‘Making space for refugee education: routes towards meaningful inclusion for refugee teenagers in England’

The Department of Education is delighted to welcome to its Public Seminar Series Dr Joanna McIntyre, Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham.

Social injustice is felt most keenly when ‘participatory parity’ (Fraser) is dependent upon material and human resources to which marginalized groups, such as refugees, have limited access. There is, therefore, an urgent need, to do better for the most disenfranchised.

Meaningful inclusive models of education for are vital in any reconceptualization of society in a post-pandemic world, where, across the globe, ‘ordinary life’ (Kohli) for refugee teenagers during and following lockdown changed as it did for all young people.
I will draw on research into educational provision for refugees (conducted before the pandemic) as we consider how societies can provide a more inclusive model of education for new arrivals who are trying to navigate ways of building meaningful futures in their new context.

The local context for the research evidence is England, but the evidence and arguments speak to other international resettlement contexts. I outline a theoretical model for the inclusion of refugees in education which has been shaped by practitioners (McIntyre and Abrams 2021). Kohli’s theory of ‘resumption of ordinary life’, and Fraser’s ‘participatory parity’ underpin the model.

The emerging theoretical principles and practical actions can inform ongoing and more just practices as illustrated through the case of a bespoke educational provision for refugees which operationalised the theorised model. The examples demonstrate how we can develop purposeful educational opportunities for succeeding, imbuing in new arrivals a sense of safety and the beginnings of social belonging contributing towards present and future inclusion and participation in their new society.