Education and support for refugees and asylum seekers
Wales welcomes refugees and asylum-seekers1The definition of an asylum seeker is someone who has arrived in a country and asked for asylum. Until they receive a decision as to whether or not they are a refugee, they are known as an asylum seeker. In the UK, this means that they do not have the same rights as a refugee or a British citizen would. For example, people seeking asylum aren’t allowed to work.’ (Refugee Action, 2023) from all over the world and aims to become the world’s first recognised ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ where people seeking sanctuary ‘are met with welcome, understanding and celebration of their unique contribution to the rich tapestry of Welsh life’ (Wales: Nation of Sanctuary, 2023). Since 2020, the number of asylum applications logged in the UK has notably increased (UK Government, 2023). In 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that around 40% of global refugees were under the age of 18 (UNHCR, 2022, p.3). Research by the Welsh Government highlighted that the challenges faced by refugee learners were often exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic (Welsh Government, 2023, p.4).
In 2020, as part of its report on education transitions for young refugees and asylum seekers, UNICEF included a series of helpful recommendations for schools and further education (FE) colleges in England. The report highlighted that the impartial advice and guidance made available to learners transitioning from schools into FE was insufficient (UNICEF, 2020, p.10). A separate review of research on the educational needs and experiences of asylum-seeking and refugee children by Peterson et al (2017) found the following:
- Education and schooling plays a crucial role in supporting the inclusion of asylum-seeking and refugee children within their new communities;
- Schools, school leaders and teachers therefore need to take seriously their role in responding to the educational needs of asylum-seeking and refugee children – including those who are unaccompanied;
- Whole-school approaches built on hospitable and holistic responses to asylum-seeking and refugee children are productive, and can challenge wider discourses and practices which are hostile to asylum-seeking and refugee people and children;
- Schools and teachers are likely to need and benefit from professional learning and development activities through which they can build and enhance their understanding of the educational and cultural histories, needs and experiences of asylum-seeking and refugee children;
- Asylum-seeking and refugee children require, and stand to gain substantially from, more focused support for their educational pathways into further and higher education in ways which engage with their high aspirations. Such support is likely to include focused guidance and counselling, as well as the availability of supportive role-models (p.5).
Local authorities in Wales play an important part in supporting schools before the arrival of asylum-seeker and refugee pupils, as well as during their time in school. Specialist local authority teams work with refugee families to achieve a smooth transition into school and to monitor progress. In most cases, initial contact and support by the local authority is provided to new arrivals within a week. Children and young people are subsequently enrolled at school or college, usually within two weeks.
Older refugees and asylum-seekers also have access to a range of education and training at further education (FE) colleges or through adult learning in the community partnerships. Adult refugees and asylum seekers have a very broad range of prior education experiences. They range from those with little schooling and low levels of literacy, to those who have postgraduate qualifications but may need to develop their English language skills to secure employment.
To learn about the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers and the ways in which they have been supported, during the summer of 2023, we met with six local authorities and visited 13 schools, three colleges and two adult learning in the community partnerships. These providers were chosen because of their work to support refugees and asylum seekers and, as such, this sample of providers was not representative of all providers across Wales as a whole.
Teaching and learning
Schools and local authorities
In most cases, refugee and asylum seeker pupils were motivated and enjoyed learning. They spoke positively about their progress, and how their confidence had developed as a result of their learning.
Many refugee and asylum seeker children had suffered significant breaks in their schooling before arriving in Wales and had limited or no English language skills. Local authority and school staff were committed to supporting pupils to learn English as a second language and provided learning materials to support parents and carers at home. As a result, pupils often acquired the language quickly and were able to express themselves clearly. In many cases, these children learned English ahead of their parents or guardians and acted as translators for them when needed. As well as developing quickly into articulate English speakers, overall, primary age pupils also made suitable progress in their ability to communicate in Welsh. They were eager to learn Welsh, and a few had developed rapidly to reach a high level of fluency.
Welsh language immersion for refugees at Ysgol Gynradd Llanfairpwll and Ysgol Y Borth, Ynys Môn
Refugees and asylum seekers who arrive at the schools are given an initial period to settle into their new environment and develop their confidence. Staff at the schools provide a warm welcome and celebrate these pupils’ native languages and their home cultures.
The pupils then attend Canolfan Newydd-ddyfodiaid Môn Welsh language immersion unit at Moelfre. Following this period, the pupils return to their schools and a teacher from the language unit visits them regularly to continue to support their Welsh language learning. This provides continuity for the pupils as well as helping the schools to cater for the pupils’ individual needs. This provision is very effective and builds well on the initial language immersion work. The pupils’ English language skills are developed through integrated activities at school.
