Learning objective

Learn about the impact of different national, ethnic and religious groups on communities in the UK


This is a highly sensitive topic. It is also a very important one within the citizenship curriculum.

How the topic is taught will depend very considerably on the ethnic mix of the school community.

In a school with a large ethnic mix, it is likely that many children will have parents born outside this country.  Some parents may have come as asylum seekers.

It is critically important that children from an immigrant background should feel respected and valued and be reassured that despite negative comments in some newspapers and among some politicians, immigration is widely regarded as a benefit to British socieity. 

Equally the perception of some native British people that there too many immigrants in the community where they live must not be ignored.

Success criteria

  • Identify the different groups of people who leave their country of birth to live elsewhere
  • Describe the main reasons for their leaving their country, for emigrating
  • Assess the impact they can have on older communities in which they have come to live

Introduction to the learning

Ask the class to write down the names of some of the countries from which immigrants to the UK come.

Get the class to work in pairs and suggests forms of behaviour that people from these countries whichever they are will show in the early days after their arrival.

(Advice to teacher: to create a welcoming environment, have some common phrases or words translated into different languagers and put on the wall. Good morning, Thank you, Where do you live, Goodbye etc.

Produce a panel that can appear in a corner of the whiteboard or as a wall chart, on the lines of:

'Migration is happening across the world. About three per cent of the world's population (190 million) live outside the country of their birth. British people migrate too.  In 2009 55,000 went to live in Australia.'

Get a pair of children to research these or comparable figures. )

Outcome of the introduction: immigration is part of life and brings variety to the community.

Main body of lesson

Distribute cards to pairs (different pairs) with the name of a category of immigrant: economic migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants, students.

Ask them to define these groups, what they go to another country for.  Try to narrow down the regions that the different groups come from eg Middle East fo refugees, the EU for economic migrants, India and China for students.

Write the feedback on the whiteboard.

Economic migrants come for:

  • Better job or any job

Refugees/ asylum seekers come to escape:

  • famine
  • war
  • persecution

Students come for

  • education

Others come

  • to join their families already settled here

As a follow up to the discussion, ask students to access in class or at home worksheet DC1 that defines the different categories of people who leave their countries for one or more of the above reasons.

Or for a practical exercise use the Definitions quiz.

This could be a break between the two lesson sections.

We have considered the reasons different groups of people leave their home country.

Think now about what it's like for them when they arrive and how they fit in where they live.

Divide the class into two sets of small groups, one studying what it's going to be like living in a foreign country. The other what it's going to be like for their British born neighbours if they notice them.

Depending on ethnic mix you will get a lot of first hand evidence. Let it flow. Get the class to ask questions of those giving the evidence.

Challenge and extension.  Use the internet to report on asylum seekers, the basis for the UK accepting them, and what happens when they come here. Visit this page.

Teacher assessment. Ask each group for a response. Observing the questioning of witnesses.

Conclusion. Ask a challenge and extension group, having heard the feedback, to sum up the impact on both groups.


Break for a game, class exercise, role play. See Options below.

After the break:

Make up two different sets of groups, one set to think about the positive things immigrants bring to their new communities. The other set to think about why some people take a negative view.

Take feedback from each group and list on the whiteboard on which you may already have some answers prepared.

Teacher assessment.  Ask each group for a response. Observe the questioning of other groups' suggestions.

Positive things:

  • Help the economy with skills and energy
  • More young people needed in the workforce to offset ageing population
  • Bring new ideas and cultural variety

Why some people take negative view:

  • Too many people in this country
  • Don't speak English
  • Take jobs from British born people
  • Come for the welfare and health benefits
  • Bring unfamiliar cultural life

Report on asylum seekers from challenge and extension group.

What controls are in place over who comes in to stay?

Distinguish between migrants from other EU countries and migrants from non EU countries. 

Citizens of other EU countries are free to come to the UK and if they get a job, to stay.  British people likewise are free to work and live in other EU countries. See page on this site.

Migrants from non EU countries can only come if:

  • They are joining their families who are already here
  • They have job skills needed in the UK
  • They seek asylum because of conditions back home
  • They have students visas to study at UK universities

For Britain's obligations under international law see Reference


Options for use in the break

CofE Definitions quiz using the whiteboard.

Imagine you are a member of the Border Agency. You are interviewing an applicant for asylum for to get a job. What sort of questions will you ask. For some suggestions visit this page.

For support group

You are a member of a local authority that wants to help first time immigrants to get settled in the community. What sort of things would you do to make them welcome? See suggestions. 


Department for Education Citizenship Programmes of study. 2013

Lesson plan KS4 - Migration