistair Ross


Tozun Issa -


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