Mentors support children with limited English but ‘gaps’ in specialist skills remain


 (The Guardian)

As children without English as a first language exceed 1 million in England’s schools, concern mounts about lack of specialist support and training

english additional language

Students in class at Gladstone Primary School in Peterborough where all children have a mother tongue that is not English. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Growing numbers of children in the UK are entering schools with limited or no English. For young people at a state primary school in Cambridge, England, who do not speak English as their first language, help to overcome language barriers in class is at hand from sixth-formers from a local private secondary school who are being trained to act as special mentors.

The local initiative was launched recently by the Bell Foundation, the charity arm of the Bell Education Trust, best known as a provider of English language courses for foreign students, and the Stephen Perse Foundation, linked to Cambridge’s leading independent school. It is intended to give young children a chance to get the most out of their education in spite of having limited or little English.

The mentoring project will feed into further research by the Bell Foundation into improving educational outcomes for students identified as having English as an additional Language (EAL), but its direct impact will remain limited at a time when many schools across England are seeing their numbers of EAL students rising but are struggling to find the expertise and specialist training needed to support learners.

In 2012 more than 1 million children studying in state schools in England were identified as not counting English as their first language, a figure which has doubled since 1997. Gladstone Primary School in Peterborough, 65km north of Cambridge, recently made headlines in the UK when it reported that 100% of its learners have a mother tongue that is not English.

Gaps in EAL provision have been exacerbated by recent government funding cuts. The Ethnic Minority Achievement (EMA) grant was implemented in England 1999, providing funding with the aim of improving educational outcomes for minority ethnic groups, with a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of EAL students who needed additional language support. However in 2011 this funding was combined with the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) with choices about spending left to the schools’ discretion. This effectively ended the ringfencing of funding aimed specifically at providing for EAL learners.

According to Diana Sutton, director of the Bell Foundation: “The numbers [of EAL students] are increasing, the resources are decreasing and the expertise is being devolved to schools. On one level that’s potentially a good thing because schools can then control their own budget, but then the disadvantage is that there’s not centralised expertise in local authorities as there has historically been.”

Carrie Cable, an executive committee member from the EAL subject association Naldic (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum) agrees: “EAL services have been either drastically reduced or have completely gone. There are a few local authorities that have looked at their funding and have decided to retain an EAL consultant or expert, but more frequently what schools have been doing is employing unqualified teaching assistants to support EAL learners.”

The EAL picture in England is complicated, with huge variations in the number of EAL learners in different parts of the country. This ranges from less than 1% of pupils in rural areas to up to 77% of learners in some parts of London. While the majority of English language learners in state schools in other countries are likely to share a mother tongue, EAL learners in England speak one of more than 280 home languages.

The Bell Foundation is piloting a range of projects in the east of England. According to Diana Sutton, “[This] is an interesting region for children with EAL because you have the strong Eastern European migrant population in the eastern region and then a very different population in areas like Luton. In terms of what we can learn about this particular group of children, the east of England is fairly representative.”

But while the Foundation plans to invest in further EAL-related research alongside partners such as Naldic and Cambridge University until 2018, there remains limited training for new teachers in EAL support skills. Currently EAL is not available as a subject specialism for teachers doing their initial training qualifications.

Helga Watkins-Baker has just finished her PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) to teach primary school children. “There is some lecture time and discussion about EAL on the PGCE, but not much. Mainly what you learn about EAL learners is on the frontline, including practical pedagogy, ideas and tips,” she said.

Cable thinks that there is potential for a lack of consistency in EAL training. “It’s very variable. The Teaching Agency conducts an annual survey of newly qualified teachers. They ask them to rate how prepared they feel. EAL is included as one of the aspects. Consistently it has achieved the lowest rating,” she said.

“The difficulty is that we have a government at the moment which doesn’t seem to want to admit there’s any need, whereas we have teachers who are clearly saying there is a need and that they’re not adequately prepared to teach the students. So that’s a clear contradiction.”

Naldic is currently working on an update of their 2008 audit of training and development opportunities for teachers working with EAL pupils, with results due out next month.

Original article (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/mar/26/english-language-support-uk-schools).


