Asylum Seeker and Refugee (ASR) Support Team

The service provides advice, guidance and support to schools and to parents and pupils from the Asylum-seeking and Refugee community.

The ASR Support Team aim to:

  • Improve the quality of educational support provided to the ASR community;
  • Provide a consistent service to schools and families in need of support across Northern Ireland;
  • Facilitate equality of access from pre-school to post-primary education;
  • Provide information and guidance around pathways into further and higher education;
  • Build the capacity of schools to meet the educational needs of ASR children and young people;
  • Support and encourage family learning, out of school hours learning and life-long learning.

Support

Parental Support

The ASR Support Team can help parents to access education for their children and can assist with applications for school places, free school meals and uniforms, and transport as well as providing information around procedures to help children and young people with additional learning needs. Each asylum-seeking family with a school aged child is provided with a laptop device to aid home-school engagement and learning. You can request support directly for your family, or on behalf of a family by completing an online form.

School Support

We can support home/school engagement, and can advocate for children and young people during school meetings when necessary and appropriate. We provide advice to schools and other educational settings on how best support the learning and integration of pupils from an ASR background. This often involves reminding schools of how to use the contracted EA Interpreting and Translation Services.

Schools Trauma Advisory and Referral Service (STARS)

STARS is a pilot EA service set up to address the issue of trauma (where it presents as a barrier to learning or integration) with children and young people of school-age from Syria who are now living across Northern Ireland through the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. Schools can refer into the service by completing the online form.

Training

The ASR Support Team and the STARS team have produced self-directed training available through the EA’s online training portal. This training is aimed at schools or educational professionals who work or are likely to work with children from an asylum-seeking and refugee background. It includes information and guidance about how to develop a trauma-informed approach in your setting to support these pupils. Access using the code t2840y.

Resources

With support from UK Home Office funding, the Intercultural Education Service has produced several resources to support pupils from asylum seeking and refugee backgrounds.

Kitabna Resource Folder

Bilingual Storybooks

The EA commissioned Kitabna to create ‘When the Lights Go Out’ in 2019 to help support the integration of Arabic-speaking refugees and asylum seekers into schools across Northern Ireland.

In 2021, EA STARS team worked with Kitabna again to create three new bilingual therapeutic stories designed for newcomer pupils who may be experiencing grief, separation and difficulties when trying new things. A therapeutic story uses metaphor to create a safe space in which distressing emotions can be explored and shared. The three new books are:

1. A First New Friend

2. The Mountains in our Hearts

3. Where Do You Come From?

All four of these stories can be accessed and downloaded from the Kitabna Online Library, along with other anthologies of stories Kitabna has made freely available in e-book format.

Reading Guides

Download the most appropriate version of the guides (Key Stage 1 /2 / 3) for your class and use the related curriculum resource pack to extend the children’s learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an Asylum Seeker and a Refugee?

A person seeking asylum:

  • flees their home;
  • arrives in another country, whichever way they can;
  • makes themselves known to the authorities;
  • submits an asylum application; and
  • has a legal right to stay in the country while waiting for a decision.

A refugee:

  • has proven that they’d be at risk if returned to their home country;
  • has had their claim for asylum accepted by the government;
  • has permission to stay in the UK either long term or indefinitely; and
  • Refugees have a right under UK and international law to bring their immediate family members to join them.

You can read some important mythbusting facts about Asylum Seekers and Refugees on the Children’s Society website.

What is the Northern Ireland Refugee Resettlement Scheme formally known as the (Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS)?

The Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS) is a government scheme that resettled Syrian refugees across the UK between 2015 and 2020. The scheme here was renamed the Northern Ireland Refugee Resettlement Scheme (NIRRS) in 2020 and continues to welcome Syrian refugees, albeit in smaller numbers. Each VPRS family with a school aged child is provided with a laptop device to aid home-school engagement and learning.

What is the Afghan Refugee Resettlement Scheme?

This scheme is due to start resettling Afghan citizens in Northern Ireland. It is anticipated that the scheme will be operated in a similar fashion to the VPRS (see above), with comparable levels of support for families provided in education, health and social care, housing and access to work and benefits. It is also likely that additional, ring-fenced funding will be made available to schools that register children and young people who arrive through the scheme.

ASR Support Team Contact

If you wish to log a query or a request for support for a child or young person from an ASR background, you can do so via the IES Helpdesk.

Last updated: 07/01/2022