Program Intervention

PIER intervention

The intervention ‘Peer Integration and Enhacement Resource’ (PIER) develops a participatory approach to supporting safe, positive peer interactions and social relationships in multi-ethnic schools. Through clustering pupils with migrant and non-migrant background in small collaborative groups working together on establishing social connection and participatory activities in the school context, the intervention aims at strengthening school belonging and promoting dialogue between minority and majority groups.

PIER intervention

Peer Integration and Enhancement Resource (responsible expert: University of Sussex, UK; implementing partners: University of Sussex, UK; University of Tampere, Finland)

The PIER intervention works with a Manual and an Implementation protocol.

Watch our short video here explaining the PIER intervention

The intervention builds on research undertaken by Watters and colleagues (2009) in schools in the UK that observed an integrationist attitude as positively associated with two psychosocial outcomes: self-esteem and peer acceptance. The findings provided strong support for Berry’s (1997) prediction that an acculturation attitude that combines both culture maintenance and intergroup contact will have the most favourable prognosis for well-being.

However, the research found that an integrationist outlook at one time point predicted a greater number of negative emotional symptoms suggesting that endorsing integration was something of a two-edged sword: it increased self-esteem and acceptance by peers, but also led to manifesting more negative emotional symptoms. The research indicated that the quest to be integrated, involving engagement alongside cultural maintenance may have consequences in terms of discriminatory behaviours.

In a study of educational achievement in Belgian secondary schools, it was found that an integrationist orientation was linked to academic success only for students who experienced relatively low levels of discrimination; for those reporting higher levels of discrimination, academic achievement was noticeably lower (Baysu, Phalet & Brown, 2011).

A helpful orientation towards examining intergroup interactions in this context is to focus on the generation of social capital, specifically the ways in which both bonding and bridging social capital is developed in schools. Previous research has demonstrated the close relationship between bridging social capital and an integrationist approach (Watters et al., 2009). This intervention provides an opportunity to examine strategies aimed at developing positive peer interactions and social support in the context of multi-ethnic schools.

PIER has been initially based in a school that has introduced refugee children in recent years and has been active in trying to support an integrative approach. The school offers specific initiatives aimed towards enhancing students integration including classes aimed at appreciating cultural diversity and focussed on the `World on the Move’ that aims to enhance understanding of migratory processes.

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PIER_Manual. Watters, C., Soye, E., & Meier, I. (2021). Peer Integration and Enhancement Resource (PIER) Manual. UK: University of Sussex.

PIER_Student Materials

PIER Implementation Protocol. Soye, E., Watters., C. & Punamäki, R.L. (2021). RefugeesWellSchool implementation protocol: Peer Integration and Enhancement Resource (PIER). Sussex, Gent: University of Sussex, Ghent University.

Peltonen, K., Aalto, S., Vänskä, M., Lepistö, R., Punamäki, R.-L., Soye, E., Watters, C., de Wal Pastoor, L., Derluyn, I., & Kankaanpää, R. (2022). Effectiveness of Promotive and Preventive Psychosocial Interventions on Improving the Mental Health of Finnish-Born and Immigrant Adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(6), 3686.