Involving Refugee Parents in School Life
Involving refugee parents in school life
The involvement of refugee parents in school life is an effective means of ensuring the educational success of pupils and improving their well-being. However there are many reasons why refugee parents may be involved less than other parents. There are also many approaches that can help to build bridges.
Involving Refugee Parents: Introduction
The OFSTED report "The education of asylum-seeker pupils" (2003) noted the importance of the involvement of refugee parents in their children's education, saying that the "combination of their determination to succeed and the strong support of their parents provided a potent recipe for success."
However there are many reasons why refugee parents might be less involved than other groups of parents. They may:
- be unable to communicate in English
- be unfamiliar with how children are taught in the English educational system
- be unaware of how to support their children's learning
- come from a culture where there is no tradition or expectation of parental involvement
- be feeling stressed because of dislocation and the pressure of applying for asylum
- be experiencing poverty
- not have access to materials and resources at home
- live in poor-quality and overcrowded accommodation
- have frequent changes of home and school when living in temporary or emergency accommodation.
Schools that have developed strong links with refugee families are those with a welcoming ethos that:
- makes all parents feel that they are wanted and that they have a positive role to play
- shows parents that they can always make their feelings and opinions known to staff, and that these will be dealt with respectfully and seriously
- demonstrates that parents/carers' linguistic, cultural and religious backgrounds are valued and respected
- demonstrates that bilingualism and biliteracy are valued by the school as important means to academic achievement
- shows that the school is part of the community it serves, e.g. via contacts with complementary schools, celebration of a range of cultural and religious festivals etc.
Adapted from "Home from Home: a guidance and resource pack for the welcome and inclusion of refugee children and families in school". (Save the Children)
Aiming High: Guidance on Supporting the Education of Asylum Seeking and Refugee Children DFES April 2004