Asylum seeker and refugee support

Definition of terms 'asylum seeker' and 'refugee'

In most countries a person must apply for asylum before they are recognised as a refugee. An asylum seeker is someone who arrives in a new country and makes an asylum application. It is then up to the Government to decide if their claim meets the definition of a refugee, as below.

The 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees defines a refugee as someone who has fled their country due to 'a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion'.

Hampshire has relatively few refugee families. This means that many of them are isolated and very vulnerable. Schools will need to be flexible in their approach and provide a planned induction programme. This may be in conjunction with Hampshire Social Care if the child concerned is unaccompanied.

Please note that government law and guidance regarding asylum seekers and refugees is under constant review


Support available from EMTAS

Hampshire EMTAS can

  • provide detailed guidance on asylum seeker/refugee issues including immigration, admission to schools/colleges, teaching and learning, pastoral advice, resources, useful contacts.

  • provide a bilingual assistant to translate or interpret.

  • give you practical teaching support, including an early profiling assessment of the pupil's previous education and current achievement levels to enable early and correct placement.

  • provide advice on the best course of action regarding GCSE choices/other courses when admitting pupils into Year 10 or Year 11.

  • provide in-class support for the child/young person.

  • provide training for school staff.

Hampshire EMTAS and the Virtual School for Children in Care have jointly produced a set of Frequently-Asked Questions Microsoft Word 428kB in relation to Asylum-Seeking children and young people. Download the document.


Entitlement to compulsory education

Children/young people who are asylum seekers or refugees have the right to free education. This includes young people aged 16-19  who are entitled to attend school sixth forms or Further Education(FE) colleges.

School admission

Schools must by law treat any application from a child/young person seeking asylum in the same way as any other application. The fact that the child/young person may speak little or no English does not matter.

Free school meals

If your family has been issued with vouchers from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) then your child is entitled to free school meals (and milk, where provided).

School uniform

Schools may be able to provide you with some school uniform items for your child.

At the discretion of Hampshire Local Education Authority school uniform grants may be available.

At school

Please ask the school to obtain a bilingual dictionary for use in school.

If you have a problem or are worried about your child's education, please speak to the class teacher or form tutor.

At home

Continue to use your own language at home. Children who speak their first language well will become better speakers and users of English. Talk to your child about their lessons. This will help your child to understand more.



Information for unaccompanied children and young people

Audio files

You can listen to sections of the  'Welcome to Hampshire' booklet being read aloud in English.


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Claiming asylum

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Asylum process introduction

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Asylum process screening

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Asylum process first meeting

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Asylum process interview

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Asylum process decision

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Asylum process appeal

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Your rights

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Your responsibilities

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Leaving care

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Medical care

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Working in the UK

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Sport and recreation facilities

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Contacting family and friends

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Personal experience

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