Modern Day

Modern day conflicts examining the definition of: Refugees

An overview for teachers –

There are millions of refugees living in the world today as a result of many conflicts. They live in varying conditions, from well-established camps and collective centres to makeshift shelters in the open. Conflicts arise for a variety of reasons. It is not always two opposing nations fighting but people of differing ethnic, politic or religious beliefs fighting within the same country. For example, the conflict in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria, Somalia and Myanmar.

The impact on individuals, families and communities is huge and often the basic rights of children is abused at these times. For a clear overview of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child refer to this document.

You might like to watch this short Australian animation that explain what rights are with your class.

Many refugees are living in rural settings, but the number of urban refugees is growing. They all face three possible solutions:

  • Repatriation
  • Local integration
  • Resettlement

In Britain today there are many people who have come here to live because it is a place of safety. People have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict within their country. They have now settled and made new lives for themselves in our society.

Definition of an Economic Migrant:
Economic migrants are choosing to move to a new country in order to improve future prospects, whereas refugees have to leave to protect themselves from persecution.

Definition of a Refugee:
A refugee is a person who ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…’ (Definition quoted from the 1951 Refugee Convention)

Definition of an Asylum seeker:
An asylum seeker is someone who has lodged an application for protection within a country.

A Nation’s Choice

In 1938, the world community was faced with a dilemma:
What was the appropriate response to the German government’s ruthless treatment of the Jewish population under its control?

Discuss as a class, and establish criteria for deciding when a nation should come to the defence of a people persecuted by another government. Also discuss if you think that British people any more or less sympathetic to the plight of refugees today?

Key questions to consider/debate in class or research further:

  • What dilemmas confront people fleeing political oppression today?
  • Are there effective support networks for people who are in trouble today?
  • Why do people need to hide their identity?
  • What are the connections between the Jewish refugees of 1938 and the experiences of children living in Birmingham today?
  • Who is affected most during times of conflict?
  • Who tells the truth about war and its effects on families and communities?



No Comments | Leave a comment on this

Home 2

The following activities aim to explore the themes, issues and dilemmas that relate to ‘home’.

Map of home

Individually create a ‘map’ that represents home. It might be your bedroom or a favourite room or place in your house. The map could be drawn on large sheets of paper or mapped out ‘physically’ through mime/action in a large space like the hall or playground. Use chairs, P.E. equipment or personal drawings to distinguish any important parts of the room, boundaries or key objects.

In pairs take your partner on a guided tour or walk of this space (on paper or otherwise). Describe the things or parts of it that are important to you.


Ask the class to vote on which of these statements they feel strongest about:

  • It is the objects/material things that make my home, ‘home’
  • The ‘lessons for life’ that we learn from our families, traditions and religious beliefs make my home, ‘home’?
  • It is a combination of both of these that make ‘home’ for us wherever we are in the world.

Spend some time reflecting and analysing the groups’ overall response.

A letter from home

Read aloud this testimony from Eva Hayman:

“We had about a fortnight [two weeks] before we left. And into that fortnight, both mother and father were trying to give the instructions, the guidance that they hoped to have their whole life to give”.

Ask the children to imagine what they would say to their child if you had to send them away? Ask them to write a letter to them. What guidance would they include?

No Comments | Leave a comment on this


All of the children who travelled to the United Kingdom on the Kindertransport were allowed to bring a suitcase, the items put into these cases were carefully considered by those who packed them. There were obviously practical essentials like clothes and shoes but also many other important objects and belongings that represented ‘home’.

“My mother prepared all our clothes, lovingly embroidered our names in every piece of clothing, even every handkerchief, every sock”.

Testimony from Kindertransport survivor Ursula Rosenfeld quoted in ‘Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport’ preface by Lord Richard Attenborough. Bloomsbury Publishing 2000 Pg. 93)

The following activities aim to explore the themes, issues and dilemmas that relate to ‘home’.

