Family ESOL at Rosshall Academy
Published on 23-Jun-2023
On World Refugee Day, parents with children at Rosshall Academy gathered at the school for a chance to meet new friends and practice their English language skills.
By Shona McCallum, Refugee Festival Scotland volunteer
Stephanie McKenna is a teacher at Rosshall Academy on the Southside of Glasgow. She explained that for around 15% of pupils at the high school, English is an additional language. The majority of these pupils have experience of the refugee and asylum systems. Therefore, the school places an important emphasis on language teaching and linguistic and cultural inclusion.
Rosshall Academy already hosts a weekly ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) class for parents in the school’s library. This service is so important, since English classes for those new to the country play a vital role in supporting integration. However, finding the time to attend these classes can be challenging, especially for parents with young children or other caring commitments.
As part of Refugee Festival Scotland, the school hosted an informal Family ESOL gathering where parents with young children could practice their English. The event was supported by Glasgow Life. Some former pupils who had recently completed their time at the school, and who speak Kurdish or Arabic, came along to help. There was also a creche where younger children were looked after by pupils.
The event was very well attended and friendly. Mrs McKenna covered how to fill out the free school meal form online. All children in the asylum system are entitled to free school meals. But the form that must be completed in order to claim them can be challenging, especially for those who are learning English.
One parent I spoke to joked that it felt strange to be going back to school to learn English, since he qualified as a civil engineer back home. But he added that the ESOL class was so helpful, and the school was such a welcoming space. He also told me how his son aspires to study medicine, and how hopeful he is that education will help him achieve this goal. It was a wonderful reminder of the hope we can find in younger generations.
It was heartening to see so many young people supporting their parents to learn a new language and get to know their communities and support networks. Especially since their parents went through so much to bring their children to safety in Scotland.