Supporting Refugee Children Arriving in Your School

Recent images and stories of the Syrian refugee crisis have generated a huge amount of sympathy and concern; families already in distress, have experienced further risks and barriers in their attempts to escape danger. Of course, Britain has already welcomed families from other war-torn countries to its shores and the Government continues to work with local authorities to house and support them. Whilst the Prime Minister announcement that 20,000 Syrian refugees will be resettled in the UK over the next five years in understandably welcomed, we know that all refugees and asylum seekers aged 5-16 will be entitled to receive full time education. So, how can schools prepare to welcome even more of these vulnerable children? CPA is working nationally with schools to help them plan in advance of the admission of any refugee students. The aim is to gather information on what works already (if refugees have already been accepted), help anticipate and problem solve any potential issues if schools were to admit refugees in the future, and to share good practice with other schools by means of a useful tool kit.  Dr Joanna Mitchell, Area Principal Psychologist, is leading on this research and development project and is working with schools across the country to address their current ‘on the ground’ issues and apply psychological knowledge to this delicate situation. Mr David Burton, Head teacher at St John Thursby Community College Burnley, has been working with Dr Mitchell to reflect on the potential issues of social inclusion of refugee students from a school perspective. With a  school community of predominantly Muslim students, and experience in integrating students with English as an additional language, Mr Burton feels the school is well placed to reflect on how effective inclusion of this vulnerable group might work. Together, and combining individual expertise, CPA and St John Thursby College have started to devise a pathway outlining the crucial steps that might be taken (at both a community and school level) in order for inclusion to be successful. This work will form an integral part of the production of an ‘inclusion toolkit’ for refugee students which CPA are developing.   To read Dr Mitchell’s full article please click here Should you require any advice in this area, or feel able to participate in the research and development project, please contact us on

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