Flintshire’s ‘Person-Centred Approach’ – A lifeline for refugee children in local schools
Flintshire Councillors are to be updated on how refugee children are being supported in the county’s schools.
A joint education and social care scrutiny committee meeting is being held this week in which councillors will consider a report on how children and families under various refugee schemes are settling into school life in Flintshire.
According to the report, the council has now welcomed more than 150 refugees into its schools via the Ukrainian Sponsorship schemes, the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (SVPRS).
It makes clear that there is no cost to the council as funding is provided by the Home Office under the terms and conditions of the schemes. But this funding ends in August 2024 and concerns remain regarding the longer term needs of this vulnerable group of learners.
Of the Ukrainian scheme the report states: “As of April 2023 there were 84 Ukrainian children in Flintshire aged three to 18.
“Of these, 68 learners are accessing Flintshire mainstream schools across 22 primary settings and seven secondary settings. There is one learner accessing a specialist school and another engaging in early entitlement provision.
“Four learners are attending schools in other counties and six have engaged in post-16 education either in a school sixth form or local college provision.
A further four children have recently arrived and are in the admissions process. An additional eight children and young people have been supported into education but have now returned to Ukraine.”
With regards to the Afghan scheme, the report states that as of April, there were 29 children and young people from Afghanistan aged four to 18 attending mainstream schools across five primary settings and four secondary settings.
The council accommodated a further 17 children and young people who have since moved to larger cities such as Birmingham with their families.
As of April, there are 19 children who have arrived through the Syrian scheme attending mainstream schools in the county across six primary settings and three secondary settings.
The authority has accommodated a further six children, who have relocated out of Flintshire with their families.
The report details that the council has taken a “person centred” approach, understanding that each child would have different needs and may have experienced significant trauma.
It states: “Officers recognised that the educational and lived experiences of each child is unique with some arriving with no English and very little previous schooling, compared with others who have experienced excellent educational opportunities.
“Similarly, some have experienced significant upheaval and trauma, having lost or become estranged from parents and other close family members, whilst others have had minimal upheaval given the circumstances.”
A particular challenge of the Ukrainian schemes has been the “unavoidable accommodation moves” that the families have experienced, according to the report, with some people having to move twice from hotel, to sponsor, to private accommodation.
However, all schools have responded extremely positively and welcomed learners and families into their communities, the report adds.
Schools have received advisory support, language tuition for pupils where required and a valuable home-school liaison.
The report concludes that there have been a number of challenges for the council in responding to the needs of the schemes.
It says: “In education, these involved the need for multiple moves between hotels, hosts and private accommodation. Some of our schools are oversubscribed which resulted in added pressure in relation to the sourcing of placements in some locations.
“The varying needs of the children and their families has necessitated the implementation of the flexible, person-centred approach as highlighted within the core values and principles outlined in the report which can be time and labour intensive.
“Despite this, there has been a real sense of success with evidence of true multi-agency working resulting in a positive experience for refugee families and learners in Flintshire.
“There is a sense of pride around what has been achieved in such a short window of time for these families who due to desperate circumstances, have had to relocate to another country.”
Councillors from both the education, youth and culture, and health and social care scrutiny committees will discuss the report when they meet this Thursday, June 29.
By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter (more here). Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com