Sep 2018 | School Improvement Episode 17: Supporting migrant and refugee students

Date: 6 Sep 2018

Source: Teacher Magazine

Hello and thank you for downloading this podcast from Teacher – I’m Jo Earp.

Moving to a new school is an important time in any child’s life. For students from a migrant or refugee background it often means learning a new language or joining outside of the normal transition period, at different points throughout the school year. I’m here at Noble Park Primary School to speak to Principal David Rothstadt about how staff support new students and their families, and create a safe and secure learning environment. Here he is, talking about the school context.

David Rothstadt: We’re in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the City of Greater Dandenong, which is considered one of the most disadvantaged local government areas in Australia and has students in the local government area from, I think, in excess of 100 different nationalities. Our school reflects that, in that we’ve got more than 40 nationalities represented, which then constitutes more than 46/47 language groups at last count. The school itself is just over 100 years old – I think it was 2011 we celebrated our 100th anniversary. In terms of staff profile, because of our classification as a disadvantaged school, we have 50 staff and we have 370 students, and schools of similar size would probably have around 30 staff. But we are fortunate that we get additional funding, so we use that to I guess have quite a different staff profile to that which you’d find in other schools.

So, we have multicultural education aides and they’re representing four different nations but many different language groups – Vietnamese, Khmer, Afghan languages and Burmese languages – they’re the actual multicultural education aides that we employ. They reflect some of our largest cohorts of students from non-English speaking backgrounds, but we also have a significant proportion of students from what people would call the subcontinent. So, I think nine different languages from India, Bangla students from Bangladesh and a lot of students from Sri Lanka. Then a rich mix … name a country and there’s a good chance that they’re here.