As a result, the refugee pupils currently at both schools have made strong progress with their language skills. These pupils, who arrived with no Welsh and limited English language ability, can now confidently speak both languages with a good level of fluency.
Local authorities worked well with schools to overcome the challenge of having limited or inaccurate background information about new arrivals. They talked to the pupils’ families and carefully assessed pupils’ abilities. They aimed to build progressively on pupils’ skills as they moved through the school via the discrete teaching of language, literacy and numeracy in a way that met their individual needs. In general, taking age and stage of development into consideration, these pupils made strong progress in developing their oracy skills, their phonological awareness, and their reading and writing skills.
Specialist local authority teams worked closely with schools to help them support refugees and asylum seekers. They provided advice and support to teachers, as well as home-school liaison and additional language tuition to individual or small groups of pupils. Often bilingual or multi-lingual, these specialists were strong language role models and supported individual pupils’ learning and well-being effectively.
The role of Llanwern High School, Newport as a Ukrainian Hub School
Newport City Council has designated Llanwern High School and Milton Primary School as Ukrainian Hub Schools. This approach facilitates the support of new arrivals from Ukraine by established Ukrainian families as well as dedicated support staff.
At Llanwern High School, a bilingual teaching assistant works with each refugee learner to identify their interests and the subjects that they studied and enjoyed in the past. They encourage them to pursue these further, for example by engaging in relevant extra-curricular activities. Assessments are used to establish pupils’ prior learning in terms of their knowledge, skills and goals, including their language ability. Pupils are provided with individual learning strategies and are partnered with buddies who support them in their first week at their new school.
The bilingual teaching assistant also establishes strong links with parents and plays a key role in each admission meeting. They support the integration of each pupil into their new school by liaising closely with the headteacher, head of year and form teacher to help establish positive, supportive relationships. They work with parents to ensure that they understand how children go about acquiring a new language and that they understand the differences between the Welsh education system and the one in Ukraine.
In many schools, teachers used a range of effective teaching approaches and dedicated resources to ensure that pupils made the progress of which they were capable. Local authorities had developed their own teaching resources and identified others available online, to support asylum seekers and refugees. Teachers planned carefully to ensure that literacy activities were accessible, relevant and purposeful. They modified their language and used gesture and sign effectively to communicate with children who had little or no English. Effective use was also made of technology, such as translation apps, to support communication. As a result, pupils gained confidence and further developed their learning as their English improved.
Using literature to support refugee and asylum seeker integration at Severn Primary School, Cardiff
The school ensures that refugee and asylum seeker pupils are represented in school resources.
They provide a range of books that pupils can relate to and see themselves in, or books that are written in their home language. These books are used as stimuli for learning experiences and provide opportunities for pupils to explore powerful themes relevant to their lives. For example, they consider the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in text such as ‘The Island’ and ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’. Pupils recall topics such as the story of Floella Benjamin and the Windrush Generation. They respond well to these topics because the stories reflect their own experiences.
Sharing such stories with other pupils helps to nurture tolerance and respect.
During their time in Wales, refugee and asylum seeker pupils in Year 10 and Year 11 were being encouraged to undertake language qualifications in their first language, such as GCSE Ukrainian or GCSE Russian. However, many of these pupils, together with those undertaking AS and A levels, were disadvantaged when sitting their examinations for other subjects in English or Welsh. This was particularly true if they were relatively recent arrivals in Wales and had not had much time to learn either English or Welsh. In these cases, pupils struggled to understand, use and apply complex language and subject terminology in their assessed work. At the time of our visits, school leaders reported that they were awaiting further guidance about any concessions and support that could be made available to these learners. In a few instances, schools were able to make arrangements for pupils to sit different subject examinations in their first language by working with awarding organisations overseas.
FE colleges and adult learning in the community partnerships
Most adult refugees and asylum seekers were focused on developing their English language skills. These, often vulnerable, learners valued the social aspect of coming together as well as the education on offer within the welcoming environments of FE colleges and adult learning in the community partnerships. Teachers praised, encouraged and promoted respect among their diverse groups of learners. Teachers recognised the barriers and challenges that these learners faced and worked flexibly to accommodate the demands placed on them, such as childcare responsibilities and appointments with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In a few instances, particularly if learners were awaiting relocation, they had to bring their children along to lessons, which could be distracting for them and others.
