What the resource is:
This is Chapter 5, in Kahin, M. (1997) Educating Somali Children in Britain. Trentham Books. The book is the result of a broad study and research that stretches back to the early 1990s. The chapter highlights some of the major constraints and their implications for the education of Somali children and focuses on their needs and concerns. The author points out, "to help Somali pupils to achieve optimally, teachers will need an understanding of not only the issues that relate specifically to their language but also of certain issues relating to their background, culture and religion".
Chapter 5 provides information on Somali pupils' religious practices and other social and family customs. It explains developing intergenerational tensions for a community who has experienced forced migration and consequential family separation and it discusses the impact of war and political violence, of racism experienced by the community in the UK and of poor housing. It also offers an analysis of the experience of Somali children in the education system and suggests ways of addressing their educational needs.
The aims of the resource:
- To share information about the cultural heritage of Somali pupils, their experiences in schools and some of the barriers to learning that they face that are linked to their community's experience of being refugees and, in most cases, relatively new to the UK.
- To recognise and disseminate useful strategies that can raise their achievement.
- Religious practices
- Curriculum and learning
- Supplementary and Saturday classes
- Community/school links
- Generation gap
- Dual socio-cultural settings
- Experience at school
- Traumatic experiences
- Induction programmes and EAL provision
- Housing problems
- Careers education and guidance
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource:
This chapter is from a book that has been widely drawn on by educational practitioners in the UK who work with Somali children in schools. The author provides first-hand knowledge about the experiences of the Somali community in the UK. He is also an experienced educational practitioner in schools in London. Although the book was written in 1997, many aspects of the book are still relevant today as the Somali community continues to be deeply affected by the ongoing political violence in Somalia and refugees still flee from there to the UK. The book was praised in the Times Educational Supplement, whose critic stated the book gave "...excellent advice on (Somali pupils') unique learning needs".
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
The resource is relevant to ITE or CPD courses in the primary and secondary sector. Somali pupils are an under-performing group at each stage of the National Curriculum and at GCSE level. It therefore has importance for raising equalities issues and developing understanding about how to tackle underachievement amongst particular groups.
The relevance to ITE students:
Somali pupils' outcomes at each key stage are considerably below those achieved by all other pupils across several local authorities. Many Somali pupils and their families experience economic deprivation, poor housing and overcrowding, and Somali pupils newly arrived in the UK may also have had a disrupted or non existent prior education. The resource therefore has importance for raising equalities issues and developing understanding about how to tackle underachievement amongst particular groups.
The relevance to early career teachers and senior staff:
Much of what is relevant to ITE students is equally relevant to early career teachers, many of whom may feel unaware of issues affecting the Somali community and how to tackle the underachievement of some Somali heritage pupils. The materials can also be used as a resource for CPD or Masters' level courses for practising teachers and senior staff.
Tim Spafford 2010