• Learning to hope and hoping to learn: a critical examination of young refugees and formal education in the UK.

      Williams, Simon; Council of Europe (Council of Europe, 2018-12)
      This chapter examines the multi-dimensional complexities affecting refugee children’s identities and aspirations in the UK whilst navigating the education system. It debates the current language used around new arrivals and how they are labelled with a negative public perception that is endorsed by the media and politicians, to instil moral panic for political gain. It will critically analyse the idea of hope and the affect it has on identity and wellbeing. In particular, the argument is made that refugee children and their families have hope for their new futures and often that hope is crushed, when it should be nurtured. It questions whether the current education system helps develop hope and inclusion for new arrivals or enforces the media and political stereotyping, and what role Youth and Community work plays in supporting, developing and nurturing hope in a hopeless environment. This chapter critically examines the current definitions of refugees examining both the legal and social definition of refugees and how these impact on identities. It will argue that labelling provides a barrier to full engagement and integration of new arrivals in their new societies, schools and social spaces. It will debate about integration through education and how this impacts on the complexities of new arrivals. It will debate that a racist society exists and continues to provide a judgement basis for new arrivals and their treatment. It will briefly cover ‘Rights’ to education and how the idea of hope is embedded in these rights, but yet are contested by policy, marketization of schools and detention centres. It will demonstrate how schools play a vital role in young people’s lives, but also in the role of families as places of hope, by provide social networking, education and places of cultural learning. It will then debate how this is experienced by new arrivals and if schools encourage cohesion or assimilation. It will debate the ability of schools to cope, in current circumstances and in light of marketization, with new arrivals and how this has affected schools abilities to cope with a diverse intake of students and different times of the year. The chapter offers a critique of the injustice for new arrivals both within macro and micro structural levels of education. It considers the impact of Orientalism and the development of the ‘other’ which is to be used in media and political rhetoric; Colonialism which continues to define refugees' identities today and Structuration as a form of enabling hope. However these will be contrasted with the power of individuals in creating change to develop hope and the barriers that are faced by new arrivals. It argues that in most cases informal education is much better at helping new arrivals learn than formal education and the great need for change at national, social policy, organisational and practice levels. The later part of the chapter will be a critical examination of the skills of youth and community workers and how they can respond to issues raised in the chapter, using informal education to develop and enhance hope with new arrivals. It will critically examine issues such as language barriers; safety and the effect on building relationships; place and its relationship with identity; and radical working with new arrivals debating that Youth and Community Workers need to be involved on all levels: Face to face, management, local and national policy making; to create spaces of hope for new arrivals. The chapter will use the voice of young people in current academic literature and experience of my own work with new arrivals in Derby, UK. The conclusion is that there must be a radical approach taken by youth and community workers, to provide critical space, for voices to be heard, for new arrivals to be recognised as valuable not as trouble makers and leading to creative change