The world is more educated than it’s ever been – how?

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aliaksei kruhlenia/www.shutterstock.com

Alan Britton, University of Glasgow

More people are going to school and university than ever before. That’s the largely positive picture of the state of education across the world published recently by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD’s Education at a Glance report doesn’t explain all the reasons for the changes taking place, but it does show some remarkable trends.

A third of adults in OECD countries held a tertiary-level qualification in 2014. Over the past 30 years there has been a “significant increase” in the educational attainment of populations in almost all OECD countries. The graph below shows this by comparing the education levels of young people and their parents.

Intergenerational mobility in education (2012)
Chart A4.1. Education at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing

South Korea has also raised enrolment in higher education – demonstrating a considerable increase in upward mobility as measure by the number of young people going to university whose parents had not. In some other other countries – notably Austria, Germany and the US – there has been more limited upward mobility.

Other data shows that in the space of one decade between 2000 and 2010, China increased the number of young people completing secondary education by 30%. This almost certainly reflects both the country’s massive economic growth over this period as well as the increasing urbanisation of the population. Over recent years, China has also moved rapidly up the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tables of pupil performance and has hugely expanded its university population both at home and abroad.

Of course, quantity does not equal quality – and even in some countries that perform highly on the PISA tests there are questions remaining about the versatility and creativity of otherwise highly literate and numerate students.

It is always dangerous to conclude too much from such international comparisons: each nation has its own particular historical and present-day social, cultural and economic contexts which strongly influence education. There are also “gaps” in the data from certain countries, so the OECD report does not provide a comprehensive account of every system in the world.

Still, those countries whose enrolment rates in higher education remain static ought to be concerned. The report clearly highlights the benefits of a university education, both for the individual and wider society. The higher your level of education, the more likely you are to feel healthy, to earn more, to take part in volunteering and to be politically engaged.

It is widely accepted that higher levels of education at all levels contribute to a wider range of other positive social, political and economic outcomes. Better education can even have an effect on reducing the likelihood of conflict and war.

More women than men with a degree

The education of women and girls has very positive effects. UNICEF states that: “each extra year of maternal education reduces the rate of mortality for children under the age of five by between 5% and 10%.” The evidence noted in both the OECD report and other available data sources suggests that historic gender inequalities in education are being flipped on their heads.

More women around the world are accessing education at all levels, from primary level to university. While their enrolment rates remain lower in some parts of the world – notably in poorer countries – in the OECD group of countries women have overtaken men in completion of higher education: around 11% more women graduate from university than men. And according to the OECD Report: “young men are significantly more likely than young women to have low skills and poor academic achievement.”

% of 25-34 year-olds who have attained tertiary education, by gender (2014)
Table A1.4b. Education at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing

Yet despite overtaking men in educational attainment, women remain under-represented in certain areas of study, such as engineering and manufacturing. And having a better education has not closed the pay gap between women and men. University-educated women tend to earn only around three-quarters of the pay of men with the same level of education, according to the OECD.

Education, globally, is improving. But this has happened mainly during an era of considerable investment in education systems both in the developed and the developing world. More recently, the global financial crisis has led to cutbacks in state spending on education in some nations. The OECD said that the annual growth in education spending between 2008 and 2012 decreased continually and there was no growth in investment in 2011-12.

The ConversationAcross the OECD, figures suggests there is significant net public return on investment in tertiary education – 1.2 times the cost of a woman’s education and 2.5 times the cost of a man’s education, when all related costs and benefits are taken into account. Cutting back on education expenditure would appear to be a false economy if our ambition is for better education worldwide.

Alan Britton, Senior University Teacher, Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education, University of Glasgow

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Survey shows long-term impacts of language travel


What do students value most in a language learning experience? Interacting with their host family, fellow students and teacher, according to a survey of 2,000 former language learners.

Language learningPhoto: Flickr/Mosaico Spanish Courses

Posted on Jul 27, 2017 by Sara Custer (Pie News)

When asked what helped them improve their language skill the most, 90% of respondents to global language provider Sprachcaffe’s Language Learning Sustainability Project said it was face-to-face interaction with other people.

