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Leeds City College’s Journey with an Unaccompanied Child

In the 2022/23 academic year, staff at Leeds City College grew their understanding of the challenges affecting unaccompanied children by taking training from the Refugee Youth Service.

Across Leeds City College, we provide education and support to over 20,000 students a year. Approximately 2,000 of those students are enrolled onto ESOL courses (English for Speakers of Other Languages). It is within the campuses which provide this provision where we often see the most vulnerable learners – those who are isolated, have experienced significant trauma, abuse and mental health issues, as a result of entering in to the country as refugee or asylum seekers.
It was important that the staff working within these provisions felt equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence that was essential in supporting this cohort of students; particularly as Education may be the only service they are known to.
On receipt of receiving communication from Refugee Youth Service which outlined the details of the “Journey with an Unaccompanied Child to the UK” course, two face to face sessions were arranged with Roseanna, targeting staff working within our ESOL provisions: mainly Enfield and North Street campuses. The campuses worked with young people, age 16-19 and adults (19+). We arranged these sessions as part of staff development week to ensure we could reach a high volume of people.
Roseanna was able to offer spaces for 30 staff members at each site, which allowed us to extend this offer to staff members from our Sixth Form provision who also had high numbers of refugees and asylum seekers on enrolment.
In addition to this, Roseanna advised that she was also able to offer a bespoke online session to our Front of House (reception) and catering staff, who would likely encounter this student group on a regular basis.
Roseanna was extremely accommodating to our service need and was able to adapt the course content so that it was relevant to staff members working  within Further Education.
All staff who attended the training found it extremely thought provoking and emotive, particularly the Front of House staff who would not usually have the opportunity to attend specialist training. The realisation from this session was that the staff members were able to recognise just how crucial that first encounter with a UK education provider is for a refugee or asylum seeker. A positive or negative experience could be life changing, which is why it is so crucial for staff in these roles to have this training.
Curriculum and Support staff who attended the face to face sessions felt the exercise  delivered around how to make the college environment more welcome and inclusive of refugees and asylum seekers was particularly valuable and insightful. The advice which was given to support the college in being more trauma informed was very practical and simple to implement.
The real life case studies which were discussed really brought the content to life and allowed delegates to experience some of the emotion that the individuals went through on their journey; albeit extremely emotive. However, it was a valuable and necessary insight to have in order to implement change to college practice.
Learn more about the ‘Journey with an Unaccompanied Child’ Training courses here.