Invisible or ignored? The long road to education for migrant girls in England

Access to education is a right that all children are entitled to. But many migrant girls in the UK have been falling through the cracks, and are missing out on the education they deserve – sometimes for months at a time. 

As a charity focused on empowering women, girls and their communities through quality education, we want to take steps towards making sure these girls are no longer invisible or ignored by the government and local authorities. The lack of data​​ on the number of migrant children out of school has made it easier to ignore these children’s rights. The resources needed to address the issue cannot be developed until the question of how many newly arrived migrants are out of education is asked. 

Our latest report investigates the barriers migrant girls face to accessing education when they arrive in England, and what we can do about it. 

Report explores access to education for migrant girls

Through our partnership with the Baytree Centre, we know that for many children, initial access to education is delayed because of complex school application processes. Navigating the school application procedure requires high levels of English, digital literacy, and understanding of the education system in the UK. Many migrant children and their families do not have the support they need to overcome these challenges. 

Even once young migrants have managed to secure a place in school, many do not receive adequate support to be able to thrive in education. Schools often struggle to offer adapted and effective support to new pupils such as one-on-one advice, trauma-informed pedagogy and induction programs. 

This is especially true for girls. Migrant girls who are out of school face different challenges than boys; they are at greater risk of sexual violence and trafficking, and may have domestic or family-care expectations that boys do not face. It is therefore crucial for policies on access to education to adopt a gender-sensitive approach and acknowledge the need for empowering spaces. 

This cannot be done, however, without first declaring a national commitment to mapping services and interim support for out-of-school migrants. Armed with better data collection mechanisms, local authorities, schools, and the government can take the first steps towards shortening the road to education for migrant girls in England. 

To learn more about the barriers to education migrant girls face when arriving in the UK, and what we can do about it, read the report here:

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