Across the world, children are forced to leave their homes for far-flung destinations. This global phenomenon has particular impact in Europe, where there are now more child refugees than since World War II. Education plays an important role for children with extraordinary experiences seeking to build meaningful lives in their new context. This article offers a new theoretical approach to underpin reforms to educational policy and practice for refugees in schools in resettlement contexts in Europe. The new conceptual framing is grounded in empirical work in England and Sweden, and brings two theories together: ‘participatory parity’ (Fraser) and ‘resumption of an ordinary life’ (Kohli). Kohli’s concepts of ‘safety’, ‘belonging’ and ‘success’ have resonance with practitioners from Sweden and England as they work to meet the needs of their new arrivals. Fraser’s conceptual lenses of redistribution, recognition and representation highlight the barriers to achieving the right to inclusive education for refugee children in each context. The interdependence of both theories shapes a new framework. The theoretical understandings offered in this article have been developed with practitioners and add to the field by offering a robust moral and operational approach to shaping pedagogical principles for policymakers and educators working in resettlement communities.

DOI: 10.1002/berj.3701
ISSN: 0141-1926