The NUT (England and Wales) has produced a Guide for schools entitled ‘Welcoming Refugee Children to Your School’.  It can be downloaded from the NUT website or printed copies are available by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Guide advocates a whole school community approach which includes students and parents as well as teachers.  It focuses on treating all children with a ‘can do’ approach, building the child’s sense of identity and self-esteem rather than looking at what a child cannot do. 

The key principles of effective practice for teachers new to teaching refugee children set out in the guide are:

  • A ‘can do’ approach focussed on children’s strengths;
  • Getting communication with parents right;
  • Active steps to counter prejudice about refugees;
  • The host children are central to creating refugee-friendly schools;
  • Understand the impact of trauma, separation, bereavement or post-traumatic stress;
  • Celebrate the contribution made to your school community by new arrivals; and
  • Take a child-centred approach.


The AFT's "Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators and School Support Staff" includes both background information on immigration— especially for refugee asylum seekers crossing the border from Mexico—and practical advice for families threatened by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration raids, deportation and detention.

The guide outlines basic facts about immigration, including why so many young people have moved to the U.S. from Central America—many are fleeing gang violence, crime and human trafficking; others are trying to reconnect with family members already living in the U.S. It quantifies the movement: Since 2014, more than 100,000 unaccompanied children have sought refuge in the United States, primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The guide describes what an ICE raid can be like: large groups of armed agents who sometimes come with no warrant in predawn hours and sometimes target youth whose status has changed because they have recently turned 18. It explains what happens if someone is arrested, using a step-by-step "home raid-to-deportation map" to describe the process.

Relevant immigration law also is outlined in the guide: For example, it explains that ICE is prohibited from raids on school property, at hospitals, during funerals, weddings and other public religious ceremonies, and at public demonstrations; and it notes that schools are prohibited from providing information from a student's file to federal immigration agents without a parent's consent.

But most useful are the guide's practical tools for those who want to help. "Creating a safe space where students can come to you for support and advice is the best thing you can do for your students," it tells educators. Informing students and their families of their rights is one of the most important directives, and the guide provides a list of "What to do if ICE comes to your door," which can be posted. Among the advice: Don't open the door because agents must have a warrant. Don't speak without first consulting an attorney.

Other suggestions for educators include:

  • Work with parents to develop a family immigration-raid emergency plan. (Who will take care of the children? Save money for attorney fees.)
  • Provide a safe place for students to wait if a parent or sibling has been detained.
  • Provide counseling for students who have had a family member detained.
  • Maintain a list of resources such as pro bono attorneys, immigration advocates and social workers.

Other suggestions include issuing statements condemning the raids; writing letters to the Department of Homeland Security in support of individual students who have been detained; and adopting school and district resolutions to protect students from ICE agents on school campuses, to treat students equitably and to train teachers on how to deal with immigration issues. These are practical steps to fight back against the attacks that are eroding the trust that educators work hard to build with the students and families they serve.

The "Immigrant and Refugee Children" guide was developed by the AFT in partnership with United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center and First Focus.


The Alberta Teachers' Association has produced in partnership with the Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation, a series of teaching resources to support immigrant and refugee students. Each guide focuses on a specific community (Arab, Karen, Somali and South Sudanese students). It provides teachers with information concerning the students' cultural background and suggestions to adapt lessons to these students' specific needs. It also includes an orientation guide to Canadian schools for newcomer parents in their own language.

The guides can be downloaded as PDF:

The NUT (England and Wales) responded to the British Government’s All Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry – "Refugees Welcome? Experiences of new refugees in the UK" launched in July 2016.  In its response the NUT called for:

  • Recognition of the key frontline role that primary and secondary schools have in receiving and making refugees welcome in the UK
  • Teachers to have resources, training and support to enable them to personalise the curriculum and their assessment strategies to support the learning of refugee children. Support for teachers in working with refugee children. The NUT has produced relevant guidance which can be found at
  • The Inquiry to recommend that Government properly resource the collection of centralised data, maintenance of up-to-date resources in line with best practice, and sensible planning for refugee children in schools. 
  • The Inquiry  to urge Government to maintain probity and adhere to the Information Privacy Principles in the collection and use of personal information regarding refugee children. 
  • The government to support schools effectively in order that all children, and particularly vulnerable refugee children, feel safe and secure in education,  given recent tensions over immigration in the post-Brexit environment, where a number of schools featured in racist incidents immediately after the referendum.
  • The Inquiry to recommend to Government that vital funding for  refugee education worker and EAL posts be restored to local authorities. Further, delegation of funding to individual schools means only a minority of local authorities and schools continue to fund and implement programmes to support refugee children and employ the necessary EAL and Refugee Support Teachers.  In many areas of the country they have been cut entirely. Services are patchy, lacking in central direction and not connected to latest evidence-informed practice at a time when there are growing numbers of refugee children and other children with increased EAL requirements.


On Monday 24 October, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Government of the United States of America to abolish the mandatory detention of migrants, especially asylum seekers, from all countries.

“Mandatory detention of migrants, especially asylum-seekers, is against international law standards,” the expert panel stressed at the end of its first official visit to the country, while urging the authorities to ensure individual assessment for detention of asylum seekers, including women, men and children.

“While immigration detention should be civil, i.e. non-punitive, in nature, we observed during our visits to various immigration facilities that people are being detained under punitive conditions that are often indistinguishable from those applicable to persons subject to criminal punishment,” said the Group’s delegation comprised by human rights experts Seong-Phil Hong, José Guevara, and Leigh Toomey.

“The detention of migrants appears to be implemented as a deterrent to immigration and to the continuation of legitimate immigration claims,” the experts said. “Migrants who vigorously pursue claims for relief from removal face substantially longer detention periods than those who concede removability, and subsequently have a record of entry that can be the basis to deny re-entry in the future. Moreover, mandatory detention can cause asylum seekers to revoke legitimate claims.” 

The Working Group also expressed concern about the practice of separating families and urged the US Government to end the detention of families and children, including unaccompanied children, in the context of migration and make concrete efforts to explore alternatives to detention.

The Working Group’s full end-of-mission statement is available here.