Policies of dispersal are increasingly favoured internationally for the resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers. With forty percent of the world’s forcibly displaced people being school-aged children, the dispersal of refugee-background people into regional areas means that rural schools are central sites of community response to refugees. Little is known in published research about how rural schools engage in refugee education within the policy context of ‘dispersal’. This review of relevant literature examines the educational dimensions of dispersal policies, drawing on research in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Sweden. Research linking refugee resettlement, refugee education and rurality shows a complex interplay between histories of exclusion and contemporary challenges in both the construction of rural spaces, and the deployment of humanitarian dispersal policies at national and international levels. This literature is thematically organised to show that in refugee education within a policyscape of dispersal, rural schools may be 1) operating in racialised community contexts; 2) working within poorly resourced infrastructure; 3) unfamiliar with refugee-background students; and, despite these challenges, they may become 4) key sites of resistance, creativity and support for refugee-background students and their families.

DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2022.2041112
ISSN: 1360-3116