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Young Asylum Seekers

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what his Department’s policy is on the education of unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people; and if he will make a statement; (92714)

(2) how much his Department spent on the education of unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people in (a) Oxfordshire and (b) England in each of the last three years.

All children and young people should be able to achieve their potential, whatever their ethnic and cultural background and whichever school they attend.

All unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) of compulsory school age receive the same educational entitlement as citizen children. All unaccompanied minors are cared for by the local authorities and therefore have the same entitlement as all looked-after children. Unaccompanied asylum seekers aged 16-18 are eligible for courses funded by the Learning and Skills Council.

The Department has issued a guide to good practice for local authorities and schools “Aiming High: Guidance on Supporting the Education of Asylum Seeking and Refugee children”. It explores the role of local authorities and schools and offers practical suggestions for the provision of good quality education for these vulnerable children. The guidance can be found on our website at:

The Department does not collect information centrally on expenditure on the education of UASC in school or further education. Local authorities can spend their Dedicated Schools Grant on the education of these children pre-16, and this can include resources targeted through the local funding formula to schools with children who have additional educational needs or special educational needs. As aforementioned, UASC aged 16-18 are eligible for courses funded by the Learning and Skills Council.

The education of UASC is also supported by the Government through a number of specific grants. My Department provides funding to local authorities to support provision for bilingual learners and pupils from minority ethnic groups at risk of underachieving, through the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG). This is a ring-fenced grant allocated to local authorities and distributed on a needs based formula. £173.6 million will be paid to local authorities for the period 2006-07.

Children’s Services Grant includes £42 million in 2006-07 for vulnerable children which is intended to secure improved access to education for vulnerable children, in particular: to provide high quality education for those unable to attend school or whose circumstances make it difficult for them to do so, such as school age mothers, Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children, asylum seekers and young carers; and to support attendance, integration or reintegration into school.

The Department also provides funding to local authorities towards the cost of supporting UASC care leavers (aged 18 and over) through the UASC Leaving Care Grant. This funding is over and above mainstream funding and can be used towards general costs of supporting UASC care leavers, including education costs.