The education of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in care

Ellie Ott, Researcher, University of Oxford, Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, UK 

Aoife O’higgins, Phd student, University of Oxford, Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, UK    

European countries have seen a dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). In the most recent figures, the number of UASC in England have risen 54% (to 4,210) compared to the previous year. Although this number pales in comparison to other European countries, UASC now account for 6% of looked after children, and the majority (60%) of the rise in looked after children (DfE, 2016).  UASC experience disruptions in geography, culture, and education amongst others, but they often view schools as important locations for stability and development, from peer relationship to learning to wellbeing (Wade et al., 2012). UASC report higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder (e.g. Bronstein and Montgomery, 2011), and they are vulnerable to being excluded from education because of lack of language, arrival part-way through the year, age disputes, and unstable living arrangements. It is currently unknown what educational provision UASC receive in England and whether their provision meets their learning needs given their particular histories and psychological needs.   This presentation looks at: 1) What education provision are UASC in England currently accessing? (via preliminary findings from a mapping exercise) and 2) What education provision for UASC are associated with improved outcomes in high-income countries? (via an international systematic review). These questions are the basis of identifying what exists, what potentially works, and what should be further evaluated. The presentation will offer suggestions for social workers’  and foster carers’ engagement in schools and with education for UASC.

References : 

Bronstein, I., & Montgomery, P. (2011). Psychological distress in refugee children: A systematic review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14(1), 44-56.

Department for Education (DfE). (2016). Children looked after in England year ending 31 March 2016.

Wade, J., Sirriyeh, A., Kohli, R., & Simmonds, J. (2012). Fostering unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people. London: BAAF

Key-words: asylum-seeking children, refugee, education, systematic review

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