Over last few weeks we have been reading a book called ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class,’ which details the story of a young Syrian refugee named Ahmet and his experience of moving to Britain. Throughout the story it is clear that Ahmet’s arrival is divisive meaning lots of the characters display differing views on the refugee crisis. We felt so impassioned by Ahmet’s story that we decided to write a letter to our local MP, Fabian Hamilton to see if he could help us convince everybody of the importance of accepting refugees into our local community. We sent off our letters and received this response,
Dear Class 5RA,
Thank you so much for contacting me about Ahmet, and telling me how you are helping him to settle in to your class and to a new life so far from his homeland. You have asked me for my opinions about whether the city of Leeds should welcome refugees and to comment on the issues raised by a number of parents and children, and I am happy to share my views with you all.
Of course, at a time when money for education seem to be limited, some people will think that the cost of supporting Ahmet might mean that there is less available for other things. However, I agree with the point made by many of you in your letters, that Ahmet’s presence in the class enriches everybody’s experience of school. Not only does his story teach us about the world’s cultures, faiths and politics, but simply working alongside someone with a different language helps everyone to improve their own communication skills, too. When extra help is available in the classroom, everyone benefits, including your teachers!
I was pleased that so many of you believed that Ahmet’s human rights are the most important thing to consider. I believe that we in the United Kingdom have a duty to help children who are the innocent victims of war and persecution. I believe that every child should have the right to feel safe so that they can benefit from education. I know that children like Ahmet can grow up to make a huge contribution not only to the United Kingdom but also to the world, so long as schools like Allerton CE Primary gives them the chance to flourish.
May I end by saying how impressed I was by the thoughtfulness and high standard of expression of the letters which you sent me. I am proud to know that these letters were written by young people in North East Leeds.
Labour Member of Parliament for Leeds North East