Stimulus questions

Use any of the following questions as starting points for circle-time discussions or mindmapping tasks to lead into a deeper exploration of the ideas.

  • What parts of your home can or cannot be taken with you?
  • If you were in Inge or Imran’s situation what would you do to make your new ‘home’ like home?
  • What are the genuine implications of a ‘new and safe’ life in a ‘new and safe’ country or ‘home’? I.e. are you safe from danger? Is the new home safe? Is the country safe?

Still Image

During the first part of The Last Train programme every child in the class had to choose just one object, memento or toy that they could take with them. The possession that they chose had to have a special meaning for them. They wrote it down on a piece of paper, secretly, and placed it into a suitcase. Remind the class of their participation in that task and then read aloud Ursula Rosenfeld’s testimony above.

In pairs ask the children to create a still image/picture of that moment or a moment like it where a parent is preparing/ packing the child’s things. Ask the child who isn’t in the picture to say what they think the parent is thinking or feeling, these thoughts could be written down or shared to the whole group.

The Exhibition

Ask your class to bring in a memento such as a photograph, poem, song (spoken in ‘home’ languages) or an object that has a particular meaning of home for them. In groups, pairs or as a whole class, ask: Why is it important or significant to you?

Children could talk in as much or as little detail to the origins or ‘back story’ of the object of their choice.

Working in small groups, ask the children to create a class exhibition. This exhibition can be created simply and ritualistically by placing their object or photograph in a designated area of the classroom, hall, or wall display one at a time. Ask the group to suggest a title for the finished piece of work. It may be interesting to observe any common qualities and themes they have and why.


No Comments | Leave a comment on this


To be a refugee is the most horrible feeling because you lose your family, you lose your home, you’re also without an identity. Suddenly you’re a nothing”.

Inge Sadan (Kindertransport survivor quoted in ‘Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport’ preface by Lord Richard Attenborough. Bloomsbury Publishing 2000 Pg. 251)

What is identity?

Why would you change or hide your identity? Your identity is made up of many things:

  • your past: your family and its history, its customs and traditions
  • your appearance
  • your personality
  • your religion
  • your language

In this section we’ll look at identity, what it means and how we can explore it together.

Who am I thinking of?

Teacher begins by describing someone in the group – (positively!) including their likes and dislikes and their strengths etc. Group has to identify who is being described. Take in turns to do more.

Variation: One person has their back to the group and only they guess who is being described.

Two Minute Identikit Pictures

Find a partner, preferably someone you don’t know well. You have two minutes to tell them what you really want them to know about you and your life: past, present, fears, hopes, plans, favourites, etc. After each of you has had a turn, join another pair and tell them about your partner, trying to remember as much of what they told you as you can. Perhaps extend this by introducing the whole group to your partner.

Identity Cards

Get your class to write down what they think should be included on a persons identity card. Then as a circle-time activity: share what they have wrote and discuss ‘What is identity?’

Now get them to find and write down words to describe their character. Ask them – What makes you you? How would your friends describe you?

After the class have shared all their ideas ask them to create their own identity card. Do they differ from what they originally thought should be included?

No Comments | Leave a comment on this

Identity 2


On a blank piece of A4 paper draw an image of a tree along with its branches like one shown.

Write your name on the tree trunk.

On the lowest branches write your parents names.

On the next pair of branches up, grand parents names etc.

How far up the tree can you go? Do you need to add more branches?

Could your parents continue the tree for you?


Take a photograph of yourself showing how you would like people to think of you in the future, what would you try to communicate with them? How would you stand/ sit? What would you wear? Print out the picture, draw or stick things or pictures from magazines on it to show how you imagine yourself in the future – this could be realistic or fantastic.

Recipe Book

Discuss as a class what meal makes you think of home.
Together construct a recipe book which shows the diversity of your class.


Get parents to cook national dishes and eat them.


Bring in and try on national costumes


Try writing Haikus about your friends or yourself.

