Supporting schools to create an inclusive environment for refugee students

Karen Block*, Suzanne Cross, Elisha Riggs, Lisa Gibbs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


In a context of increasing numbers of refugees and asylum seekers globally, recognition of the importance of the school environment for promoting successful settlement outcomes and inclusion for refugee-background young people is growing. Yet schools may be poorly equipped to recognise and respond to the multiple challenges faced by children and young people who must learn a new language while grappling with unfamiliar educational and social systems. Refugee-background students often have minimal or significantly disrupted formal education prior to arrival in their new country. Young people, and sometimes their families, may lack literacy in first languages and many are coping with the impacts of trauma associated with forced displacement. Evidence for effective interventions in schools that promote an inclusive learning environment is scarce. This paper presents the results of an evaluation of the School Support Programme operating in schools in Victoria, Australia. The programme is provided to networks of schools in a region and facilitates partnerships between schools and agencies and provides a holistic model for a whole-school approach focused on the learning, social and emotional needs of refugee-background students. The evaluation concluded that the programme provides an appropriate and feasible model that supports the capacity of schools to provide an inclusive education for this group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1337-1355
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number12
Early online date4 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank all those who participated in this study. The evaluation was funded by The Victorian Foundation for the Survivors of Torture and the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The authors were also supported by the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Well-being Programme. At the time of preparing this manuscript, Elisha Riggs was at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, which is supported by the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Support Programme.


  • inclusive education
  • refugee education
  • schooling
  • whole-school approach
  • mental-health
  • education
  • children


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