Over half said they are more confident speaking the language thanks to the experience of learning abroad while 20% said it helped them travel more and 13% said it contributed to a change in their work life.

“Our product [study travel] is unique because it’s learning and travel. When it comes to language learning you can do it online quick and easy but if you want something more valuable you have language learning trips,” said Pauline Pitte, the study’s co-author.

“When it comes to language learning you can do it online quick and easy but if you want something more valuable you have language learning trips”

Taken over six months in 2016, the survey attracted former students from all over the world who had been on a language course abroad within the last five to 10 years. The project aims to show the long-term impacts of language learning abroad, said Pitte.

“We don’t want to make this about online versus in-class learning, we just wanted to explore the package students get when they go on language exchanges. Is it efficient for everyone?”.

According to responses, professional and academic drivers were the reasons why 62% of the students said they chose to take a language course abroad, while 38% said it was for leisure activities like international travel.

The survey also showed that some 72% of the students used the language on a regular basis – for 44% it’s daily while 28% said they use it weekly.

Overwhelmingly, most survey respondents had travelled to study English (62%) while German and Spanish courses attracted 10% each. As a result of the their new language skills, 30% said they could now watch videos and movies in the native language.

60%  of respondents said they keep in touch with people they met on their trip

“TV series and films often lose a lot of their wit through translation,” said Ina, a German travel blogger who started the site Genussbummler. “But tutorials on YouTube are also often in English and not in German… without English I would not be able to solve my technical problems.”

The impact language learning has on people’s personal lives is also evident in the survey results. Students reported making strong personal connections with their fellow students while studying a language abroad, with 60% of respondents saying they keep in touch with people they met on their trip.

Learning a language abroad can also lead to lifelong romance, the study shows. In an interview, a German and Brazilian couple who met while studying Spanish in Malaga and are now married said: “Learning a new language and orienting ourselves with a new and completely different environment, and also having fun while doing so, had positive effects on our self-confidence.”

The majority of students (68%) said they went on their language learning trips before they turned 30 which suggests they were more open to life changes, the study says.

“Our study shows once again that language learning genuinely changes lives in the long term,” commented Alberto Sarno, CEO of Sprachcaffe.

“Not only does it connect unused synapses in the brain and open up new horizons, but it also uncovers opportunities you never thought about before: whether professional, academic, romantic or destined… no aspect will stay the same!”

Original Article (https://thepienews.com/news/survey-long-term-impacts-language-travel)

 


Most graduates will never pay off their student loans

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Andrew Gunn, University of Leeds

New finding show that more than 70% of students who left university last year are never expected to finish repaying their loans. The report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that many of these graduates – the first cohort to pay the higher £9,000 fees – will be making repayments for 30 years. This means that a large number of graduates will be paying back their loans well into their 50s – and a growing proportion of the money lent out will never be repaid.

This is because, under the current system in England, when graduates earn over £21,000 they start making repayments of 9% of their salary above that threshold. And if the loan isn’t repaid within 30 years, the outstanding balance is written off.

These new findings add to concerns the current policy of lending large sums to students to pay for their degree – rather than funding universities directly – is not sustainable over the long-term. There have been calls by members of the Conservative party for a rethink over fees policy – and some have suggested that the end of tuition fees could be on the horizon.

The political debate

Student fees were already back on the agenda as a result of the recent election after Labour took the lion’s share of student votes with their promise of wiping out tuition fees altogether.

Analysis by YouGov has also shown that the electorate is deeply divided by age and level of education: younger and more educated people were found to be less likely to vote Conservative. Understandably, the Conservative party is now concerned it could cost them an election in future.

A high turnout among young voters boosted Labour’s vote share.
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This has led to Damien Green, the first secretary of state – and effectively Theresa May’s deputy – saying that a “national debate” on student fees may be needed. Green also added that the Conservatives will have to “change hard” to entice young educated voters away from Labour.

In response, universities minister Jo Johnson is doubling down on current policy, arguing disadvantaged young people are now 43% more likely to go to university than in 2010 and that abolishing tuition fees would cost taxpayers an additional £100bn by 2025. He also points to the fact that many loans are not fully repaid, which he argues shows the government is subsiding the lowest-earning graduates.

