New Scots: refugee integration strategy 2018 to 2022

The New Scots refugee integration strategy sets out an approach to support the vision of a welcoming Scotland.


" Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit."

Article 26 (1) Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Children and young people

Education is devolved to the Scottish Government, and Scotland has its own curriculum framework and distinctive school qualifications. It is the right of every child of school age to be provided with a school education, [67] and local authorities must make available a mandatory amount of early learning and childcare for pre-school children in their area. [68] These rights belong to all children and young people, including those who are refugees and asylum seekers.

Diversity and equality are at the heart of policies that underpin school education such as: Curriculum for Excellence; [69] Additional Support for Learning; [70] the Scottish Attainment Challenge; [71] Getting it Right for Every Child; [72] and Developing the Young Workforce. [73] These policies enable children and young people to get the support they need to achieve their full potential. For example, the Additional Support for Learning framework entitles children and young people, who do not speak English, to support to help them overcome barriers to learning in school. Curriculum for Excellence provides a framework for teachers to provide learning in the ways which best meet the needs of individual children, ensuring there remains a focus on development and wellbeing of children, as well as academic achievement.

The Scottish Government and local authorities are committed to delivering excellence and equity in Scottish education through a focus on raising attainment for all children and young people, and closing the gap in attainment between Scotland's least and most disadvantaged young people. The 2017 National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan [74] is designed to ensure children and young people develop a broad range of skills and capacities, while supporting them to thrive, regardless of their social circumstances or additional needs. The Attainment Scotland Fund [75] provides targeted funding of £750 million over the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament to children and young people living in poverty. It is intended to have a significant impact on the lives of children and young people affected by poverty, including refugee and asylum seeking children.

Post-school education

The Scottish Government's vision for all adults is that:

"By 2020, Scotland's society and economy will be stronger because more of its adults are able to read, write and use numbers effectively, in order to handle information, communicate with others, express ideas and opinions, make decisions and solve problems, as family members, workers, citizens and lifelong learners." [76]

Refugees are entitled to access further and higher education on the same basis as anyone legally resident in Scotland. Unlike the rest of the UK, refugees and people with humanitarian protection status, who meet the residency criteria laid out in legislation, [77] can apply to have tuition fees paid by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland, if they are studying full time for a first degree or equivalent.

The Scottish Funding Council ( SFC) waives fees for asylum seekers attending college to study part-time or non-advanced courses. [78] This also applies to full or part-time English for Speakers of Other Languages ( ESOL) courses. There is no legal restriction on asylum seekers accessing higher education. If they meet the academic requirements, they can be offered places to study. However, they will need to support themselves financially or secure a scholarship or bursary, as they are not eligible to apply for student support.

Refugees and asylum seekers can study at postgraduate level. Refugees and students with humanitarian protection status, who meet the residency criteria, can apply for student support. However, asylum seekers will need to be able to support themselves financially or secure a scholarship or bursary to cover the costs of tuition and living expenses.

A number of universities across Scotland have offered scholarships and worked with refugee and asylum seeking students to enable them to take up places. Guidance for universities on providing asylum seekers and refugees with access to higher education was published in 2016. [79]

Community Learning and Development ( CLD) is an important part of the education sector in Scotland. CLD supports primarily disadvantaged or vulnerable groups and individuals of all ages to engage in learning, with a focus on bringing about change in their lives and communities. It is a distinctive process of engagement and support, with a learning content that is negotiated with learners. CLD activities are delivered by a wide range of organisations in the public and third sectors, across a range of activities such as youth work, community development, family and adult learning, adult literacy and ESOL. The Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013 [80] place a duty on local authorities to secure the delivery of CLD in their area, working with other CLD providers and communities.

Key issues identified through New Scots engagement

A great deal of feedback was received during the New Scots engagement that took place during Summer 2017, and a more detailed analysis of this will be published in 2018. However, some of the broad themes raised, which are relevant to education, include:

1. Access to information on entitlement and support for education needs to be continually promoted and shared to ensure that learners and parents or guardians understand their rights and responsibilities.

2. Suitable support for young people, particularly those between 16 and 18 years of age, but more broadly for 15 to 20 year olds, is required, so that they can access the education opportunities, and support they need to reach their potential and go on to future success. Issues raised included support for pupils with no literacy or English language skills to enable access to the full curriculum, as soon as possible after starting in a school.

3. Recognition of prior qualifications is needed to enable people to make use of their skills or progress into the next stage of their education.

Objectives and Actions

Objectives and actions for each theme contribute to the overarching New Scots outcomes. New Scots is designed to be a dynamic strategy, which is able to adapt to new and emerging issues. New actions will be developed during implementation. The following initial actions set out the work related to education which will be progressed in the first instance:

New Scots Outcome

Objective: what we want to achieve

Action: what we will do

2. Refugees and asylum seekers understand their rights, responsibilities and entitlements, and are able to exercise them to pursue full and independent lives.

Young refugees and asylum seekers (and their parents, carers and guardians) are aware of, and understand the options available to them, in terms of learning, education opportunities and funding support.

Continue to promote existing information on education entitlement and support to refugees and asylum seekers.

Identify funding support to access further and higher education, and promote those sources to young refugees and asylum seekers, and those working with them.

Explore and promote wider achievement and alternative pathways with the CLD, further and higher education sectors and other partners.

3. Refugees and asylum seekers are able to access well-coordinated services, which recognise and meet their rights and needs.

All staff within education and learning settings are able to effectively communicate with refugees and asylum seekers.

Share examples of adapting or changing service communication to better meet the needs of refugees and asylum seekers, by identifying and promoting informal activity that helps to raise awareness of best practice when working with refugees and asylum seekers.

Identify and promote formal activity and training programmes that support frontline staff in public services to communicate with people, whose first language is not English.

Embed a range of activity into existing training programmes or professional development activity to ensure accurate information on education is shared.

4. Policy, strategic planning and legislation, which have an impact on refugees and asylum seekers, are informed by their rights, needs and aspirations.

The recognition of qualifications enables refugees to progress on to further learning or into employment.

Support development of a model for a recognition and accreditation process to identify prior qualifications, skills and learning, and develop sector specific employment pathways.


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