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Refugee children face long delays accessing education in UK

Sep 20, 2018 by

Report finds schools unwilling to take refugees over fears their results will be affected

Refugee and asylum-seeking children face long delays accessing education after arriving in the UK, in many cases because schools are reluctant to offer them a place over fears they will lower GCSE results and affect school league tables.

Research by the children’s charity Unicef, seen exclusively by the Guardian, found not a single region in the UK had successfully met the 20-school-day target for finding places for all the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in their care.

The report, which is the first to provide a comprehensive national picture of the educational experience of children arriving in the UK, says young people trying to get into secondary schools and further education face the longest delays, with up to a quarter waiting for more than three months for a place and some up to a year.

One professional working in the West Midlands was unable to find a single school in Birmingham willing to accept a newly arrived teenager. “We had a lad here last year who arrived in the UK in April desperate to go to school – and this is off-the-scale unacceptable – he was 16, so should have been in year 11 [final year of secondary], and there was no school in Birmingham who wanted a GCSE-aged child who didn’t speak a word of English in April of year 11.”

Other delaying factors include complex online applications, the fragmented school admissions system and a lack of expertise within authorities to help with cases as a result of cuts to the number of specialist UASC teams. Temporary housing and time-consuming age checks to make sure refugees who present themselves as children are in fact school-age are also issues.

Source: Refugee children face long delays accessing education in UK | Education | The Guardian

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