A guest post from Dolphin School, Hurst.
Our school’s refugee journey
As refugees continue to journey across the world and we hear so many stories of those arriving in Europe, our school decided to journey too. Throughout this year children from Dolphin School in Hurst, Berkshire, explored the movement of people, the crisis and conflicts they are fleeing and questioned our role. We have welcomed some extraordinary visitors to help us understand life as a refugee, the policies countries put in place, the experience of a refugee camp, our human rights and responsibilities and how we can show our solidarity with fellow human beings leaving behind their homelands.
Dolphin head teacher, Tom Lewis, has wanted to address the narrative on refugees ever since his first school assembly which explored the lives of refugees, believing that: ‘Many children are exposed to the news on a daily basis; they know there are conflicts taking place displacing millions of people some of whom are trying to find a life in Europe but these topics are difficult to digest and understand.’ This year through drama, assemblies, special visitors and our new subject Earth Studies, children have explored all angles of the current refugee situation, looking at faiths and beliefs, conflict and migration from ancient times to modern day.
The Home Secretary and local MP Theresa May came to answer some heartfelt questions which enabled the children to feel empowered and involved. During a unit exploring Activism, Dolphin children were asked to write to their MP about subjects close to their heart and many chose the refugee crisis in Europe. Karina in Year Six sent a letter about the situation in Syria concluding:
“Even though we live in a small house, we would volunteer to house a family or individual refugees. I would not mind sharing my room, teaching English to a Syrian child or helping in any other possible way.”
Barbara Andrea, a Water Engineer for Action Contre La Faim and Dolphin mother, joined us for World Water Day and helped us understand life at the front line in refugee camps around the world. The school community had an evening with a North Korean human rights activist and a former British Ambassador to the DPRK, to understand the dilemmas of leaving one’s homeland and why it might happen. Friend of the school Ruth Curtis-Talbot and founder of Refugee Relief Slough and Maidenhead, inspired the Dolphin community to join forces with her and other local schools to collect items for Care4Calais. Through a video diary the children’s head teacher was able to show first-hand what life is like in the Calais camps and why the people he met left their homes and want to come to Britain.
This summer the school is also very proud to be returning to the Edinburgh Fringe with a devised piece about the experiences of displaced people. Drama teacher Judy Seall has now turned this into a new work, ‘Tales from the Tent’, and the company will be raising money at the end of every performance by collecting funds for Refugee Relief.
It has been a moving journey and getting involved has been such an important experience for all of us. We encourage schools to give children the opportunity to understand our planet’s refugee crisis; young people naturally identify with their counterparts around the world and truly want to understand and help which gives us much hope for the future.