Promising Practices to Support Refugee Education: Refugee Education UK Research Report

Apr 29, 2024

Access to education is every child’s right. For refugee background children, education is vital.

InSPPiRE, led by Refugee Education UK (REUK), is a learning project that dissects 29 case studies related to language learning, adaptive enrollment processes, psychosocial support, trauma-informed education, and inclusive practices sourced from an open call to pinpoint what’s needed within educational systems to best support refugee students. This research addresses a critical gap in high income countries, where approximately 22% of the word’s refugees are hosted.

InSPPiRE’s case studies inform 4 primary thematic areas that encompass the needs of refugee students:

  • Access to education in the national education system

Fostering access to education for refugee children within the national system of the host country is essential. The case studies underscore the power of enhancing language learning of both in the host and home languages for new arrivals, streamlining assessment and enrollment for swift access to mainstream education, and offering specialized interim solutions to overcome delays.

A school in London, one of the 29 case studies in this report, implemented an Arabic GCSE option as a method of supporting refugee background students. This school found that offering Arabic enabled students to enhance existing language skills, gain valuable qualifications, and boost self-confidence.

  • Psychosocial wellbeing and inclusive practices

Findings from the case studies emphasize that education systems must proactively address psychosocial wellbeing and champion inclusivity and a welcoming environment. These factors are pivotal in shaping the quality of education refugee children receive. The report emphasizes the need for psychosocial support for new arrivals within and around educational systems, investing in a trauma-informed education workforce, and ensuring a culture of welcome and representation.

Another case study highlighted in the report, a program in Scotland, demonstrated that providing Arabic language representation in school fostered a more welcoming and inclusive environment for students and parents alike. The report highlights the positive impact of language representation on students’ mental health as students expressed their joy upon hearing their mother tongue spoken in a school environment.

  • Educator training and support

Case studies affirmed the vital role of training and support for teachers instructing refugee students, pinpointing key promising practices: delivering targeted training and support to teachers and schools and acknowledging ‘hubs of excellence’ to amplify successful practices and furnish essential training and support.

  • Partnerships for sustainable outcomes

Uplifting the standard of education for refugee students demands a collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach, with partnerships serving as catalysts for impactful and high-quality initiatives. Promising practices include expanding scale and enhancing sustainability through collaborative partnerships, integrating expertise and leadership based on lived experiences, and transforming education settings as dynamic hubs of robust community support.

Unlocking success for refugee students in high-income countries relies on practitioners recognizing these essential factors for success and acting upon them to ensure that refugee background students have access to high-quality, inclusive, and transformative education.

Learn more about this project and the impactful initiatives supporting refugee education here.