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Schools told Kosovo refugees will stay for at least a year

SCHOOLS IN Glasgow, Renfrew and East Lothian are preparing to receive extra pupils following the arrival of more than 300 Kosovan refugees last weekend.

Headteachers in Glasgow - which has taken 200 refugees into the Balornock and Sighthill areas in the north of the city - are being contacted to assess the availability of places. "The plan is to provide education as soon as possible and to keep children as locally as possible," a council spokesman said.

A meeting with headteachers in Renfrew discussed provision for children from a group of 70 refugees. A period of settling in and assessment - involving an educational psychologist - will take place before children enter schools, Shelagh Rae, Renfrew's education director, said. English language classes are a priority.

"Some will be more traumatised than others and may require different approaches," Mrs Rae said.

Parents will be consulted on whether they wish their children to be kept together or spread around the school system. "The whole thrust is to go at the pace and with the wishes of the refugees, and not to impose anything on them."

East Lothian received 50 refugees, including 19 of school age, at a centre in North Berwick in the early hours of Monday . Alan Blackie, director of education, said that after a period of settling in, assessment and language training, "the plan is to get children into schools reasonably quickly".

The council is working on the assumption that "they will be here until June 2000 as a minimum".

Children will be integrated into classes "according to age, stage and needs. They will not be kept in groups except initially to learn English," Mr Blackie said. "Previous experience has shown us that children learn English very quickly indeed because they are mixing with other children and living in the community."

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