The realities of fees and funding

What Johnson says is correct, there has been a big increase in the number of disadvantaged students going to university. But one of the main reasons for this is because at the same time as increasing fees, the government also sought to remove the “cap” on student numbers – so there is no longer a limit to the total number of places on offer.

Prior to the cap being removed in England, undergraduate education was paid for through taxes – as is still the case in Scotland – meaning the number of places had to be capped because the government only has so much money to spend.

So removing the cap in England has enabled universities to make more offers to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. This has been mainly through “contextual admissions” – which is where information including school performance data and socioeconomic markers are used to provide background to an application.

Indebted graduates

The proportion of young people entering undergraduate education has grown massively over time (student numbers have almost doubled since 1992) meaning those educated at university are no longer considered to be an “elite” group. In real terms this means that, as a group of voters, the student population expands every year – making them more influential. This is not just an electorate with more graduates, but one with more indebted graduates.

Last year maintenance grants were replaced with maintenance loans – which has increased student borrowing further. And, as the IFS report shows, this decision means students from the poorest backgrounds will now have debts of on average £57,000 after a three-year degree – as these students will need to take out the maximum loan amount.

Then there is also the issue of the interest rate charged on the loans and how much graduates earn before they start paying it back. In recent years students have taken on ever-larger loans – and this, combined with rising interest rates, is making it more expensive for graduates and undermining confidence in the system. As the IFS reports, this has hit poorer students and middle-earning graduates the hardest.

Smile, despite that debt.
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Despite this, the policy on fees isn’t about to change just yet. The Conservatives are currently occupied with dealing with consequences of some their more unpopular policies – such as abandoning the creation of new grammar schools and considering what to do with their proposals for technical education.

The ConversationBut sooner or later the Conservatives will need to produce another manifesto. And the current debate, along with lessons learnt from the last election, may mean they revise their electoral offer to students and graduates – as all political parties look to adjust to this new electoral reality.

Andrew Gunn, Researcher in Higher Education Policy, University of Leeds

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Don’t fear British sarcasm – and other advice for overseas postgrads


Moving countries for a degree is a formidable challenge but it’s immensely rewarding. Here are some lessons I learned

Students outside university building

‘I was warned that the British are stand-offish, prim and take offence at the slightest social misstep.’ Photograph: University of Glasgow

In my year group as a postgraduate, I saw half of the non-UK students drop out. This far exceeded the class’s drop-out rate for UK students. It helps put into context the scale of the challenges that international students face in coming to the UK to do a postgrad degree. Having recently faced those challenges myself, I have some advice.

Making friends is easier than you think

As I prepared to emigrate to the UK, I was repeatedly warned that the British are standoffish, prim and take offence at the slightest social misstep. These cautionary tales were reinforced by funny articles insisting that the British use words to say the opposite of what they mean. As a result, I remained silent and petrified during my first few months.

It’s best to dispel this ridiculous stereotype at once. This is not to say that every Briton wants to be your best friend, but neither are they likely to murder you for adding both lemon and milk to your tea. (They may do for queue jumping, though.)

That said, you might find it helpful to befriend fellow non-UK postgrads, as they are probably in a similar situation and equally eager to make new friends. Some postgraduate programmes actively support such connections by running mentorship programmes.

Don’t blame yourself

Unless you are superhuman, the going will get tough. Completing a master’s or PhD is a gargantuan task under the best of circumstances. You will have to manage everything involved in settling in the UK: keeping up with immigration bureaucracy; finding somewhere to live; opening a bank account; registering with the NHS; arranging travel cards for public transport; maybe managing a language barrier; probably hunting for and holding down a part-time job. If you are self-funded at the overseas rate, you will also be burdened by the knowledge that you are paying an enormous amount for your degree.

It is perfectly natural, even unavoidable, that at times you will feel overwhelmed, anxious and even depressed. Talk to your international colleagues and you will likely discover that they share your anxieties.

