Working with Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Children in a Less Culturally Diverse Area of the UK: Does a School Staff Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Initiative Promote Self-Efficacy and is it Useful in Practice?
Date: 10 August 2020
University of Exeter
Doctor of Educational Psychology in Educational Child and Community Psychology
Teachers and school staff play an important role in the settlement and happiness of refugee children in the UK, yet the preparation and support offered to school staff when refugee children join their classes is limited. In-role training for school staff is frequently recommended for schools with refugee pupils. This training may be ...
Teachers and school staff play an important role in the settlement and happiness of refugee children in the UK, yet the preparation and support offered to school staff when refugee children join their classes is limited. In-role training for school staff is frequently recommended for schools with refugee pupils. This training may be even more important for teachers in communities lacking diversity, as they may have less experience of teaching multicultural classes and the children may be more isolated from the community and their peers. The aims of this multi-phase study were: (i) to design and evaluate a training programme based on school staff members’ views and experiences, to support staff working with RAS pupils. (ii) to explore the experiences and self-efficacy of teachers related to teaching refugee children, adding the teacher voice to this area of research (iii) to give insight into the influence of community cultural demographics on teachers’ experiences relating to working with RAS pupils In the first phase, qualitative semi-structured interviews (n=6), one joint interview (n=2) and a focus group (n=5) were used to investigate the experiences of teachers in both diverse and less diverse areas of the UK. Thematic Analysis was used to analyse the findings, which indicated three prevalent themes in the experiences of teachers teaching refugee children including; (i) cultural competence, (ii) empathic competence (iii) language as a barrier and (iv) factors beyond teacher control. In the second phase, areas to include in the design of the training programme were identified from the interviews and focus groups. The findings indicated staff would find the following areas useful to be included in training: (i) knowing background information, (ii) understanding the impacts of trauma, (iii) strategies and examples, (iv) cultural competence, (v) working with EAL pupils and (vi) positive experiences. These areas were used to inform the design of a training programme for school staff working with refugee children in less diverse areas of the UK. The training was piloted, including delivery to five primary schools and two ‘open’ sessions in a neutral location. In the third phase, the training was evaluated by semi-structured interviews with a sample of the training participants (N=7). Overall, participants felt the training was useful and supported them to increase their self-efficacy regarding working with refugee pupils. The findings from all phases of the project, the implications for teachers working with RAS pupils in the future, and the implications for educational psychology practice are discussed.
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