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Division of Educational and Child Psychology publishes new guidance for welcoming and supporting refugee children in schools

18 November 2021

The new guidance aims to support schools to welcome and settle refugee children to help them feel safe and contained, make progress and begin to thrive.

Its publication comes as increasing numbers of refugees and people seeking asylum come to the UK, most recently from Afghanistan as part of a resettlement programme following the deterioration of the political situation and civil unrest in their country.

The guidance encourages schools to prepare as much as possible, by sharing best practice in local authorities and being aware that all children will respond and react differently.

It recommends trialling a buddy system, promoting parental involvement in their child’s education through interpreters if necessary and adapting the curriculum where appropriate. A flexible curriculum with time for extracurricular activities could unlock refugee children and young people’s sense of competence and belonging.

Play is an important tool to use as it can help develop skills including language, cognition, problem-solving for children and young people of all ages. It can also provide a way for children to build friendships

Dr Wajma Torkmani, one of the authors of the document and a member of the DECP, said:

“Many schools will have had previous experience of supporting refugee children, and it is important to remember that before anything else, new arrivals are children, navigating the same developmental trajectories as of their peers. The primary goals for schools in meeting the needs of refugee children will be the same as for all children.

“These goals include making refugee children feel welcome, promoting the development of friendships and emotional connections, providing support, and ascertaining suitable learning and language interventions. However, it is important to bear in mind that refugee children will be navigating childhood and adolescence, with the added pressures of accommodating a new culture, language, loss, and potential trauma.”

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