Top tips and resources for setting up an effective buddy system in schools to support refugee and asylum-seeking students in the UK.
Joining a new school can be incredibly daunting. Having an effective and well-run buddy system can ease the process of settling into school, not only for refugees and asylum seekers, but for all children moving schools.
Despite the buddy system being one the most effective ways of helping new arrivals feel safe and supported in new environments, many schools still do not have a good system in place. The difficulty is often around how to get it up and running, ensuring that schools are not left scrambling for students they think might make good buddies. This ad hoc approach is flawed and the cracks soon show, as the pairing disintegrates and the new arrival is left with a buddy who does not fully understand the role and responsibilities involved.
Buddy systems succeed when the candidates are carefully selected and choose to take up the role of their own accord. In addition to this, the selection process should be followed by training, which is explicit and enables the buddy to apply their skills and knowledge in welcoming children to the school. As we well know, students new to the UK face many challenges as they try to adapt to a new school. An effective buddy system should be an integral part of any school's efforts to welcome new pupils.
The buddy system is part of the IRC’s Healing Classrooms programme, designed to help teachers and schools best support newly arrived refugee students.
You can view all the IRC resources designed to establish an effective buddy programme below. Good Luck!
- Being a Buddy Application Form for students to complete to register their interest in becoming buddies.
- Being a Buddy Training Slides is a resource for teachers to use when training students to become buddies to newcomers.
- Being a Buddy Student Booklet is for students to use during the sessions and works in tandem with Being a Buddy Training Slides.
About the IRC’s Healing Classrooms:
The IRC’s Healing Classrooms programme was launched in the UK in May 2022. We offer free training for teachers and support staff that focuses on how to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for refugee children. Based on 40 years of education in emergencies experience and a decade of research and field testing, the Healing Classrooms programme offers children a safe and predictable place to learn and cope with the consequences of conflict and displacement.
Find out more about the IRC’s Healing Classrooms.