The education of students from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds is an international concern. It calls for inspired teachers, sensitive interventions, and informed leadership. This writing discusses the views of students, teachers, general staff, parents, and the principal of a primary school in regional New South Wales, Australia regarding the sense of belonging that is so critical to the very diverse school culture. It is intended to inform and challenge others engaged in school leadership to reflect on their strategies and policies for welcoming students with refugee and asylum seeker status into their communities. It details the strategies and perspectives planned by one principal and his staff to provide an authentically inclusive environment for refugee and asylum seeker students in an already fractured community. Working with the principles of the components of the SCARF model, status, certainty, acceptance, relatedness, and fairness, originally designed as a collaborative workplace model, the principal adopted this model to guide the creation of unique, social justice-focussed school ethos and culture in a dominantly white education system and local culture. The data from the participants is recorded in their own words and includes comments from refugee parents and their children. This study provides evidence of the need for strategic planning for inclusion and the importance of perspectives, which acknowledge the vulnerabilities and difficulties of these communities whilst also interacting and developing relationships of human dignity and respect.

DOI: 10.1093/jrs/feab073
ISSN: 9516328