UCL students help establish Refugee Welcome schools in London
The module allows students to learn firsthand about the work done by local schools to help refugee students. Source: Shutterstock

Joining forces with civil society, students at University College London’s Institute of Education (IOE) have put their work placement module to good use as they help three London schools to be accredited as official Refugee Welcome Schools.

The module allows students to bring their own ideas as well as learn firsthand about the work done by local schools to help refugee students.

Stuart Tannock, programme leader for the BA Education Studies at the IOE, said the project let many of his students experience and see what “social justice campaigns” can accomplish.

“Many of our students have said they have been deeply moved by their placement work and are currently hoping to take up work and volunteering activities as a result,” Tannock said, as published on the university’s website.

Developed by Citizens UK and supported by NASUWT, the Teachers’ Union, the Refugee Welcome School accreditation scheme requires schools to provide detail of a Refugee Welcome Plan, a Refugee Learning Plan, and a Refugee Action Plan.

This means schools have to ensure refugees are welcome and that pupils and staff are educated. They must also take part in community campaigns to better refugees’ lives in the UK.

The three schools are Newman College in Brent, Leyton Sixth Form College in Waltham Forest and St Gabriel’s in Camberwell.

Hiba Alwadi, a Palestinian student in her third year, said her placement at Newman College “moved” her when she saw how the school was welcoming and helping refugees.

In one visit to the school’s EAL (English as an additional language) department, Hiba saw the 300 refugees from several countries in the department, which was facing a shortage of staff who could speak Arabic.

She’s now set to work as an Arabic-speaking teaching assistant for the department as a permanent staff from September.

“This module did not only increase our knowledge; it taught us so many things we never knew or experienced before. This module made us all engaged towards helping social justice in education.”

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