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CHILD refugees in Manchester are receiving lessons in a car park because no places have been found for them in local schools, campaigners said today.
The Refugee & Asylum-Seeker Participatory Action Research (Rapar) charity said volunteers are giving the children lessons in the car park of a hotel where they are living and called on Manchester City Council to deal with the problem.
Dr Rhetta Moran of Rapar said: “The children and their families are claiming asylum in the UK after escaping war and persecution -— but they are stuck in temporary hotel accommodation because of inhumane and lengthy delays in the UK asylum and immigration system.
“The city council is responsible for the education of children living in the Manchester hotels, but many of them have already spent months out of school.
“Rapar is demanding that the city council introduce a systematic approach, with an accurate count of all the children of refugees living in hotels in the city, along with their ages, whether they have applied for schooling or not, and how long ago.
“This should be happening in Manchester — and everywhere else, too. It is a statutory responsibility, not an action to be undertaken by volunteers.
“They have even set up their own classroom in a hotel car park, chalking images of trees, flowers and freedom on the ground.”
Rapar warned that the plight of refugees will worsen under the government’s forthcoming Nationality and Borders Bill.
Ms Moran said: “It is not criminal to seek safety. It is criminal to leave any child bereft of their schooling.
"Neither the government nor Manchester City Council can justify their failure to educate these children or their failure to publicly inform the people of both this country and this city that there are indigenous and refugee children waiting for school places in number.
“Parents became so concerned about the lack of help in finding schools for their children that they obtained and completed school admission forms with the assistance of supporters. These forms are now with the city council.”
Sports charity Football for Humanity has welcomed the refugee children and parents to weekly football sessions at a Manchester sports centre.
A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: "All staff in hotels where families are placed have had guidance shared with them about applying for a school place in Manchester and are aware of the need to apply for a place to access a local school. They also have a direct link into the education service in Manchester.
"This academic year alone, the Council has placed more than 400 refugee and asylum seeker children in schools and colleges. This has included commissioning places in secondary schools outside Manchester where there were not sufficient places in their local area.
"In addition, children currently being accommodated in hotels have received direct support from Sure Start workers, along with lessons from Manchester Grammar School and Islamic Girls School each week. And the Council has supplied a teacher from a primary school who will be providing education for children as they arrive at hotels in the city."
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