Post-16 and adult learning teachers generally employed a range of strategies and resources effectively to ensure that learning activities were interesting and topical. Learners had opportunities to bring real-life experiences and language into lessons; they asked probing questions, checked their understanding, and actively contributed ideas. Refugees and asylum seekers valued learning about Welsh and British culture alongside being able to bring their own cultures and experiences into their learning.
Learners generally developed a positive rapport with teachers, support staff and leaders. They spoke positively about their progress, and how their confidence had developed. This was enabling them to apply for jobs and gain employment; identify volunteering opportunities; organise medical appointments; understand English language television programmes; and integrate more into their local communities.
Supporting refugees to drive safely on UK roads – Adult Learning Wales (ALW)
In response to learner need and the desire to secure employment, ALW has worked in partnership with third sector organisations and local authorities to develop a programme of support for those wanting to pass their UK Driving Theory test. The course covers elements such as road sign recognition, breaking distances, and road and car safety. Where appropriate, tutors also support with the provisional licence application process. These helpful online courses have enabled the provider to cater in this way to refugees and asylum seekers across Wales.
Some providers acknowledged that there remained gaps in provision for this age group with only a minority of providers offering courses specifically designed for learners who wanted to access vocational learning but who also needed to develop their English language skills.
Recognising the qualifications that refugees and asylum seekers had achieved in their home countries was a challenge for providers. The need to ascertain qualification equivalences caused delays for learners wanting to start programmes or progress onto further or higher learning.
Well-being, care and support
Schools and local authorities
Schools and local authorities aimed to place the well-being of every child at the heart of their work. They focused on providing safe and nurturing environments where vulnerable pupils could feel secure. Refugee children often arrived having suffered trauma and living with fear or anxiety. Local authorities played a key part in providing training and advice for school staff on a range of aspects including different cultural values as well as the impact of trauma.
Local authorities supported refugees and asylum seekers with practical arrangements for accommodation, school uniforms and transport. This helped families to settle quickly and establish a sense of normality. Local authorities supported schools by providing specific training and resources to help school staff members to support the well-being of these pupils. This enabled school staff to be flexible and effective in responding to the specific challenges involved, and they were able to get to know the pupils and their families well. School leaders and local authority specialists worked openly, positively and productively with these vulnerable families in a non-judgemental way.
Pupils and their families benefited from a diverse range of tailored interventions both within school and in conjunction with external partners. Where these multi-agency arrangements were most effective, they addressed housing, education and health needs with detailed assessments of the families’ conditions and needs prior to pupils’ arrival in school. This enabled the provision to be carefully planned in a holistic way.
Consolidated support services via ‘Teulu Môn’, Ynys Môn
Ynys Môn provide a single point of contact ‘Teulu Môn,’ for all children, families and related professionals who need additional support. They provide a range of services including information, advice and assistance. Local headteachers appreciate this single point of contact as they are able to refer refugee and asylum seeker families for a range of support services. This joined-up approach is flexible, with staff members ready to adapt provision according to what is best for the well-being of each family.
To complement the work of this service, the local authority has promoted the use of a ‘traumainformed’ approach across all schools. The associated training has provided schools with a firm foundation upon which to build relationships with vulnerable children and their families.
Refugee parents and children who initially felt anxious or afraid on arrival explained that they had been helped to feel safe and welcome. Local authorities and schools used innovative and sensitive approaches to support these families. Parents were invited to friendly induction meetings or coffee mornings where they learnt about how the school day was organised and what the expectations were, and they were also helped to complete any necessary paperwork. These events helped parents to form social and support networks with each other and within the school community.
Summer activities for Ukrainian refugee children by Gwent Adult Learning in the Community Partnership
Monmouthshire Community Education service works in partnership with the leisure and tourism department to deliver a summer programme for children residing at a welcome centre for Ukrainian refugees. The service, provided by the partnership’s ‘English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)’ team, enables the children to benefit from language skills development opportunities via informal arts and craft sessions. This not only supports language development, but also helps new arrivals to form friendships and learn about cultural norms in preparation for the new school year.
Wider family support at Maindee Primary School, Newport
The school has an open-door policy to provide accessible support to families and the community. Their after-school club ‘Wicked Wednesday’ brings local families and outside support agencies together within the welcoming school environment. This extremely popular club is open to the families of both current and former pupils; it regularly attracts around 90 participants. In addition, the school works alongside different organisations to provide families with access to household appliances, computers and internet connections.
