Ensuring children are welcomed into their new school and understand the education system is central to their wellbeing. Working with schools, teachers and pupils to help them understand the challenges their new classmates face will also foster a good environment in which children feel safe and supported.

Some issues to consider when welcoming refugee children and families

  • Ensure parents understand their important role in their child’s education.
  • Ensure parent(s) and child(ren) are provided with a clear induction to the school and given the opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
  • Ensure the class teacher is briefed and prepared for receiving refugee children in their class.
  • Assign a buddy for the new child to show them where things are in the school.

Practical issues

  • Think about how the child traveling to school. Ensure there is some liaison with parent(s) and support worker where appropriate to clarify this.
  • Schools may need to assist with school uniforms and school meals until parents are in employment or in receipt of mainstream benefits.
  • Ensure pastoral care structures are in place to help support any child who might be having difficulties and that affected children are aware of how to ask for help whilst at school.

Assessment and learning

  • Assessment of English and prior learning is important to establish the support needs of individuals at all levels of education. Such assessments should be conducted by appropriately qualified English as an Additional Language (EAL) member of staff and should be reviewed on a regular basis..
  • Educators should think about how to use those subject areas which rely less on English, such as Maths, art and drama.
  • Be aware that the refugee children need plenty of time and space to settle onto their new environment.


A range of information and good practice documents were developed as part of the National Refugee Integration Forum work. Whilst the education system has changed since the forums’ work ceased, the information related to Early Years, Primary, Secondary and 16-19 education provides a useful starting point for areas with limited experience with refugee children. NRIF education.

The Schools of Sanctuary site provides a range of resources, links to films and lesson plans for teachers use.

Refugee children tell their story. This useful resource can help teachers understand something of what children may have been through and what it was like starting school.