As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, enshrined in national legislation, all children in the UK have the right to education. In the everyday life of schools, this human rights framework must often be balanced with other policies, such as immigration and securitisation ones. Teachers are expected to police membership boundaries and keep their students under surveillance, while delivering results in compliance with audits and league tables. Based on a thematic analysis of an ethnographic study of an English as an Additional Language (EAL) classroom in a diverse London academy, this paper argues that recently-arrived migrant students and their teachers often find themselves at the intersection of contradictory policy agendas that rarely consider the needs of the children themselves. Analysing how national and international policy discourses play out in the classroom, I argue that there is a mismatch between different policy areas, and between policy expectations and everyday practice.
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