Critical inquiry into the education for refugee and migrant pupils: the construction of primary teachers' practices in one city in Scotland
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date05/07/2020
Schools and teachers play key roles in promoting positive re-settlement outcomes for refugees and migrants. As such, this requires schools and teachers to identify and respond to their diverse linguistic, cultural and emotional needs (Pastoor, 2015; Block et al., 2015; Hek, 2005). As a result, teacher roles can stem beyond their traditional expectations when presented with refugee and migrant pupils (Skovdal & Campbell, 2015). With the increasing diversity of the Scottish population, it is essential for teachers to promote inclusive and critical multicultural practices, however it is not always clear how these practices are achieved. Understanding teachers’ pedagogies is key, among other factors, in locating how schools are minimising minority group disadvantages. This study aims to explore the practices teachers are utilising across four schools in one city in Scotland to promote the integration of refugees and migrants. This research utilised a nested case study design, involving school observations and interviews with a total of 12 teachers and head teachers in four primary schools. Additionally, a policy review was conducted to understand the various educational policies that may have an influence on teachers’ practices. This is followed by an interview with a senior local authority (LA) officer. An inductive approach informed by social justice and critical education frameworks was used to underpin the research design and analyses. The findings of the study reveal a majority of the teachers across the study are ill-equipped with conceptual frameworks and practices to support the integration and learning of refugee and migrants in the classroom. Teachers are cautious and sensitive about recognising pupils’ cultural backgrounds often resulting in inadvertent homogenisation of diverse pupils. Instead, teachers focus on providing English language support or acknowledging the presence of different faiths and beliefs. The main barriers exposed through the findings include teachers’ cultural knowledge and need for raising awareness, improving teacher confidence and the provision of guidance and training for supporting refugee and migrant pupils. The findings of this study respond to the gaps in the literature and compare the characteristics identified across schools. Through teachers’ voices, the challenges and complexities of teaching refugee and migrant pupils are identified and discussed.