Councils should help Ukrainian pupils attend school as soon as possible – Zahawi

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said schools should ignore class size limits to ensure refugee pupils can access school places.

01 April 2022

The Education Secretary has said that councils should work with newly arrived Ukrainian families to ensure children can attend school as soon as possible, including by going above published admission numbers or exceeding infant class sizes where necessary.

In a letter to councils published on Friday, Nadhim Zahawi said that all children arriving under the Homes for Ukraine and Ukraine Family schemes have the right to education whilst in the UK.

“I know from my own experience as an 11-year-old that the best place for all children to be educated is in schools and that attending school is vital to help newly arrived children integrate as quickly as possible into the communities in which they are living,” he said.

He added that the Government expected that if there were school places in the local area, even if not in the “immediate vicinity” of a family’s home, “the local authority will work with families arriving from Ukraine to enable the children to attend school as soon as possible”.

He said that schools should be flexible when it came to class size limits.

“Local authorities should be looking to provide places and, where necessary, use the flexibilities to admit above published admission number (PAN) and exceed the infant class size limit, as well as using the in-year Fair Access Protocol,” he said.

He added that a team at the Department for Education is dedicated to helping newly arrived Ukrainian pupils.

Last month, Mr Zahawi announced that online classroom Oak National Academy would provide auto-translated versions of its lessons in Ukrainian and Russian to help refugee pupils access education.

Mr Zahawi said in the letter that he was “extremely grateful for the warm welcome many local authorities have given to the families who arrived from Afghanistan and Hong Kong” and thanked them for their “tremendous support” in helping Ukrainian families settle in the UK.

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