School leaders are keen to develop the skills of the local adult refugee, asylum seeker and immigrant community. The local authority has been able to help with this by providing a teaching assistant course for parents. This has equipped several suitable parents with the knowledge and skills that they need to access employment at local schools. It also ensures continuity of support for pupils by helping to develop a diverse staff workforce to meet the different linguistic and cultural needs of refugee and asylum seeker pupils and their families.
Many schools raised awareness of the culture and experiences of refugees and asylum seekers through personal and social education (PSE) lessons. They planned valuable enrichment experiences that focused on celebrating different cultures and diversity alongside the school’s Welsh identity. As a result, pupils recognised the important role they have to play as citizens in Wales; this helped to stimulate pupils’ interest and enthusiasm for local and Welsh history. Most schools provided valuable wider experiences that their refugee and asylum seeker pupils may not otherwise have benefited from, such as visits to the cinema or swimming pool, as part of their planned curriculum. Parents and pupils appreciated the many additional activities that these schools offered.
In addition to assisting families, local authorities also welcomed unaccompanied asylum seeker children (UASC). Once such a child was identified, social workers arranged foster care and selected an appropriate school. A personal education plan was developed, which considered the views of the child, including their interests and aspirations, and a review was conducted after eight weeks of schooling. A few local authorities struggled to cater for unaccompanied children sent to them from other authorities without notice. Corporate parent authorities and private fostering companies did not always communicate well with local authority education departments.
In general, absence rates among refugee and asylum seeker pupils were a concern for schools and local authorities. A number of families lived in hotels or temporary accommodation and could be moved between different locations at short notice. In some cases, the lack of room at nearby schools meant that children had to travel to schools outside of the area where they were housed, making regular attendance more challenging. Highly effective schools placed a high priority on tracking pupils’ attendance and they operated a rigorous first day response to any absences. However, asylum seeker or refugee status was not captured via the pupil level annual school census (PLASC) and this hindered wider monitoring and evaluation work.
Overall, the refugee and asylum seeker pupils we spoke to felt that their voices were heard in school and that they could suggest ways to improve their lives and their communities. School councils were increasingly placing value on celebrating their school’s cultural diversity. Overall, refugee and asylum seeker pupils had very positive attitudes to learning and showed high levels of resilience and ambition for their futures.
Overall, schools included in this study all had a strong inclusive ethos. The Health and Well-being Area of Learning and Experience (AoLE) of the new Curriculum for Wales, as well as the relationship and sex education (RSE) aspect of the curriculum, was helping to support this. These aspects were becoming increasingly embedded into the curriculum and into wider aspects of school life. This was benefiting refugees and asylum seekers, particularly at primary schools, as the Curriculum for Wales was introduced for all primary-aged pupils in September 2022. Assemblies, pastoral activities and dedicated days and weeks were used well to celebrate diversity of language and culture.
Helping refugee and asylum seeker pupils and their families to integrate at Ysgol Gymunedol Plascrug, Ceredigion
Over the last decade, Ysgol Plascrug primary school has increasingly become a welcoming, cherished sanctuary for refugee children and their families. The school has catered for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine, alongside children from other countries, and helped them to integrate seamlessly into Welsh life.
The school’s staff includes two teaching assistants who, being fluent in Arabic, are able to help pupils from a range of countries to feel at home. In addition, the local authority employs a Ukrainian former teacher of English, herself a refugee, who works closely with children who are new to the area and need help to integrate. The work of each of these staff members is highly valued by the pupils, other staff members and the wider school community. One has learnt Welsh to a good standard and serves as a language role model for the pupils.
A notable feature of the school is the way in which families from a diverse range of cultures, including refugees and asylum seekers, contribute to the school community. Adult refugees help to maintain aspects of the school buildings and grounds. The school’s highly anticipated annual international evening sees families from all over the world offer a range of traditional home cooked foods in a celebration of multicultural integration.
The school’s nurture unit ‘PLAS’ caters well for the needs of pupils, including those who have English as an additional language. The school’s emphasis on nurture succeeds in allowing refugees not just to settle, but to flourish alongside their Welsh friends. ‘Empathy days’ engender a sense of sympathy among all pupils, towards those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from the effects of war and persecution.
Alongside a focus on developing the pupils’ English language communication skills, the school is effective in helping refugees and asylum seekers to gain an interest in, and respect for, the Welsh language. Pupils, and in some cases their parents, are able to speak competently as learners of the language.
