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Centre for Education for Racial Equlity in Scotland
Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Scottish Schools
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Click to e-form us! This special newsletter has been prompted by concerns that the refugee children who attend Scottish schools might become the target of bullying or racism. How shameful it would be if children were to escape the terrors of civil war or oppression only to find fear in Scottish playgrounds and classrooms! Click to read the 'letter from a refugee' on the BBC website.
Introduction
Below we outline the work done in some schools to prepare for the arrival of refugee children; to support their integration into the normal work of the schools; and the strategies used to tackle any bullying and racist incidents.

Research suggests that the majority of refugee children do indeed experience some racist name-calling at school or in the community:

"This boy… said to me, ‘Why don’t you go back to your own country, and that really hurt me"
(Spotlight 74, SCRE 1999)

However, despite the recent well-publicised attacks against adults, we have found no evidence of widespread, violent bullying of refugee children in the schools we have visited. This might be because good preparation, involving all members of school communities, has meant that the challenge of integrating children from different cultures has been an enriching, rather than a disrupting, experience. Or it could be that teachers and pupils are anxious to play down any problems.

Recent attention has been focused on the plight of refugees in a few areas of Glasgow (Glasgow City Council has developed an extensive support network - see back page). But any school in Scotland could be faced at any time with the challenge of integrating one or more children who have arrived from a distant land - possibly traumatised by their experiences, probably with little or no English and potentially vulnerable to racism and bullying. This challenge will be most easily met by those schools that already have well developed anti-bullying and anti-racist policies.

Wherever they have come from, whatever their religion, ethnicity or language, all children have a right to be educated in an atmosphere free from fear and intimidation.

Andrew Mellor - Manager, Anti-Bullying Network
Rowena Arshad - Director, Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland

NB - We have used the word "refugee" to cover all those who have come to Scotland to escape problems in their own countries, whatever their legal status.

 
Scottish Executive Education Department
 
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