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Ministry of Education.

Supporting refugee learners

This page has examples and resources for you to use when planning teaching and learning for:

  • speakers of te reo Māori
  • students with refugee backgrounds, who are English language learners.

Refugee learners

"Refugee children are an identifiable and increasing group in our schools.New Zealand ranks 1st equal per capita in the world in terms of the number of refugees accepted, however, of the 10 countries that regularly resettle refugees, NZ rates lowest in post-arrival support. Refugees are special because they have typically experienced both displacement and trauma and now face the task of adapting to a new environment, frequently involving the simultaneous acquisition of a new language. In addition many of the issues of concern regarding their effective inclusion into New Zealand schools and classrooms will be relevant to any migrant populations, and to all children who have suffered trauma, loss or grief in their lives."

Interventions for Refugee Children in New Zealand Schools: Models, Methods, and Best Practice


English for Speakers of Other Languages: A Refugee Handbook for Schools
This handbook, published by the Ministry of Education, outlines a framework for schools in preparing for and teaching refugee learners, including planning and delivering a teaching programme, identifying and managing at-risk students, and planning for transition from school.

Refugee background students
This Ministry of Education site outlines various kinds of support provided by the Ministry to schools with students from refugee backgrounds.

NZC Update 10 - Engaging with families from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds
This Update focuses on partnerships between schools and diverse families and communities. It also includes a story of Burmese refugees in a New Zealand school.

Bilingual Assessment Service Information
This service enables state and state-integrated schools to access a targeted group of trained Resource Teachers (Learning and Behaviour, RTLBs) to administer bilingual assessments of the learning needs of students from language backgrounds other than English. A bilingual assessment can distinguish between language learning needs, additional special learning needs, and social/emotional needs, through dual assessment in their first language and English. 

Pacific Solution.

Pacific Solution (DVD)
This documentary looks at the daily lives of a number of Afghan boys from the MV Tampa, now living in Mangere, Auckland. Shot in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Nauru, and New Zealand, it traces the circumstances that led to their arrival in New Zealand and the reunion process they have been undergoing as their family members are resettled in New Zealand. Through the prism of their experience, the documentary examines the refugee crisis that is facing the world.

From There To Here (PDF 2MB) 
A collection of writing from young people who came to New Zealand from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Use these stories as models for writing by your students.

Updated on: 01 Sep 2021