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Asylum seeker and refugee pupils

The EAL Service supports a number of refugee and asylum-seeking children in Solihull schools. The following definitions may be helpful:

An asylum seeker is a person who has fled their home country in search of safety and who has applied for political asylum in another country. The children may be with their families or, if a UASC, they are an asylum seeker in their own right.

A refugee is a person whose asylum claim has been accepted and has been granted refugee status in the UK. Refugees have usually fled their home country and are unable to return there owing to a well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, sexuality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

A migrant is someone who has chosen to leave their home country through choice. They may have been motivated by economic or other factors and are less likely to have experienced trauma.

In Solihull we have three main groups of asylum seekers/refugees:

  • Refugee families
    These are families who have come here together from a variety of locations to escape from persecution/war etc. Recent examples include Syria and Yemen.
  • Refugee families who have come here via the Syrian Resettlement Programme
    They are supported by the Home Office and come with financial aid and support from local agencies.
  • UASC
    Unaccompanied minors who have come here alone. Most have made dangerous journeys across Europe, spent time in the jungle and are suffering from trauma. They are supported by the local authority and receive pupil premium as looked after children.

Refugees are diverse

  • Diversity of languages, cultures, and countries of origin
  • Different experiences in their countries of origin and different migration journeys
  • Varied experiences in the UK
  • Like adults, they will vary in how they cope with adversity
  • Many children are highly resourceful and resilient despite their experiences
  • Important to avoid stereotypes and generalisations
  • Educational and welfare responses need to be flexible and not “one size fits all”.

Refugee pupils also often have some things in common:

  • Many are very well-motivated and have a strong desire to succeed.
  • For many, school is a safe place, a place of sanctuary.
  • Developing relationships and friendships is extra important because they have been displaced from everything they know.
  • Most are economically disadvantaged. Many have left a good quality of life behind and may find it hard to adapt to their new financial circumstances.
  • Many will encounter prejudice.

More information on the topics below: