Teachers and social workers interviewed by Hong Kong Well
Younger children have been affected as well. Some were uprooted “overnight” as parents decided to leave in haste and in secret due to safety concerns, allowing no proper farewells with friends.
Adapting to a new life in the UK will be challenging. While 40% of 12-year-olds are fluent in English to classroom level, other may struggle initially. Mainstream schools in Hong Kong tend to be more intense academically than the UK. Students are used to competition-centred teaching and learning that ranks them from a young age. Their experience of discussion and in note-taking are also limited.
Many Hongkongers have migrated here because, in 2020, China imposed a law in their hometown that effectively outlaws dissent and significantly restricts rights and freedoms. The UK is allowing Hongkongers with British National (Overseas) status and their dependants to settle here. Some of these students may come with emotional challenges. This is because young people were key participants in a 2019 mass social movement to oppose a law amendment many feared would threaten the city’s freedom. For more than six months, they witnessed a violent crackdown on the streets either in person or via social media. This was followed by political suppression which extended to classrooms.