Welcoming refugee children to your school

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05 June 2018
Any pupil joining a school or class other than at the start of a key stage has a challenging transition facing them. For children from refugee families, whenever they start school, the challenge of fitting in is likely to be most acute.

Refugee children joining your school may well have experienced trauma and have disturbing memories of leaving home and the journey that followed. They are now likely to be confronted with classes without a single familiar face and no-one speaking their own language.

In many ways, the task faced by teachers is the same with regard to all new children. The goal is to make them feel welcome, provide support, encourage friendships, and make sensitive assessments about language needs, learning needs and wellbeing.

Creating Refugee-friendly Schools

The practical suggestions in this guide are intended to help teachers to create refugee-friendly classrooms. Some are obviously more applicable to younger children whilst others require greater maturity; but most will be of benefit to children of all ages.

Only teachers can decide which are appropriate in their teaching situation and relevant to their subject. Teachers must judge how to make them appropriate to the ages of their pupils and in secondary schools the subjects they teach. The suggestions in the guide are grouped under six headings:

  • asking for help and support
  • providing induction
  • utilising the skills of other children
  • creating a climate in which refugee children feel welcome and valued
  • making the curriculum accessible
  • organising the classroom.

Download the guide now

Further resources

The National Education Union has also produced a series of film clips and teacher notes for use in training and discussion at staff meetings and INSET days.