The CDETB Separated Children’s Service has successfully been addressing the complex education needs of Separated Children and students from refugee backgrounds since 2001. Separated Children Seeking Asylum and young refugees are a specifically vulnerable group, many of whom have no English and have come from backgrounds where their education has been severely disrupted. It is important that they receive targeted support in order to develop the literacy and language needs necessary to engage with the Irish curriculum.’ according to Jessica Farnan. Jessica is manager of the CDETB Separated Children’s Service, which hosted a seminar last month entitled Destination School: Transitions for Refugee Students to celebrate the success and learning from a three year project: the Refugee Access Programme – RAP entitled ‘Destination School – Transitions for Refugee Students’
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Minister Frances Fitzgerald, opened the event and commented on the importance of appropriate supports for Separated Children Seeking Asylum stating that “all children deserve the best start in life. But when you are separated from family, in a different country, the challenge of childhood can be daunting. I wish to commend the Refugee Access Programme on it’s valuable work with Separated Children and other young people from refugee backgrounds.”
The seminar was attended by 55 participants (including teachers, principals, care staff and professionals who work in the education/youth sector with refugees) who attended two workshops at the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin.
A Language and Literacy Workshop: ‘Reading and writing float on a sea of talk’ explored what is meant by academic literacy in the context of post-primary education. Drawing on the experience of the Refugee Access Programme in relation to the teaching of academic skills to young refugees, participants appraised a range of teaching approaches and activities which address the literacy skills required of all students in mainstream education.
A Transitions workshop explored how socio-cultural and other non-academic factors can affect students’ participation and progress in school and school life. Participants discussed what interventions and supports – both inside and outside of school – assist Separated Children and other young refugee students. A number of Separated Young People contributed to this workshop.
Over the past three years the RAP has worked with 128 students from over 30 different countries. RAP was co-financed through the European Refugee Fund and supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Department of Justice and Equality and Pobal.
The Refugee Access Programme has also developed two key teaching and learning resources:
- Stepping Stones: Starting Second-Level School in Ireland (resource and DVD) and
- Embedding Academic Literacy Skills across the Curriculum: a practical resource.
For further information please contact: www.separatedchildrenservice.ie