FE colleges and adult learning in the community partnerships
At the three colleges and two adult learning in the community partnerships we visited, support for the well-being and personal development of post-16 and adult refugee and asylum seeker learners was extensive and took many forms. Examples included simplified application processes; a range of courses, locations and modes of delivery; personal support and coaching; and extra-curricular activities that provided enrichment and boosted well-being. These older learners also benefited from links with external partners such as housing associations, Jobcentre Plus, and Citizens Advice. In some cases, entrepreneurship support was available for those hoping to start their own businesses.
Enterprise and entrepreneurship support at Bridgend College
ESOL learners at Bridgend College, including refugees and asylum seekers, can access support to develop their enterprise and entrepreneurship skills to help them start their own business. In recent years, ESOL learners have attended various in-person and online events including ‘start your own business’ workshops. One ESOL learner set up a mobile hairdressing business, another couple opened a halal restaurant, and another learner is setting up as a self-employed accountant with the support of Business Wales.
In most cases, adult refugees and asylum seekers were motivated learners and enjoyed learning. However, some were anxious about their futures in terms of relocation within the UK, or the possibility of returning to their home countries. Many were also struggling with the effects of trauma and its impact on their ability to focus on learning. Their teachers recognised this and responded sensitively and appropriately.
In addition to the support given by teachers, providers and external organisations, learners appreciated the benefits of being part of a learning community. For many, the relationships formed with their peers helped to provide a sense of community that extended beyond the learning environment. They valued the opportunity to learn about one another’s countries and cultures as well as being able to spend time together and support one another.
The Welsh Government is supporting its FE colleges to develop anti-racist curriculum modules as part of its Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan (2022, p. 46). However, refugee and asylum seeker learners did report that they had witnessed or suffered isolated incidents of racism or bullying. These incidents nearly always took place outside of the learning environment. If they felt support was needed, learners said that they knew who to contact.
Supporting ESOL learners who had confirmed or suspected additional learning needs (ALN) was a challenge for providers. This was partly because the language barrier limited the effectiveness of the diagnostic tools that they normally used. Where issues were identified, finding appropriately skilled staff members could also be difficult because both ESOL and ALN expertise was often needed by those who were supporting these learners.
Identifying additional learning needs among ESOL learners at Cardiff and Vale College
The ESOL Support and Inclusion Project (ESIP) helps teachers identify hidden learning barriers. A specialist team have developed three distinct areas of support: cascading learning to the teaching team; developing specialist classes and learning coach support for learners with low literacy in their native language; and working closely with specialist ALN teams to ensure that learners and staff can access expertise. Using this approach, the college succeeds in helping its learners break through hidden barriers and achieve their learning goals.
Newly arrived adult refugees and asylum-seekers hoping to access English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses and other relevant support could turn to the Regional ESOL Assessment Central Hubs (REACH). These one-stop shops offered helpful information but also acted as valuable conduits for pan-Wales sharing of information and good practice. Hubs were located in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham. The Cardiff REACH hub has assessed and supported over eight thousand ESOL learners since it was established in 2017.
Colleges and adult learning in the community partnerships helpfully provided hardware resources to learners where appropriate. This included loaning digital devices and dongles to support learners, particularly for those in more remote areas or those struggling with childcare demands, to access learning remotely.
Leading and improving
Schools and local authorities
A number of local authorities in Wales had adopted the vision and values of ‘City of Sanctuary’ to build a culture of hospitality and welcome for individuals fleeing war and persecution. They were generally highly effective in supporting refugees and asylum seekers, helping them to integrate into their communities and celebrating their contributions. In general, officers within local authorities and senior school leaders successfully promoted an inclusive ethos that focused on meeting the learning and well-being needs of all pupils.
Thanks to the professional learning of local authorities over recent years, their officers, school leaders and staff members had a good understanding of the specific challenges faced by asylum seekers and refugees. This awareness helped those involved to respond sensitively to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers and their families, enabling staff, pupils and parents to work together productively. However, funding pressures were affecting schools’ and local authorities’ capacity to employ specialist support staff such as engagement officers who could provide bespoke intervention.
In general, the local authorities included in our review worked very well with partner organisations to help schools provide suitable support for the learning and well-being of refugees and asylum seekers. They promoted an inclusive culture and used professional learning effectively to help staff members understand the range of challenges faced by these pupils and their families. Each of the local authorities recognised that a multi-agency, collective response was essential to effectively address the cultural, social, health, emotional, academic and housing needs of these vulnerable families. Strong collaboration, aligned to the ‘City of Sanctuary’ vision, was supported through dedicated meetings involving multiple agencies. This had helped staff within different organisations to better understand each other’s work, resulting in a purposeful culture where different specialists tapped into each other’s expertise. This was particularly effective when problemsolving on behalf of different refugee and asylum seeker families.
