School is first stop for refugees
In a major logistical effort, 46 Kosovan children started school this week at Glasgow's two bilingual units at Woodside Secondary and Dowanhill primary. They were assessed informally at their homes in the Balornock and Sighthill areas of the city last week.
Les McLean, Glasgow's racial equality officer, said a summer school at Dowanhill planned for children with English as a second language would now be extended for the entire six-week period, not only to help children learn English but "to stop them getting bored". A customised cultural and leisure programme is also on the drawing board.
Glasgow's education department had only six days' notice that 200 refugees were arriving, but had known for three weeks that some were likely to come. It expected a plane load, but got two. "The health of the children appears to be less good than those who flew earlier to Leeds," Mr McLean says. "There are quite a number with hospital appointments."
The number of Kosovans starting school has fallen from 65, because some have gone to live with relatives in London. Starting dates were brought forward a week when parents filled in questionnaires on arrival, pleading for schooling as a priority.
The children are expected to spend up to two terms at the bilingual units, where they are in small classes with Libyans, Kurds, Pakistanis, Turks, Iranians, Chileans and Chinese children, several of them refugees who can help support the newcomers.
They will follow a mainstream curriculum as soon as possible and be moved into local schools in Balornock and Sighthill, with peripatetic support, when they become proficient in English.
My new life, page 19