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                       Newsletter 1, December 2020
What is RefugeesWellSchool (RWS)?
RWS is a Horizon2020 research project that develops, implements and evaluates school-based preventive interventions promoting mental and social wellbeing among migrant and refugee adolescents. We are seven universities located in six countries: UGent and KULeuven (Belgium), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Tampere (Finland), NKVTS (Norway), University of Uppsala (Sweden), and University of Sussex (UK). Our project aims to provide evidence-base on what interventions work and why, and how they can be implemented in different educational settings. In doing so, we collaborate with schools and teachers, our national and European stakeholders, and our partners the Augeo Foundation, CASNAV, ICPI, and Pharos.
What interventions?
We implemented five different school-based interventions, all aiming to promote social and mental wellbeing among migrant and refugee youth. Even though different, these interventions are all anchored in focusing on social networks and social support. They altogether aimed to result in increased overall mental health, resilience, academic achievement and positive social networks and relationships. By now, all the interventions have been implemented, and we currently work on studying their effectiveness.

Classroom Drama (CD)

In drama workshops, refugee and migrant adolescents in multi-ethnic schools work on constructing group stories. By engaging with themes of migration, exclusion, pluriform identities and cultural adaptation in host societies, CD supports the construction of identity and meaning, and establishes bridges between past and present. Led by KULeuven, CD has been implemented in Belgium, Denmark, and the UK. Learn more about CD
PIER intervention
The intervention ‘Enhancing Peer Interactions and Social Capital’ develops a participatory approach to supporting safe, positive peer interactions and social relationships in multi-ethnic schools. PIER clusters pupils with migrant and non-migrant background in small collaborative groups to work together on establishing social connection, dialogue between minority and majority groups, and school belonging. Led by the University of Sussex, PIER has been implemented in the UK and Finland. Learn more about PIER
Welcome to School (WTS)
WTS builds on the Welcome to School initiative developed by Pharos Refugees and Health Knowledge Centre (the Netherlands), with support from the European Refugee Fund. Building on social capital, WTS seeks to strengthen the competencies of refugee and migrant youth with regards to self-esteem, coping, social skills and behavioral adjustment. Led by the University of Copenhagen, WTS has been implemented in Denmark, Norway, and the UK. Learn more about WTS
In-service Teacher Training (INSETT)
INSETT enhances teachers’ insights into how refugee/migration experiences may impact young people’s psychosocial well-being and school functioning upon resettlement in a new country. INSETT collaborates with the Augeo Foundation and invites teachers to participate in an online professional development course on how to support refugee youth. Led by NKTVS, INSETT has been implemented in Norway and Sweden. Learn more about INSETT
Teaching Recovery Techniques + INSETT
Teaching Recovery Techniques is an intervention developed by the Children and War foundation. TRT is based on trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy, and includes seven sessions for young people and two for caregivers. Led by the University of Tampere, TRT has been implemented in Finland and Sweden. Learn more about TRT
Where are we in the project?
By now all the interventions have been implemented, each intervention at least in two countries. In the middle of running the interventions, COVID-19 hit in, school closed, and we witnessed the extreme challenges  schools faced in maintaining their educational work. Naturally, we also had to adjust some of our interventions. Nevertheless, by now we have concluded the interventions and asked adolescents, teachers and parents in the quest to know how the interventions improved mental health, social networks and social support, teachers' competences and teacher-parent collaborations.
Events, workshops, conferences
Collaborating with stakeholders is a key principle of RWS. The Swedish team met their national stakeholders in October 2020. Read more about the stakeholders' meeting.
The RWS teams were busy spreading the word of the project. Check out what the Belgian, Danish, and Finnish teams have been up to, and find the full list of appearances here. Contact us, if you are interested in knowing more about these presentations!
INSETT, in collaboration with Augeo, offered online courses to teachers who teach refugee youths. RWS also created additional web-based material for teachers. Read about teacher training courses here.
Publications
We are very happy to announce that RWS already has some important results! The Danish team has some interesting findings about:
  • The importance of time and space in adolescents' caring practices (click for a short summary or full article)
  • Teachers' caring practices for migrant and adolescent youth (click for a short summary or full article)
  • The challenges of COVID-19 and how teachers tried to maintain care for migrant and refugee adolescents during the pandemic (click for a short summary or full article)
Other interesting links and material
  • Read about parental involvement in RWS.
  • Students participating in PIER watched Channel 4's video about Jack, a student in Manchester welcoming Syrian refugee, Rani.
  • Students participating in PIER watched PositiveNegative's animation about Habib's journey from Afghanistan to the UK.
  • We recommend a new Finnish film about a family of asylum seekers, living the joys and challenges of daily life while coping with the uncertainty over residency permits.
  • Read a report by the CAGE (Coming of Age in Exile) project about young refugees in the sectors of health, education and labour market
What's next?
  • We are currently in the process of analysing the information we received from participating adolescents, teachers and parents. We are looking at how effective the interventions were, what worked, why and where.
  • We will organise national and European workshops to school practitioners and policy makers.
  • We will share the findings of the Effectiveness Report, and some more resources for school practitioners in the next newsletter! Stay tuned!
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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 754849.

Our mailing address is: hello@refugeeswellschool.org

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