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  • Writer's pictureBennett Team

Guidance For Families Displaced From Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus with School-Aged Children

March 8th, 2022

Broadly speaking, families displaced by the war in Ukraine fall into two categories:

1. Local Ukrainians whose children were in public/state schools in Ukraine and who are now crossing the border into neighboring countries in large numbers, especially Poland, and

2. Expatriate families, and senior-level employees of international businesses in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus who are being relocated to several countries in the region, or repatriated to their home countries throughout the world.

After the essential concerns of safety, shelter, and food have been addressed, their focus turns to education. Below are the latest developments and insights regarding K-12 education for these two groups of refugees.

For Those Who Were Studying in Ukrainian at Local Schools

Prior to the war, there was already a significant Ukrainian population in Polish public schools. Now, Polish schools are welcoming hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugee children. Refugee students ages seven to eighteen are guaranteed a seat in their neighborhood public school or one nearby. Ideally, families bring school reports with records of grades completed. If not available, attestations are sufficient. Plan for Polish language learners includes additional language lessons running parallel to classroom curriculum or preparatory classes to ready students for classroom content. Mandated class sizes will increase from 15-25. Despite teacher shortages, an appeal is going to call teachers back into the classroom, especially those speaking Russian and Ukrainian.

Other nearby countries receiving refugee children include the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia.

For International School Students

International schools in Kyiv have gone to remote learning and the vast majority of their students have evacuated. In addition to the international population in Ukraine, many foreign executives and senior locals at multinational companies in Russia and Belarus are being withdrawn, too. International schools in other countries in the region are open to reviewing candidates and receiving new students on a case-by-case basis. These include international schools in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Poland, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the UK.

To determine the optimal host destination for the relocation of employees from the war zone countries, employers need to:

1. Assess the legal/immigration landscape in the countries under consideration. Some countries in EMEA have greatly relaxed their rules regarding foreign families and students, others have maintained very strict barriers.

2. Determine the capacity of particular countries to absorb the foreign students

3. Determine the suitability of available spaces based on the students’ own learning histories and styles.

Distance Learning

Partly as a result of the pandemic and the rapid evolution of online learning technology, there are now many options in this space. Children can participate in accredited schools around the world in a wide variety of languages and curricula. In many ways, the selection of an online school is similar to the search process for “bricks & mortar’ schools. Contact us for help.

Education “Go Bag”

Parents in or near a conflict zone should include educational considerations in their proactive preparation for evacuation:

· Locate school records, report cards, evaluations, and assessments

· Access the curriculum outline

· Copy of Individual Education Plan (IEP) for Special Education Needs (SEN) students

· Copy of School Learning Support Progress Report (Special Education Needs)

· Immunization records

· Birth certificate

· Copy of weekly class schedule

· Photos of key textbooks; the last chapter studied

· Complete a “Who Am I” profile

· Screen shot of transcript and most recent semester(s) roster of classes

Evaluating School Options

· How long is “temporary?” If displacement is short-term and the children are young, virtual schooling resources would likely be sufficient.

· If evacuation is extended or if the return is unlikely, evaluate more permanent school solutions. Will this be for the remainder of the academic year, or for the current academic year and beyond?*

· Assess the availability of schools that take students during the mid-academic year and would be “good fit” solutions.**

· If a family has changed time zones, is it realistic for children to access remote learning if it is live versus recorded?

· Will the former and future curricula be compatible?

· Does the student have facility in the language of instruction?

· Are there key exams on the horizon?

· Is a shift required between Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB)? How will course credits be assigned?

· Does the school have a strong pastoral care program and plans in place to counsel, comfort, and integrate evacuees?

Through education planning, parents can provide a supportive and understanding environment for the child evacuee. The goal is to ease the trauma, work through the crisis and get the children settled in a comforting and constructive school environment.

The situation is changing rapidly. The Bennett team will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates as warranted. Please contact us with any questions you may have, and you'll receive a prompt and informative response.

* Bennett consultants can help employees sort through these questions to get them settled promptly at a well-regarded school. We know schools everywhere in the world. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us - we're here to help.

** Further insights and advice on navigating mid-academic year school searches and placement can be found here.

Bennett International Education Consultancy works directly with hundreds of families each year across the globe. We support families by helping them make informed decisions about the best-fit schools for their children; with our guidance, they secure placement in preschools, private day schools, public/state schools, boarding schools, colleges & universities, including schools with particular programs, such as special needs support.


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