A Haiku is a Japanese three line poem with five syllables in the first and last line and seven in the middle. Use it to distil the essence of a character. Here is a link to an example of a Haiku poem about a person, to help you:

No Comments | Leave a comment on this


In The Last Train, Inge and Imran both need to leave their homes very quickly. They have to leave many things behind, particularly friends and family. Ask your class to do the following activity.


Put yourself in the situation of needing to pack things in thirty minutes.
Think carefully about what Inge and Imran would take with them and write down your ideas.

You could print off this copy of the suitcase case image and write the items you would pack around it then as a class discuss what you have chosen to pack and why.

Script writing

Write a scene, as a short play, which communicates how a child might have been told that their Mum and Dad had decided to send them away from home, in order for them to be safe from danger.

The following questions might help the writing:

  • Were they going alone, or with a brother or sister?
  • When were they told? / How were they told?
  • What did the parents give them to take with them?
  • Was something precious given?
  • What did the children decide to take for themselves?
  • Did they have to sell anything to raise the money for the journey?

Inge’s Diary

Write a diary extract as though you are Inge. Use some of these questions to help you:

  • Would some of her diary entries be really short? Why?
  • How would she describe the journey?
  • Do you think she made friends on the journey?
  • Who did she meet and how would she write about them?

What’s in a picture?

The photograph below shows children leaving by train.








Make a still image of this moment; become the six children in the railway carriage.

  • What do you notice about the boys at the back and the boys at the front?
  • Who do you think they are looking at?
  • Can you create the people they are looking at?
  • What are the three boys behind (ie inside the carriage) thinking?

Bring the scene to life for a few moments and show what you think happens next. There are two figures at the front of the photograph; can you imagine what might they be saying to each other?


No Comments | Leave a comment on this



The six drawings in this section tell the story of the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany in a very clear way. As a whole class, you can tell the story of the persecution by making six still images. In groups of 5-6, each group takes one of the pictures and re-creates the feelings and relationships within it by making their own image. Don’t worry if they cannot put every character in the image. Every group will then show their image, and teachers will extend and deepen the work by adding a different convention on to the image.


This happy scene, which probably represents the time before Adolf Hitler came to power, shows people in a park; children and older people. Who else might have been in the park enjoying life? Notice that all of the characters are in twos. Teachers bring each pair of characters to life, to show the rest of the class what is being said to each other. Are any if the pairs discussing Nazis?


After this still image, teachers ask the group to create what they think the ‘Hitler Youth’ are saying to the three children. Then the three children say what they are thinking. Are they surprised, distressed or shocked? Are all of the Hitler Youth evil or are some of them doing it because they are afraid not to?


This is a moment when a child is being told that she/he is no longer wanted at this school. It is interesting how the other children are rushing into school. Do they know what is happening to the child? Who is the portrait meant to represent at the entrance to the school? Teacher asks all of the characters to be questioned or ‘hot seated’ by the rest of the class to find out what all of these people are feeling.


This drawing has lots of people in the background at the docks. They appear to be waiting for the two children to say goodbye to each other. Teachers can compare and contrast the two environments by bring each to life; cross cut from the two children to the crowd behind them. What are the children saying? What are all the rest of the kinder transport saying? Teachers can keep cutting back and forth for as long as it is useful.


This drawing is very like Inge in ‘The Last Train’. It appears that she has been forgotten. Everybody else in the drawing have things to do. Teachers ask the class to make a circle around the figure of the girl and they adopt a collective role of a person from England who wants to help this child. The child finds it difficult, or impossible, to respond because she does not speak English.


All of the children are being met by English people at the station. Imagine that the woman has only just met the two children for the first time. Notice the children trying to see what is going on. Teachers ask the group to mime the meeting and the events of the scene. Teachers can return to the images and see if there have been any changes of thought as a result of the drama.


No Comments | Leave a comment on this

Share and Enjoy

| More