Journal article

Inclusive education for students with refugee experience: whole school reform in a South Australian primary school

25 Jan 2012

In recent years, there has been an increase in students with refugee experience in the UK, the US, Europe and Australia.

These students face many barriers to education, and appropriately educating this diverse student population presents many challenges to schools and education departments. We argue that a whole of school approach that includes school structures, culture and pedagogy is needed to provide equity for students with refugee experience. This approach to reform requires that the "structures and programs [that] are designed for a dominant group", and which disadvantage minority groups, are challenged and changed. Implementing such change raises many practical difficulties, and there are few documented examples of good practice.

This prompted the authors’ ethnographic study of a South Australian primary school, with a New Arrivals Program, which positions itself as taking a whole of school approach to educational reform for refugees. This paper reports on the structural changes the school has implemented in its class organisation, staff roles and curriculum. We consider the effects of government funding and neoliberal education policy on these reforms.

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