Opening Our Arms

 

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477

As the first plane of Syrian refugee’s touches down in The United Kingdom today, I feel it is important to reflect on how positive it is that our country has opened its arms to these people in their time of need. Britain has agreed to take in around 20,000 refugees over the next five years, which I feel is fantastic. It is amazing when countries step in to help at times like this, and even more amazing that this time it is us.

As most of the refugees coming over are families and are due to resettle in various local authorities across Scotland, I feel it is appropriate to reflect on what this means for us as teachers. These refugees will be in need of specialist medical care and specialist support to help them through any issues derived from the violence and torture they have experienced. There are already places within schools set aside for them.

A lot of these children would have been forced to quit school if they were even lucky enough to be there in the first place. We will have to be aware as teachers, that these pupils are likely to be learning English as their second language. This will face us with certain challenges. We will have the additional factor that their understanding on the English language may not be as developed as the rest of their classmates, as well as the fact that they will be at a disadvantage socially due to the language barriers.

self-esteem-and-mathThese children will also have experienced loss all around of them, and lost connection with a lot of their friends and family. This will have had a very negative effect on their self-esteem and confidence. As teachers, we have the responsibility to recognise this and put into effect support strategies to support these children in this difficult time.

A way in which we can do this is “buddy” systems. This will help them get to know their peers, and ensure they are not lonely at times such as breaks and lunch. Children may feel secluded as their parents may not want to bring them along to after school activities when it is dark – so it is essential they are given a good opportunity to socialise during these breaks within the school day.

In countries such as Syria, schools are often targeted by terrorist activity. We need to make sure these children coming into our UK schools know that they are now in a safe environment.

It’s heart-breaking to think about what they’ve been through, but there is the chance that their past experiences may have an effect on their behaviour. Children may be distant, and refuse or even become frightened around strangers, so a close eye will have to be on them in the early days to ensure they are settling in and coming well. Struggles may also be apparent when they are placed within large groups, they may need one-to-one support before they can build up the confidence to take part in whole class activities.

ok_to_move_forwardWe should never ask children to re-live these traumatic experiences, ever. No matter whether it is a written exercise, homework exercise, or ANYTHING. We should also make sure they are never questioned by any other staff or child as to why they are here. They deserve to be in school getting educated as much as everyone else.

Most importantly of all, we need to provide a school experience for these children that is positive and welcoming. These children have a lot to offer and have been through so, so much to get here.

8 thoughts on “Opening Our Arms

  1. Rachel Billes

    Hi Lauren, I really enjoyed reading this blog post and like how you’ve included pictures to break up the text. It’s great that you have taken a current issue and related it to teaching, and what we need to do, because some of this will soon become very real for us as practitioners. I totally agree that we should treat these children equally and help them to feel a part of our schools and communities.

    Reply
    1. Lauren DuncanLauren Duncan Post author

      Thank you, Rachel! I was worried I was using too many pictures, but when they are relevant to the text adjacent to them I think it really helps to follow the post more! I’m starting to see more and more things that we will come across as teachers; there really is much more to teaching than just the actual teaching part!

      Reply
  2. Katie Rebecca WhithamKatie Rebecca Whitham

    Lauren, this is a fantastic post! I hadn’t thought about the children that were coming across as refugees and what an impact they would have in schools across Britain. It will be hard for them and I like your buddy system idea – the nursery I worked in had one similar. Your pictures are really good as well, very relevant. A great way to put current issues and teaching together in a post, making your blog relevant!

    Reply
    1. Lauren DuncanLauren Duncan Post author

      Thank you so much, Katie! The thought of these poor children coming into our schools and adapting to a completely new way of life has been lingering on my mind for a while. I feel that it is so, so important we make it as positive as an experience as we can for them!

      Reply
  3. Carrie McLennan

    I agree, Lauren and this that your post demonstrates the holistic view we need you, as the next generation of teacher, to adopt.
    Great feedback from your peers!

    Reply
    1. Lauren DuncanLauren Duncan Post author

      Thank you, Carrie. Yes, we certainly do need to adopt this view!
      I love reading all the feedback I get. It’s lovely to know people are taking the time to read and comment on my posts. Thank you again for your comment 🙂

      Reply
  4. Derek Roberston

    Thoughtful post Lauren. This year we have talked about children learning and I do think we have not be particularly Eurocentric about that. It is great to see you reflecting on the experience of children in parts of the world where things are difficult for them. This caring attitude is one that will still be a t play in your own setting when you are working with and supporting children who are facing difficulties, although maybe not in circumstances that may be seen in Syria and other places today, in their own lives.

    Reply
    1. Lauren DuncanLauren Duncan Post author

      Thank you, Derek! Yes, it’s so interesting seeing how differently schools are in other parts of the world. Not every child learns in the same environment as pupils here do. Hopefully, I’m able to strengthen my caring attitude, and I hope to use it to my strengths when on placement.
      Thank you again for your comment 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *