As part of the response to teaching hundreds of thousands of newly arrived refugee children, the GEW has organised a series of workshops this year to support teachers and other education workers facing children with special psychological needs, such as trauma caused by the experience of war and the long journey to Europe.

The Hamburg psychologist Julia Fischer-Ortman has carried out workshops in Hamburg and Bremen as well as at the national GEW Education workshop in May at Walsrode, north of Hanover.

All refugees face significant physical and emotional pressures, but not all refugees are traumatised or will develop psychological problems. These practice-oriented workshops give a theoretical introduction to the topic and to behavioural problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorders.

The workshops are based upon a three-step approach for teachers facing these situations:

  • How do I recognise trauma?
  • What can I do when a child or a young person is made ill by the trauma?
  • When is psychotherapeutic help necessary?

More information (in German):

www.gew-hb.de/seminare
www.juliafischerortman.de

Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), EI affiliate and Scotland’s largest education trade union, has created a series of guides for teachers and lecturers on how to address myths of immigration in the classroom. The union made available three different guides depending on age range to provide support to teachers to understand the miscommunication and interpretation about immigration. Some of these myths include "we have loads of immigrants in the UK” and "people come to the UK because we’re a soft touch and give out loads of benefits; people just want free healthcare and free houses”. These guides were presented at the Scottish parliament and then sent to all nurseries, schools, colleges and universities. They’ve also been published on EIS’ website. The first guide is the “Early years myths of immigration” booklet, the second is the “Primary Myths of Immigration” booklet, and the third is the “Secondary Myths of Immigration” booklet. 

EIS’ president Margaret Smith stated "EIS welcomes and values a diverse and inclusive society, and we welcome refugees and asylum seekers to Scotland. We reject the demonisation of refugees and asylum seekers”.

The scope of the project called "My school is an intercultural world map in which we all learn better" is to develop teacher training activities, in order to improve the quality of day-to-day interactions with students from different cultural backgrounds.

The EI-supported project taking place at the Sansomendi IPI Educational Center in Vitoria, promotes the right to education for all migrant children, refugees, stateless persons and applicants for international protection, through training modules offered to the whole school staff. The course deals with brand new topics for teachers, such as the right to international protection, as enshrined in international law and current Spanish regulation, and its linkage with the right to education.

The training stimulated debate amongst teachers, highlighting the need to better know chidlren’s reality and day-to-day life, in order to address better the diverse needs of students and become aware of the potential transformative impact of teachers, educators, and other education workers.

 

In a joint call with leaders of Australia’s major charities and social service groups, the Independent Education Union (IEU) is looking to change the government’s policy towards refugees and migrants in Australia.

 

The more than 200 signatories believe Australia needs a more “humane” approach to asylum seekers and in particular, should abandon its current offshore approach to processing applications for international protection. The call was issued following the adoption of a historic High Court ruling that declared the Malaysia refugee swap deal invalid.

 

The groups call for six different actions to be taken.  

 

The first one invites the major political parties to respect any type of implications of the ruling, including not sending asylum seekers “to uncertainty in other countries and (…) present[ing it] as a just or credible response to the needs of people seeking refuge and protection in Australia”.

 

The next action is for the Australian government to use this ruling to change the debate about the refugee crisis.  They also want the Australian Government to rule out offshore processing and mandatory detention, and allow these asylum seekers to be put into communities until they hear their decisions.

 

Another request is to process all asylum seekers onshore, instead of spending money deporting people overseas.

 

The last two points are to increase Australia’s refugee and humanitarian intake in the region, by resettling 4000 Malaysian refugees and continuing to work towards a regional solution for the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

 

The call is available on IEU’s website: http://www.ieu.org.au/index.php/policy-submissions/social-justice/asylum-seekers-and-refugees

 

In a public event organized on 29 May 2017, the Bremen Education Union (GEW – LV Bremen) and the Bremen Refugee Council (Flüchtlingsrat Bremen) have criticised the lack of school places for hundreds of young refugees in Bremen. Despite the right to an education, and the legal requirement under German law to attend schools, these 6 to 18 year olds are not allowed to go to school. Instead, they face months in separate 'welcome classes' or are taught inside initial refugee accommodation by 'camp-teachers.' Other children wait for weeks or months for a place at a school. This 'dis-integration' instead of integration, has been strongly criticised by the GEW and Refugee Council.

The high level of new arrivals in the 2015 /6 school year could explain this situation. However, the end of the 2016 /17 school year sees the unfair treatment of refugee children and their exclusion from the mainstream school system becoming systemic. Significant investment is needed now, to provide enough school places and the necessary action against staff shortages so that this unfair treatment and lack of access to the education system is brought to an end.

According to the education authorities there are currently some 100 children and young people – for example in the initial accommodation center in Linden Strasse and in the emergency accommodation facility in the Falken Strasse who get a maximum of 2 hours of schooling a day from a 'camp teacher'. In Bremerhaven, the AWO (a charity) runs more than 20 so called 'Welcome Classes' for (more than 200) children without a school place. Despite the legal requirement to attend school existing in Bremen from the first day – the duty and therefore the right to an education applies for refugee children too, registering for a school place takes place after moving out of the initial accommodation center. This state of play cannot be allowed to become the rule. Instead, an accelerated placement within the mainstream education system should be the aim.

“The current practice breaks the law in multiple ways” according to Marc Millies from the Bremen Refugee Council referring both to state laws and EU legislation. The education authorities in Bremen claim that this exclusionary practice is 'educationally based' and is only temporary anyway. Simultaneously, the authorities admit that the rule of a maximum wait in the initial accommodation centers of only 3 months is regularly overrun. The new law which was agreed to by the Bundesrat on the 2nd of June ( "Gesetz zur besseren Durchsetzung derAusreisepflicht" – “Law to improve compliance with departure orders”) will allow refugee families to be held for up to two years in initial accommodation centers – for example in Bremen Vegesack. In line with the current practice, this would mean that the exclusion of some refugee children from the education system would become long term.