Want to improve achievement? Invite in refugees, top international academics say

Refugee children raise their host country’s educational achievement, and should therefore be welcomed into Britain, leading education academics have said.

Professor Andy Hargreaves, of Boston College in the US, who has written or edited more than 30 books and advises the premier of Ontario on education, praised Canada for opening its doors to 25,000 Syrian refugees.

“Refugees are our asset,” he said. “Refugees have high aspirations for their children. Refugees actually raise achievement in this country and other countries.”

This summer, a large number of unaccompanied asylum-seeker children arrived on the south coast of England, and were subsequently accommodated into local schools. At the start of the school year, Kent local authority reported 772 unaccompanied asylum seekers under the age of 18.

Professor Hargreaves’ comments were backed up by Professor John Hattie, director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute. Professor Hattie pointed out that immigrants in Australia regularly outperform locals, both academically and in the workplace.

“Can you imagine taking your kids and leaving home, and walking hundreds of miles with them?” he said. “Aren’t those the attributes we want? We should be inviting them in.

“Many of them want to do better. If they bring kids, most of the time they want their kids to have a good education. If you don’t want refugees, have a lousy education system.”

Professors Hargreaves and Hattie were speaking at a conference in London this week, organised by teacher-training and professional-development provider Osiris Educational.

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