The Influence of the Teacher
There are critical factors which need to be addressed in order for the refugee children residing on Nauru to be able to feel safe and secure enough to return to the school environment.
Ongoing professional development will assist the teachers to improve their teaching practice and to develop strategies to implement a positive learning environment in their school. They need help identifying bullying and racist behaviour. Most significantly they need to model positive and encouraging behaviour themselves.
Evidence (Macken, 2016 & Doherty, 2016) has shown that the native teachers are bullying the refugee children. When teachers behave unkindly towards children it gives the other students permission to continue this behaviour in the classroom and into the playground. The teachers need to understand the impact that their behaviour has on all the students they teach. Raising teacher awareness of both the impact of their actions and the plight of the refugee families may help to change the way that the teachers interact with the refugee children.
Teachers need to model positive behaviour in the classrooms, towards all students. A positive approach by teachers will help to create a positive space where all children feel safe (Allred, 2008). Currently the refugee children do not feel safe to attend school, which has resulted in extremely poor attendance (rates of attendance were 90% when the school was within the detention centre and is not 15% because the children are required to attend the local school).