© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This critical ethnography explains how and why refugee children experience schooling in specific ways by examining teachers’ use and interpretation of local refugee accommodation policies. It argues that locals’ understanding of refugee protection framework to host refugees generates discourses such as brotherhood/sisterhood and guest and these discourses have an impact on the schooling practices and teachers’ approaches to educating refugee children. The findings show that teachers pedagogic decisions rely on these discourses, and refugee children are affected by their teachers’ adaptation of these local discourses to their classroom activities. Although teachers claim that they use child-centred and politics-free instructional methods as mandated in refugee education policies, their practices often challenge their claims. As a result, refugee children experience isolation, assimilation and a form of restriction of their critical thinking.