Berwick Fields Primary School: Morning tea transition

Students of refugee backgrounds can enrol at any time in the school year, and this can present challenges for schools regarding how to meet students’ needs. Berwick Fields Primary School, a large school in Melbourne’s south east, developed a ‘New Student Morning Tea’ as a way of supporting and welcoming newly enrolled students.

Though at the time it had only three families of refugee backgrounds, the school joined the 2017 Refugee Education Support Program (RESP) because it knew its enrolment numbers would increase in future. Its New Student Morning Tea initiative is now held in Week 7 of each term, which allows for students’ transient enrolment patterns.

The first morning tea saw 24 students from Years 1 to 6 in attendance, six of whom were from EAL backgrounds. The event is now an important part of the school’s calendar, a time in which students can ask for any extra support required, while offering feedback on how their transitions have been managed.

The morning tea initiative was part of the school’s renewed focus on its enrolment processes, which included ensuring all enrolling families had a meeting with leadership. Interpreters were used at enrolment for the first time, and the principal met with every newly enrolled prep family to welcome them to the school. The school also now offers assistance at enrolment to students with EAL needs, and families are encouraged to enrol children at the local English language school (ELS) if appropriate.

Berwick Fields Primary School was also aware that to assist students of refugee backgrounds it needed to improve processes around school uniform information and requirements. As part of an ongoing commitment to developing a family inclusion policy, the school created an illustrated uniform information sheet and is now considering how it might in future adapt requirements to include all students.