Immigrant Families’ Relationship with the School System : A Survey of Four Working-Class Suburban High Schools

By Mathieu Ichou, Marco Oberti, Oliver Waine

This article provides an empirical analysis of immigrant families’ relationship with the school system in working-class suburbs of Paris. The findings are based on a multivariate analysis of a questionnaire survey (N = 1,191) as well as semi-structured interviews conducted with parents of students in four high schools in the Seine-Saint-Denis département. We show that a migration background shapes parents’ relationship with the school system. Stronger community educational support and higher educational aspirations are observed among immigrant parents compared to native parents of the same social backgrounds living in the same neighbourhoods. Among immigrant families, parents from Turkey and Asia differ most with respect to native parents in their relationship with the school system. The former tend to turn much more often to their local community for educational support, while the latter are characterized by especially high educational aspirations. These findings call for future systematic analyses of migrants’ pre-migration experiences and characteristics in order to shed light on their subsequent trajectories and attitudes in the country of immigration.


  • relationship with the school system
  • working-class neighbourhoods
  • immigrants and children of immigrants
  • community educational support
  • educational aspirations
Go to the article on