Brussels, 04 July 2022

ECSWE publishes guidelines for supporting Ukrainian refugee students
The guidelines give inspiration and concrete advice to hosting schools on how a safe and welcoming environment can be provided for refugee students to continue with their education.

A multi-layered approach to offering psycho-social support

Many arriv­ing fam­i­lies rely on schools’ capac­i­ty to pro­vide psy­cho-social help for arriv­ing refugee stu­dents while schools may often be over­whelmed with this task. The guide­lines there­fore intro­duce a mul­ti-lay­ered approach to deal with trau­ma intro­duc­ing spe­cif­ic roles for (1) the host­ing school as a whole, (2) indi­vid­ual teach­ers with spe­cial train­ing and (3) exter­nal pro­fes­sion­al ther­a­pists. The paper also high­lights typ­i­cal symp­toms of trau­ma that all the involved teach­ers should be aware of.

Navigating the obstacles of integration in the hosting school

The dual task of fol­low­ing the Ukrain­ian cur­ricu­lum remote­ly while set­tling into the host­ing school and its cur­ricu­lum caus­es a men­tal over­load for many Ukrain­ian refugee stu­dents. In the light of the uncer­tain­ty of a return home in the near future, the guide­lines high­light the impor­tance of refugee stu­dents main­tain­ing a con­nec­tion to Ukrain­ian cul­ture and lan­guage, while encour­ag­ing them to inte­grate more ful­ly into the host­ing school community.

Four practical ways of supporting refugee students in school

In the guide­lines, the role of the school in sup­port­ing refugee stu­dents is then fur­ther defined in terms of four key fac­tors: 1. address­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion chal­lenges by means of trans­la­tions into the first or sec­ond lan­guage and by ded­i­cat­ed lan­guage class­es in the lan­guage of the host­ing coun­try, 2. ensur­ing social inclu­sion by means of peer sup­port, parental involve­ment and anti bul­ly­ing-strate­gies, 3. the pro­mo­tion of a healthy school cli­mate, and 4. ded­i­cat­ed through art based work.

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Georg Jürgens