Migration in and out of the UK


In the 19th and early 20th centuries economic hardship made many people from southern and northern countries of Europe migrate elsewhere, to their more prosperous European neighbours, to North and South America and beyond. At the same time the colonial age saw many Europeans, from France, Germany, Belgium and the UK working in countries across the world.

Since the middle of the 20th century, with the end of the colonial age and with the increased prosperity of countries that formerly saw large numbers leave, the movement of migration has been in the other direction. Firstly there was large inward migration from former colonies, secondly, movement between member states of the slowly enlarging EU, thirdly a massive inflow from former Soviet block countries that joined the EU in 2004, and finally the ongoing and increasing pressure from migrants and asylum seekers from beyond the EU.

The UK has always been an attractive destination – political and historical factors as we see have played a role here, but so have language and culture.

Student Factsheet 1

Small group or whole class tasks          

Question: What makes people want to leave their country and live somewhere else?

Suggested answers

  1. Natural disasters
  2. Political and religious oppression
  3. Economic hardship
  4. Personal ambition

Can we think of examples today?

Student version here

Let’s get to know some children who came here

children and teenagers
Profiles are presented to suit whiteboard presentation. You can click through to see the original language for each short profile.

Student facing pages for Migration - young people here

students and adults
Arrangement of data follows a grid of questions.

Talking about these profiles could be extended to gather information on the countries concerned.

Student facing pages for Migration - adults here

Quick class round up

  1. Has anyone got family members living and working in another country ?
  2. Can we quickly identify what part of the world these countries are in ?

Small group tasks        

  1. What would it feel like if your parents decided to live and work in another country?
  2. What things might be difficult?
  3. What would you miss?

Note to teacher: if there is person in the class who has recently come to live in this country, why not ask him/ her for his/ her reactions. You might want to give notice of the request.

Quick class round up        

Who else do we know – in our family, our school, our street, whose parents or grandparents came here to work?

What mixture of nationalities can we see in our local community, e.g. restaurants, market stalls, delicatessens, carwashes?

Asylum Seekers in the UK

Small group work

  1. Does this country have more asylum seekers than other EU member states?
  2. Which countries do they come from?
  3. What happens to asylum seekers when they arrive in this country?
  4. Are they given help with accommodation?
  5. Do they get the same Social Security benefits as British citizens?
  6. Can they work?

Check the facts here

When you checked the facts, had your discussions thrown up any responses that were clearly far from the truth?

Keep a checklist of “asylum myths” for work later in this module.

The other topics