Five ways to welcome refugee pupils to your school

Scotland’s biggest teaching union, the EIS, is preparing advice for schools on how to welcome refugees and migrants.

This month’s report on the country’s Curriculum for Excellence, by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said that Scottish schools already served migrants relatively well: only 16 per cent of migrant students were “low-performing”, compared with an OECD average of 36 per cent.

But EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “We cannot assume that settling into a new country and a new school will always be easy for young people who have already faced a great deal of hardship and trauma in their lives.”

The union’s advice on steps to welcome pupils from refugee families includes the following:

  1. Inform all staff of the new arrivals and, if possible, learn words of greeting in their first language.
  2. If English is not their first language, ensure that an EAL (English as an additional language) induction is organised for the pupil.
  3. Award a “welcome to our school” certificate, in both English and the pupil’s first language.
  4. Try to place new arrivals beside peers who speak the same first language.
  5. Be aware of any signs that a pupil may be distressed, and seek help if necessary.

The EIS advice will be sent to all Scottish schools, colleges and universities in the new year.

Half of Scotland’s 32 local authorities are reported to have taken some 300 Syrian refugees in total since the first of these arrivals came to Glasgow in November.

One of the most high-profile cases is on the Isle of Bute, which has a population of about 6,500 and has welcomed 15 families, with about 20 children starting school in the new year.

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