Asylum seekers and refugees

Help to support asylum seekers and refugees in your setting.

Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS) offer advice and guidance for teachers of asylum-seeking and refugee children. They fall into 3 categories:

Asylum seekers

Children and their families who have made an asylum application. This includes Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC), who arrive in the country with no parent carer.

Unaccompanied asylum seekers

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC), are children arriving in the country with no parent or guardian. They are all under the care of the Virtual School.


Children and their families who have been granted ‘leave to remain’.

These children will more than likely come to school suffering the effects of trauma, loss, separation and change and would have experienced disrupted or no schooling. It is therefore crucial that schools work closely with other involved agencies to carefully develop an induction programme which is centred around the child and informed by the detailed background information that teachers gather about the pupil.

Schools should apply good English as an Additional Language (EAL) practice to ensure children are supported in their language acquisition. Equally important would be consideration given to pastoral care and sensitive curriculum planning.

The Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS) team run a support network for schools working with refugee and asylum-seeking pupils. This includes regular online meetings where schools can share best practice, discuss common challenges and hear from other professionals working to support children.

EMTAS also have a number of ethnic minority achievement (EMA) bilingual liaison officers who provide support when working with refugee children from specific countries.  Currently this includes:

  • Pashto and Dari speakers, working with Afghan families.
  • Ukrainian and Russian speakers, working with Ukrainian families.

In addition to liaison with parents and some limited in-school support for individual pupils, schools can also request advice, guidance and training on the specific cultural considerations for working with children from these two countries.

Supporting Ukrainian refugees in school

It is easy to feel anxious about the responsibility of supporting refugee pupils in school. Whatever their past experiences, these students are likely to be attending classes not knowing anyone and without anyone speaking their own language. Transitions can be challenging for all pupils, and for children from refugee families, the challenge of fitting in is likely to be most acute.

It is important to remember that when welcoming refugees the priority for both teachers and other school staff is the same as for all new children; to make them feel welcome, to provide support, to encourage friendships, and make sensitive assessments about their strengths and needs.

Useful links

The Bell Foundation website provides advice and guidance on supporting the needs of refugees. Their website is particularly useful, although you may need to register to access the materials. It is a quick, easy process and is free of charge. Materials cover:

  • Welcoming refugee and asylum seeking learners
  • Welcoming Refugee Children: Advice and Guidance for Schools 1, 2 and 3

The Refugee Week website is helpful in providing resources to promote empathy among peers.

Book list

A list from The City of York Educational Psychology Service, a dual language booklist (Ukrainian-English) containing books that can be used with young children. The following books can be purchased as dual language Ukrainian-English editions from stores such as Amazon, Waterstones and WH Smith:

  • Amanda’s Dream, Admont (2020). ISBN: 9781525939549
  • The Wheels: The Friendship Race, Nusinsky (2020). ISBN: 9781525933561
  • Sweet Dreams, My Love, Admont (2021). ISBN: 9781525946813
  • Boxer and Brandon, Nusinsky (2020). ISBN: 978-1525920752
  • I Love to Help, Admont (2017). ISBN: 978-1525905773
  • I Love to Brush My Teeth, Admont (2016). ISBN: 9781772682281
  • Being a Superhero, Shmuilov (2020). ISBN: 978-1525932373
  • Am I Small? (picture book), Winterberg (2014). ISBN: 978-1494874018
  • I Love Autumn, Admont (2020). ISBN: 978-1525933196
  • I Love Winter, Admont (2021). ISBN: 978-1525947179
  • Egbert Turns Red (picture book), Winterberg (2021). ISBN: 9781517107383
  • In Here, Out There (picture book), Winterberg (2015). ISBN: 9781517106959
  • I Love to Share, Admont (2020). ISBN: 978-1525943850
  • I Love to Keep my Room Clean, Admont (2021). ISBN: 9781525949937
  • Dylan’s Birthday Present, Dias de Oliveira Santos (2020). ISBN: 9781952451973
  • Jojo’s Easter Hunt, Lalgudi (2014). ISBN: 1508969787
  • Sleep Tight, Little Wolf, Renz (2015). ISBN: 9783739926964
  • Bedtime Fairy Tales, Bagdasaryan (2017). ISBN: 978-1548234096
  • Who Lives in the Wood?, Chatty Parrot (2020). ISBN: 979-8554303197
  • English-Ukrainian & Ukrainian-English One-to-One Dictionary (exam-suitable): (2nd edition), Volobuyeva (2018). ISBN: 978-1912826025

With grateful acknowledgements to The City of York Council Educational Psychology Service, Counterpoint Arts, and The Bell Foundation.

Support and advice

See more information about Meeting the needs of new arrivals.

For more assistance, contact EMTAS.