Fear to friendship

13th April 2001 at 01:00
The first children of asylum-seekers arrived at Albert Primary in May last year and the school now has 27, but when the news was out that the children were coming, a group of parents came to the school to protest.

"They thought it was my doing rather than the council's and they were up in arms about it," says headteacher Sabiha Usmani.

A meeting was arranged at which Glasgow City council and the school management explained their plans and listened to the parents.

"We told them more resources would be provided and their own children's education wouldn't suffer at all," says Mrs Usmani.

"And there were parents who spoke up for the asylum-seekers and said their children were entitled o an education just like ours.

"Then, at the prize-giving, we got the children to do a wee presentation, just to stand up and say a few words about themselves. That went really well and the kids managed to win over most of the parents."

Although the new P1 children went straight into Mrs Din's class, the older ones attended a special language unit for a while before being gradually introduced to normal classes.

"They've fitted in and I think it's been an enriching experience for the other pupils," says Mrs Usmani, "as they've learned to get on with the new children and to pronounce strange-sounding names, and see for themselves that the whole world isn't white and Scottish."

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