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Refuge for Refugees

This year, we increased our awareness of the refugee crisis, especially in Syria.  This has involved a cross-curricular approach through our learning with English, Dance & Design Technology.  During Year 5&6 we have read many books during reading group that relate to refugees, including After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross, Hidden by Miriam Halahmy and most recently our class read: Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird.  Combined with work we have done with Empathy Lab and Mrs Yates, we have really been given the opportunity to ‘step inside someone else’s shoes’ and share empathy for refugees. One of our pupils, Lewis, was so moved by reading about refugees that he carried out an independent project and collected over 200 shoes for refugees in Syria through the Step in My Shoes Project.  He is even still collecting shoes at local orienteering events with his local club!

When the Year 5&6 pupils were thinking about ideas for their You Dance performance, there was a unanimous decision to create a dance around the theme of Refuge for Refugees (at Jack’s suggestion). Led by Mrs Hepworth, they created a stunning dance which was performed to over 1500 people at the Sand’s Centre in Carlisle. Each pupil designed and made an exquisite t-shirt which reflected the items a refugee might take with them when forced to flee their homes.  This built on learning in English and P4C with Mrs Yates.  Earlier in the term, Mohammed, a refugee from Syria visited school through e-credit funding from the Global Learning Programme(GLP) with Global Link. This was such a powerful visit and all the children were involved and even the parents got to meet Mohammed and ask questions too!  All the staff had a CPD session afterwards with Antony from Global Link about teaching about refugee issues.  We attracted a lot of media attention and Border TV came to film us performing our dance for Mohammed and our class sessions with him.

We also had a visit by Christian Aid as part of Christian Aid Week to help us learn all about their #changethestory campaign – we loved playing the fantastic Ludo game which helped us to imagine what it would be like for a refugee seeking refuge to a safe place.

We have carried all this work into our writing during the summer term.  We have written news reports from a refugee camp, a dance review and we are all currently working on extended stories inspired by Welcome to Nowhere.  We’ve also been writing letters to refugees recently arrived in our own county of Cumbria.

For our news report, we did a role play as characters from a refugee camp and journalists. We created plausible characters in groups then hot-seated each other to obtain quotes for our news articles. We then created our news articles with direct speech and indirect speech, with some journalistic narration!  

For our dance reviews, we learnt about the stylistic features of persuasion (we wanted our reviews to really persuade people to come and see the dance).  We explored some examples of real dance reviews from the New York Times and identified persuasive features such as exaggeration, alliteration, imagery, emotional vocab, personal pronouns and groups of three words.  We worked in our dance groups to create our written reviews on the laptop, really letting ourselves go with description and exaggeration, with some of us even imagining the dance had been on Broadway!


For our stories, we are continuing to work hard to include a balance of three aspects of creative writing: action through narration and speech, internal reflection by the main character and description to provide a visual image for the reader.  Reading Welcome to Nowhere has helped us more than ever to see how important it is to have shifts in formality to give the reader the ‘full surround’ experience! 

What next?  Some of our Year 6s are very much looking forward to attending a global philosophy day at Ullswater Community College where we will work with Year 6s from other schools to have enquiries about refugees, Brexit and global issues.