Multi-agency approach to holistic, person-centred support in Flintshire
Flintshire local authority recognise that all families are unique, with their own culture, history and educational experiences as well as housing, medical and social needs. The local authority provides a holistic multi-agency person-centred approach to meet the needs of each refugee and asylum seeker family.
- Emergency Management Response Team (EMRT) – brings together senior leaders responsible for education, social services, health, housing, police, communications, fire safety, DWP and finance. This provides educational services with timely information enabling a rapid response to different families’ changing needs.
- Education and Youth Response Team – supports school admission, transport, play team, youth services, family information services and collaboration from a range of inclusion services, for example English as an Additional Language (EAL) teaching, counselling and ALN.
- British Red Cross – provides orientation services for Ukrainian and Afghan refugees.
- Adult community learning – provides refugee and asylum seeker parents and other adults with access to education and training.
- Youth services – provide a range of community activities for parents and children dispersed across the county to facilitate networking between compatriots.
Local authorities and schools recognised that pupils’ learning was best supported through productive partnerships between themselves and parents. Generally, parents felt that whatever their circumstances, they knew who to turn to for support. This strong parental engagement helped to build the skills, confidence and self-esteem of parents. As a result, parents saw the school as a place where they could access advice and support. This would help them resolve issues relating to their children as well as wider concerns around housing, money, skills or family well-being. Many parents viewed their schools as a sanctuary and safe place. Local authorities ensured that schools had access to live telephone-based interpreting services as well as access to inperson interpreters when needed.
Communication between refugee and asylum seeker parents/carers and Cathays High School, Cardiff
Cathays High School have put in place bespoke support packages for pupils and their parents or carers, which cater for their emotional and learning needs, raise their aspirations and prepare them for the future.
Collaborative working helps to establish positive behaviours as refugee and asylum seeker pupils settle into a new way of life. Regular two-way communication between the school and the families or carers is prioritised. Partnership working in this way ensures a consistent approach for pupils at school and at home. The school and the parents or carers also benefit from clear and timely understanding of the children’s needs, and any related challenges, as they arise. The school’s high expectations help to ensure that refugee and asylum seeker pupils are well prepared for their future pathways.
Overall, these pupils are successful in achieving their goals, for example by going on to study at university or to start their own businesses.
The effectiveness of communication and collaboration between schools and post-16 providers to support refugees and asylum-seekers as they transitioned between them was too variable. Leaders recognised the need to develop this aspect further given the increased number of individuals from these communities, including unaccompanied children, who were preparing to leave school.
FE colleges and adult learning in the community partnerships
Leaders in FE colleges and adult learning in the community partnerships were responding well to the increased demand for ESOL provision. Providers had reacted quickly to meet demand and, where possible, they planned their provision in partnership with other stakeholders to secure an appropriate educational offer, avoid duplication of provision, and ensure that relevant support was available. Partners included other education providers, third sector organisations, local authority departments, Careers Wales and the DWP. Expanding ESOL provision had presented challenges in terms of recruiting new staff members, in particular those who were qualified and experienced in trauma informed practices. Providers recognised that this approach was not generally addressed as part of initial teacher training and that coverage as part of ongoing professional learning activities was also inconsistent.
Drop-in sessions for refugees at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai
The Gwynedd and Môn refugee resettlement scheme provides additional support for refugees in the form of one-stop-shop drop-in sessions held in various locations, including on Grŵp Llandrillo Menai college sites. These one-stop shops offer support with job searches as well as links into volunteering opportunities, and many refugees take advantage of this support. In addition, specialist advice and guidance are available to help refugees secure accommodation and access financial support. There are also monthly clothes swap banks that allow refugees to swap or acquire new clothes.
The perception among refugees and asylum-seekers of the existence of a hierarchy in the support that different communities received could be difficult for leaders and teachers to manage. Some groups could access benefits that others could not, such as free public transport, and this could lead to tensions that needed to be sensitively managed. Where possible, providers tried to compensate to ensure parity, for example by using alternative funding streams sensibly to fund services for those missing out.
Leaders expressed frustration that different grants with similar objectives seemed to have been set up with little consideration of existing grants. For example, they were unclear how they should use the ‘levelling up’ funding allocated by the UK Government alongside the Welsh Government funding streams.
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