You have much to learn, but still more to teach

One of the big differences between international students who pursue an undergraduate degree in the UK, and those who come for the first time to do a postgraduate degree, is their starting position. Every undergrad knows nothing about higher education, and their degrees are structured and paced accordingly. This is not the case for postgraduate degrees. You may well find yourself envious of students who have studied in this system before, who know the inside track and might even be on a first-name basis with staff.

Be prepared to unlearn some habits you acquired at your home institution, and to adopt some of the unfamiliar ways of UK universities. But don’t abandon your academic background entirely. I often found I had the advantage of a fresh perspective or a rare piece of knowledge. So don’t be afraid to speak up.

Plan ahead for your career

There are different steps you should take during your postgraduate studies, depending on whether you intend to return to your country of origin or stay on in the UK to work. Either way, planning ahead is crucial.

If you intend to return, you should maintain professional as well as social ties with your home country. These include presenting at conferences back home, and returning for work experience or internships. You may not feel it yet, but postgraduate studies in the UK can earn you a fair amount of respect.

If you intend to stay, cement connections with contacts in the UK. On top of all that, make sure you research the UK immigration rules that apply to your country of origin. If you come from a country outside the EU or commonwealth, staying in the UK might prove difficult. Many graduate-level jobs can be too poorly paid to sponsor work visas.

Finally, allow yourself a moment of pride for making a courageous decision. For an international student, completing a UK postgrad degree is a formidable challenge, but it is immensely rewarding. It will, quite simply, change your life. How and in what way is largely up to you.

Follow Guardian Students on Twitter: @GdnStudents. For graduate career opportunities, take a look at Guardian Jobs.

Original article (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jul/22/advice-overseas-postgrads-university-higher-education)

 

 

‘Staying silent now is a really bad idea’


TheWhiteHouse TrumpTheresaweb

July 2017 (EL Gazette)

International students are ‘upset’ about US and UK immigration policies and could head elsewhere if universities fail to show their friendly side, a survey suggests.

The findings reveal that ‘unwelcoming’ foreign policies are changing students’ perceptions – and possibly decisions – even when they don’t directly affect them.

‘International students are registering their distaste,’ said Ben Waxman, chief executive of Intead, one of the two student-marketing companies behind the research.

‘They are asking, “Why are you closing your doors to internationalisation?”’

The survey, conducted in February by Intead and FPPEDU Media and presented last month, received responses from over 57,400 prospective international students.

Many of those in non-EU countries said they were less likely to study in the UK because of Brexit. This included 43 per cent of respondents from India and 39 per cent from Nigeria – the fifth- and sixth-largest source markets for the UK higher education sector.

As for the US, the election of Donald Trump seems to be making some students think twice. About 60 per cent of respondents from Brazil said they were less likely to study in the US – up from 49 per cent when the same question was asked before the 2016 presidential elections.

But the percentage of Mexican students who said they would not study in the US has actually fallen, from 80 per cent in 2016 to 61 per cent this year.

Similar percentages of all students surveyed said they would be less likely to choose the US as a study destination due to the US government’s travel policies. A total of 59 per cent of UK students said they would be less likely to study in the US for this reason.

The picture is quite grim, but how likely are students to follow through?

Trump numbers

International students are ‘upset’ about US and UK immigration policies and could head elsewhere if universities fail to show their friendly side, a survey suggests.

The findings reveal that ‘unwelcoming’ foreign policies are changing students’ perceptions – and possibly decisions – even when they don’t directly affect them.

‘International students are registering their distaste,’ said Ben Waxman, chief executive of Intead, one of the two student-marketing companies behind the research.

‘They are asking, “Why are you closing your doors to internationalisation?”’

The survey, conducted in February by Intead and FPPEDU Media and presented last month, received responses from over 57,400 prospective international students.

Many of those in non-EU countries said they were less likely to study in the UK because of Brexit. This included 43 per cent of respondents from India and 39 per cent from Nigeria – the fifth- and sixth-largest source markets for the UK higher education sector.

As for the US, the election of Donald Trump seems to be making some students think twice. About 60 per cent of respondents from Brazil said they were less likely to study in the US – up from 49 per cent when the same question was asked before the 2016 presidential elections.

