Mirabooka Primary School prepared for refugee students

WITH an expected surge in refugees coming to Perth, Mirrabooka Primary School principal Anthony Middleton says the school is prepared for the intake of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

A Syrian refugee family of five, including three school-aged children, moved to the northern suburbs in November and is being assisted by the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre in Mirrabooka.

The centre will register the children for primary school for Term 1 in 2016, with the possibility of them going to Mirrabooka PS.

Mr Middleton said he was not aware of the children attending the school next year, but was prepared if they did.

“The school has been developing and implementing |programs catering to the needs of these students and is well placed to accept and work with Syrian refugees and their families,” he said.

“The school has, among its staff, a strong knowledge base and expertise to accommodate students’ needs, having in the past accepted many refugees from Vietnam; the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire; Sudan, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and most recently Myanmar.”

Mr Middleton said of 303 students, Mirrabooka PS catered for about 40 varying ethnicities, with the number constantly changing as students arrived throughout the school year.

“Mirrabooka PS houses mainstream classes and intensive English classes catering for students who speak English as an additional language,” he said.

“The Intensive English Centre is a Commonwealth-funded program targeting students who commence their schooling in Australia with minimal or no English speaking skills. The majority are newly arrived (migrants, refugees, 457 visa holders or full fee-paying students) but some are also born in Australia.”

Mr Middleton said the biggest challenge facing children from war-torn countries varied, but could include trauma as a result of ongoing conflict.

“It could also include displacement and loss of home and family, persecution because of religious beliefs, disruption to education or having received no education, fleeing their home country then having to survive life in a refugee camp, to arriving in a new and very foreign country in which they may have had no choice,” he said.

“In the new country there is worry and stress about family members who may have been left behind or whose whereabouts are unknown.

“Children and parents may not display signs of trauma as they undergo the settlement process.

“This comes later as they begin to settle and feel secure in the new environment.”