Your role with schools
If the family you support have school-aged children, you will need to help them register their children in local schools within the first two weeks of arrival as part of your sponsor obligations.
When you wrote your application, you will have researched the school registration process. However, once you know the make-up of the family, you should start researching which schools have places available, building on the Property Offer Form you will have completed prior to the allocation of the family to you. Each Local Authority will have different procedures for registration and you should ensure that you work within local guidance for this. If you are a Group in Scotland, do ensure you know the guidance for Education in Scotland.
Remember that your role is not to act for, or in place of students’ guardians, rather to support the guardians of the children in understanding their roles.
Preparing the school for arrival
Once a decision has been made on which school the children in the family will attend, offer to help the school prepare to welcome the children. Many Community Sponsorship Groups have given us examples of what they have found to be useful:
- Explain who you are: Explain the role of the Community Sponsorship Group in supporting the family including what you will and will not do to support the parents and children.
- Help the school understand the child’s needs: Your Lead Sponsor and a few members of your Group will have received some limited information about the children’s education when you were allocated the family. The Resettlement Referral Form (RRF) will give details of the number of years each child has attended school but keep in mind that due to different education systems and refugees often attending part-time education, this may not be an accurate reflection of the child’s educational needs. Groups have found that RRFs have very little information about the children in the family unless the child has faced specific issues or has a diagnosed medical condition.
- Be clear on your empowerment approach: what you are happy to offer? It may be that the school communicates to parents via text messages in English in which case it might be useful for a member of your Group to be able to initially receive these messages as well as the parents/guardians. This is not to act on their behalf but to help parents understand any requests from the school.
- Offer support to the school: there’s a huge number of useful resources for schools preparing to welcome those from a refugee background. Some schools prepare lessons or activities in their school to support other pupils learning about other countries. Useful resources are mentioned at the end of this page
- Remind the school about available funding: funding for education is available through their Local Authority for every child under 16, who arrive through Community Sponsorship.
National Education Union: https://neu.org.uk/refugee
Schools of Sanctuary: https://schools.cityofsanctuary.org/resources/
Salvation Army Homes from Home Resources: https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/schools/community