Supporting Refugee Children in 21st Century Britain - A compendium of essential information

Author(s) Rutter, J.
Publisher Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books
Published 2003
ISBN 1858562929
Reviewed by Jane Andrews
University of Bristol
Review published 1 December 2004

This compendium is a new version of a book published in 2001 which has been revised to take account of changes in policy and practice arising from the Race Relations Amendment Act (2000), which came into force in 2002, and the new Asylum Act. The purpose and intended audience of the book remain the same however, which is to provide guidance and a source of reference for those working with and supporting the children of refugees and asylum seekers.

The book is called a ‘compendium’ and as such is divided very clearly into sections which can be searched for specific information and advice. There are three main parts entitled “Being a refugee in the UK”, “Refugees in schools” and “Refugee groups in the UK”. The first two parts describe good practice in various areas such as, for instance, chapter 6: “A Warm Welcome: Admission and Induction” and chapter 10: “Challenging racism and xenophobia in schools”. The chapters provide plentiful advice in the form of recommendations for both policy and practice and examples of good practice are presented as case studies which are highlighted in text boxes. Each chapter ends with a bibliography listing relevant reading, training and video packs and documents.

The third part of the book provides background information on the refugee groups which are represented in the UK (50 are listed); these are listed either by country of origin such as Burundi and Ukraine or by group, such as Eastern European Roma and The Armenians. The information for each section covers issues such as ethnic groups, languages, names, religion, education system, economy, a chronology of events, statistics of refugees in UK and a bibliography (including websites where relevant). This information is selected and presented so that common misconceptions of particular groups are challenged and that more humane understandings of the experiences different groups can be considered alongside, for instance, the UK tabloid press’ treatment of refugee groups.

At the end of the book, there are additional resources in the form of a list of terms (including those used in education, e.g. EMAG for ‘ethnic minority achievement grant’ and in law, e.g. ELR ‘exceptional leave to remain’), a bibliography, a list of useful websites, a list of publishers and suppliers of bilingual books and a contact list for useful organisations. These final sections are in keeping with the whole approach of the book which is to collate a variety of up-to-date and invaluable sources of information which are either useful in their own right or serve to point the way for readers who want to pursue any areas in more depth.

The book achieves its purpose very comprehensively and effectively and it must surely be an invaluable resource on the bookshelf of nursery workers, teachers, teacher trainers, and LEA staff who find themselves in the position of supporting refugee children and their families.