Refugee Week: helping students understand the situation

Refugee Week logo

This week is an important time for Britain. Not only because thousands of people will be making the decision whether to remain in, or to leave the EU, but because it’s also Refugee Week; a hugely significant event which takes place across the world, in collaboration with World Refugee Day (20 June).

The week-long event aims to encourage a better understanding amongst communities, combat negative perceptions and raise awareness of the stark realities that refugees face.

The current Syrian crisis is possibly one of the greatest challenges we are currently trying to address; countries and governments all over the world are being called upon to provide aid, support and asylum for more than 4.5 million refugees, and 13.5 million people that still reside in Syria.

Worldwide, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), states there are over 63 million refugees having to uproot their families, or flee from conflict. Despite a number of reports and stories in the news, there is still a need to educate and raise awareness of what is really going on.

With awareness being one of the main intentions of Refugee Week, it needs to be explored and understood by people of all ages. While adults may have a better indication of the true extent of what is going on in the world, it certainly doesn’t mean that we should shield our children from it. Events like Refugee Week give schools and teachers the opportunity to discuss the subject with students in a safe and sensitive environment, really helping them to recognise why people around the world are being forced to leave their homes in search of somewhere free from danger.

The event website itself has a whole host of educational resources that teachers can use in the classroom, including videos, lesson plans and useful websites. But in addition to this, there are many other charities and organisations offering free tools and resources for lessons, which teachers should consider using:

  • Oxfam has a dedicated page for school resources which will help students learn about the crisis in Syria, who is affected, and how young people in the UK can respond. It includes teachers’ notes, presentations, lesson plans and a guide for young people to take their own action
  • The resources section on TES also has a mix of free and paid-for content for teachers helping them teach sensitive topics, using both fictional and factual content relating to the refugee crisis
  • Not-for-profit education provider, TrueTube, has launched a short film to help young people understand the refugee crisis. Free for teachers, the video allows them to build a discussion with students, help them look at what’s happening from a number of different perspectives, and address any misconceptions students might have
  • British Red Cross has designed a teaching resource to help young people gain a better understanding of the humanitarian impact of the refugee crisis.It includes a series of activities for 11-14 year olds, which also supports elements of the English curriculum.


Using resources and supporting campaigns like Refugee Week are the ideal platform to further educate students and raise awareness of difficult topics. It’s important for students to be acutely aware of crises happening around the world, in order to be able to empathise, understand and form opinions of how they might be able to help both now, and in the future.

Refugee Week: helping students understand the situation was last modified: June 22nd, 2016 by Jasmin De Vivo

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