IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE students establish Refugee Welcome Schools

19 July 2017

Refugees welcome schools

Students on the Education Studies' placement module at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) have helped three London schools become official Refugee Welcome Schools.

Working with community organising group Citizens UK and NASUWT (the Teachers' Union), the accreditation scheme recognises schools that have made a commitment to welcome refugees in their institution and community. Over the next year, the scheme will educate pupils and staff about the importance of refugee protection. Those involved will participate in campaigns to improve the lives of refugees in the UK.

Stuart Tannock, Programme Leader for the BA Education Studies at the IOE said:

"Many of our students are passionate about social justice organising and education. Participating in the Refugee Welcome Schools project is an opportunity for them to experience what social justice campaigns in the education sector can accomplish. They'll learn firsthand about some of the excellent work that is already being done by local schools in supporting refugee children and their families. They will also contribute their own ideas and energies in assisting schools that are developing new refugee education and organising projects in the coming year."

"Many of our students have said that they have been deeply moved by their placement work and are currently hoping to take up work and volunteering activities as a result."

Three of the four schools that the IOE students are working with are now fully accredited: Newman College in Brent, Leyton Sixth Form College in Waltham Forest and St Gabriel's in Camberwell.

Each Refugee Welcome School application is scrutinised by a Refugee Welcome Schools Panel, made up of teachers, educationalists, trades unionists, children and refugees themselves.

Refugees welcome poster

Olivia, a pupil from Saint Gabriel's College, said:

"We felt that the refugee crisis was very important to us so we wanted to take action that would make a difference. We thought about what a young refugee would need if they came to our school, so that we could set an example for how refugees should be treated."

Second year student Rosie Gillham was a group leader for her placement team at St Gabriel's. Speaking of her experience, she said:

"It was incredible to see the level of engagement from the students at St Gabriel's; not only did they care about the experience of refugees, but they clearly wanted to be active in making a difference to that experience. I think this passion really energised my team and meant that we all learnt a lot in such a short space of time. The placement taught me a lot about myself and where I want to go next."

Hiba Alwadi, a third year student who also took the module, is a Palestinian who speaks and teaches Arabic. Speaking of her placement at Newman College, she said:

"I was deeply moved by seeing how the school is committed to welcome the refugees and help them in many different ways, by giving them opportunities like anyone else. During the placement, I visited the school's EAL (English as an additional language) department that includes 300 refugees from many different countries. One of the difficulties the school was facing was the lack of Arabic-speaking staff. I felt that my heart remained in that school, and that with my Arabic language, previous experience and courage I might help the school. Following a successful interview, I will be working permanently in the EAL department from September as an Arabic-speaking teaching assistant.

"This module did not only increase our knowledge; it taught us so many things we never knew or experienced before. This module made us all engaged towards helping social justice in education."

Find out more

Teachers interested in finding out more should contact Monica Bribacombe: monica.brimacombe@citizensuk.org. Accredited Refugee Welcome Schools will be encouraged to display their accreditation certificate prominently and will gain access to the Refugee Welcome Schools Network and additional resources.

Media contact

James Russell
Tel: 020 3108 8516
Email: james.russell@ucl.ac.uk