Refugee children and young people: Effective schooling and integration

Monday, 16 May 2016

Teaching

Today’s news coverage on the plight of refugee children has usefully raised the profile of how refugee children and young people are supported, educated and ultimately integrated once they are members of society in the UK.

David Brown, a Visiting Fellow at Oxford Brookes’ School of Education and Chief Executive of Chapel St Schools Trust and Catherine Gladwell, Director of the Refugee Support Network, have been exploring with a number of partners, the lessons learnt from countries around the world about what effective education and schooling solutions might be.

David said: “Much of the early work done in Sweden and Germany suggests that we need to work hard to ensure that refugee children are not just placed in groups in a small number of schools with spare places and very little support. Ghettoisation and a failure to get the first few weeks right is a real risk which then inhibits the language development, assessment work and pro-active relationships which are so needed when refugees first arrive.

“Work with parents is also critical as refugees come from a very wide range of backgrounds. Support strategies for families, to ensure that children are able to focus on education and integration with peers, remains a key factor in the success of refugee children when they are in mainstream schools.”

Much of the early work done in Sweden and Germany suggests that we need to work hard to ensure that refugee children are not just placed in groups in a small number of schools with spare places and very little support.

David Brown, Visiting Fellow at Oxford Brookes University and Chief Executive of Chapel St Schools Trust

The UNHCR’s special envoy, Angelina Jolie Pitt, today spoke as part of the BBC’s World on the Move day of special live coverage and pointed out this is an area of immediate concern where policy advice is needed and innovative strategies are a priority.

Working with Chapel St School’s Trust, Refugee Support Network, the UK's leading provider of educational mentoring for child refugees and For Refugees, a coalition of churches, faith groups and community organisations welcoming refugees, Oxford Brookes is looking at the possibility of researching and piloting initiatives which offer the holistic welcome and specialist attention that refugee children require.

Dr Russell Rook, Chair of For Refugees said: "By informing new models of schooling, teacher training and school support, we have the potential to offer children who have survived in dark places with fresh hope for today and a bright new tomorrow."

The full discussion report, Refugee children and young people: developing a pro-active and systemic approach to effective schooling and integration, can be found online.