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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.