Refugees scarred by war, then by our schools

9th May 2008 at 01:00
Teachers should receive specialist training to work with refugee pupils, says a study published this week by the Refugee Council
Teachers should receive specialist training to work with refugee pupils, says a study published this week by the Refugee Council.

The report also says that school-age asylum-seeking children should not be deported if it would disrupt their education or upset the school.

Beyond the School Gates: Supporting Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Secondary School found many refugee children waited months for a school place, and were often bullied because their families could not afford uniforms or extra activities.

Experiences of war and flight had often left children with behavioural problems, but teachers were rarely trained to deal with these. Lisa Doyle, author of the report, said: "Lots of pupils' education has been interrupted because of persecution, civil unrest and war. If teachers are aware of the context children have come from, they can start to seek specialist advice and support."

The report recommends that secondaries should "deliver support to refugees and asylum-seeking young people in sensitive ways, so as not to mark them out as different from their peers" and that they should "raise awareness about refugee issues (and) ensure they have anti-bullying and anti-racism policies".

It also suggests that local authorities provide guidance to parents on accessing the education system and that financial support is made available to fund uniforms and trips.

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