Home from Home

March 16, 2004 — Review

Written by Arun Kundnani

Save the Children and Salusbury WORLD, a refugee children’s project based in Brent, London, have produced this guidance and resource pack for the welcome and inclusion of asylum-seeker and refugee children and families in schools.

Around 4.5 per cent of school children in Greater London come from a refugee or asylum-seeker background. The policy of dispersing asylum seekers means that there are also many asylum-seeker and refugee children who are now attending schools across the UK.

These children may have experienced trauma, upheaval and separation. They also face the challenge of making a new home in a strange country. For many refugee families there will be uncertainty about their future in the UK. Schools inevitably play a vital role in assisting the recovery and supporting the well-being of refugee children.

In recent years, a number of schools in London have developed much good practice on how best to support these children. Home from Home is a resource pack for schools which builds on this work and aims to provide practical guidance to those working with this vulnerable group.

“Arriving in a strange country can be daunting for any child. Refugee children have been through so much already, so it’s vital that we look after them in the best way we can. This pack will be a great help.” – Zadie Smith, author

It aims to provide schools with information about practical ways to support refugee children and families without requiring a dramatic increase in staffing and resoruces. Produced in an easy-to-use ring-bound book, the resource pack emphasises practical strategies to welcome and include refugee children and families, develop play opportunities, involve refugee parents and provide advice.

It also gives guidance on how schools can support refugee families more generally, by encouraging them to be involved in the life of the school and directing them to local sources of help and advice. The pack implies that it is not possible for schools to isolate themselves from the wider context of problems that refugees may have to deal with, such as immigration, housing, health, etc.

Each chapter of Home from Home includes photocopiable resources, activity sheets and other kinds of guidance – such as advice on the use of interpreters, clarification of legal terminology and a table of languages and countries of origin. The main text is punctuated with photographs and quotes from refugees themselves which bring the issues to life. The pack also contains a wealth of suggestions for further reading, and of local and national organisations and websites.

Home from Home will be of use to school staff and other professionals working to support the education and well-being of refugee children. It will be of particular interest to teachers, teaching assistants, learning mentors, home-school liaison workers, learning support staff and school nurses. Project workers in Sure Start, Children’s Fund and Connexions will also find much that is valuable.

The strategies and activities described in Home from Home have been developed in a primary and early years setting but the information, guidance and resources will also be of use to staff in secondary schools.

Home from Home is edited by Bill Bolloten, a leading consultant on refugee education, and draws on the experience of Salusbury WORLD, a project based in Brent, London, which set up the first refugee centre within a primary school.

Related links

Save the Children page on Home from Home

Salusbury WORLD – the first refugee centre to be set up within a primary school

Bill Bolloten and Tim Spafford – refugee education and training consultants

Home from Home, 156 pages, ISBN 1 84187 0838, £18.95. Order from www.plymbridge.com.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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