But the percentage of Mexican students who said they would not study in the US has actually fallen, from 80 per cent in 2016 to 61 per cent this year.

Similar percentages of all students surveyed said they would be less likely to choose the US as a study destination due to the US government’s travel policies. A total of 59 per cent of UK students said they would be less likely to study in the US for this reason.

The picture is quite grim, but how likely are students to follow through?


Refugees welcome? How UK and Sweden compare on education for young migrants

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Joanna McIntyre, University of Nottingham

In the UK, the world’s fifth richest economy, vulnerable children are being denied education. Asylum seekers and refugee children are struggling to access education – and unable to attend school or college. This contravenes rights to equal educational access in accordance with international human rights law.

I’m currently working on research projects about child refugees, one of which compares experiences of children in the UK with those arriving in Sweden – and I am concerned that the UK education system is not currently fit for purpose or able to provide adequate schooling for every child.

The fact of the matter is that refugee children should be resettled in the UK. It is quite simply the right thing to do for obvious humanitarian reasons. As Ghandi observed:

The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.

Lessons should be learned from countries such as Sweden, where more inclusive practices are already in place. It should also be considered how education policies and practices are working against schools and teachers who want to welcome refugees but who are unable to.

Hassan’s story

Take Hassan, he’s 15 and Iranian, and I met him at an arts workshop for recently arrived child refugees in the UK. Hassan had been in the UK for four months and did not yet have a school place.

His age is the first barrier when it comes to an education. This is because Hassan should be in year 11 – GCSE year – which means a school could be reluctant to take him because he is unlikely to have sufficient preparation time for exams.

Teachers are also under massive amounts of pressure to deliver outcomes to boost their school’s progress scores and performance in league tables. And new arrivals such as Hassan – regardless of their prior attainment and experience – are unlikely to be able to adjust to the English school culture and absorb the content and skills required to pass high stakes examinations in the remaining months of year 11.

Are refugees really welcome?
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The second barrier is language. When we met, Hassan had a friend translating. And until he has a school place, Hassan will be reliant on the support of volunteer groups for English language lessons.

There is another practical barrier, too – Hassan had a letter from his local authority (which he carries with him) saying there are three potential schools for him. But none are near Hassan’s home, and two of the schools are two bus rides away.

Navigating the system

If Hassan isn’t successful in finding a school place in 40 days, his case will appear before what’s known as a Fair Access Panel. This will allocate a place to Hassan and there will be a further period of time when the school can appeal this decision.

Should he find a place, the school, undoubtedly worried about balancing budgets and managing limited resources, will decide which class to put him in, which subjects, and which sets. He might also attend an intervention programme to develop his English and help him access the curriculum, but such places are limited.

Language training for refugees.
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More likely, Hassan will be placed in a mainstream classroom and given in-house language support – which will mean withdrawal from some lessons. He will probably also be placed in lower sets because his English will mask his real ability.

These decisions will have short, and maybe, longer term implications for Hassan’s prospects and for the friendship groups he develops.

The Swedish way

But until Hassan gets a school place, he is stuck. He reached the UK but is unable to begin making a new life because he cannot access the support the education system should be able to offer him. And if this is still the case after the age of 16, his experiences are likely to be worse because places in post 16 provision are often even more limited.

But had Hassan landed in Sweden, he and his family would access two hours daily of Swedish language tuition – as part of their residence permit. In school, Hassan would also receive two hours teaching per week in his home language.

This reflects research which shows that when it comes to language learning, a bilingual environment is most successful. This means a child’s first language is continued to enable them to learn a second or third language more quickly.

In Sweden, Hassan’s local school would also commit to enrol him as quickly as possible. Often within a fortnight of arriving in the country.

Not just another brick in the wall.
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Like Sweden, schools in the UK should also be inclusive spaces that offer education for all rather than just for league tables. This is important because young refugees are likely to complete their education in their new country – becoming full members of their “post-settlement” society.

The ConversationSo instead of restricting access to education, the UK should instead recognise the potential of these children and welcome them in its schools as they begin their new lives.

Joanna McIntyre, Associate Professor of Education, University of Nottingham

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.