This week the Grande Synthe refugee camp at Basroch closed and the new camp ‘La Liniere’ opened, about one mile away. On Monday it was anticipated that 500 refugees would move, but by the end of that day almost 1200 had moved to the new camp. The rest of the move over the following days took place with only a little silliness . When the camp closed on Thursday, there was only one person in the camp who had to be escorted out by the police.
We cleared our tent on Monday and our last act in the old camp was the ‘dropping’ of our tent, so that no one could get injured if a fire were to break out in or near it.
We went to La Liniere on Tuesday and were told that there was no building available for educational purposes for about 3 weeks. Rather than cancel school for 3 weeks, we decided to find another way forward. We considered a range of options and eventually we decided to just borrow a couple of the small humanitarian family tents and use them as temporary classrooms.
We spent our first full day essentially carrying out initial assessments of pupils to identify what each pupil needed support with. This is particularly important as it enables us to deploy volunteers quickly in the way which provides most support to each pupil.
This week has seen a massive re-engagement with learning by the children. There are around 100 in the camp and we have already had 70 of them come to us and ask about school. Our biggest problem in the short term is that our teaching space is so small, so we are having to work with groups in shifts. We are promised a larger space in a couple of weeks and that will enable us to expand provision.
During the week we had several visits from politicians and charity leaders. One visitor pointed out to us that this was the first official refugee camp to be opened on European soil since World War II. Our little school tent was therefore the first schooling to take place in an official European refugee camp for just over 70 years.