Here at City of Sanctuary Newcastle we have a few ideas in the pipeline and one of the things that we are hoping to give a push this year is the work around Schools of Sanctuary – you can read more about this work here: Home | Schools of Sanctuary (cityofsanctuary.org)
There is an upcoming event on the 18th October to promote this work to schools; heads, teachers, support staff and educationalists in Newcastle. If you work in a school, or have contacts who do – please share this far and wide and come along! If you are interested and/or have ideas for this work and want to discuss please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
For some context, there are two schools in Newcastle that are recognised Schools of Sanctuary. In terms of achievements and actions applications have explained how schools have looked at a variety of things as part of the process including looking at their existing curriculum and weaving in themes relating to refugees and forced displacement; looking at the school library and having an area dedicated to books about refugees, asylum seekers and human rights; making resources available to staff e.g. a Schools of Sanctuary Folder; school staff completing the Newcastle City of Sanctuary training module online and building in learning about refugees and asylum seekers into staff inductions, CPD etc.
There has also been thought given to how the schools support new arrivals with schemes set up such as EAL buddies for new arrivals who have English as an additional language, Language of the Month and Parent English Classes.
The Schools of Sanctuary process aims to encourage schools to evaluate and reflect upon how they are set up and what they currently offer and identify areas for development and improvement. This is then followed by a period of time to implement any changes and actions and to pull it all together alongside supporting evidence to make up their application form. We are really keen that this is an ongoing process and that schools will continue to develop their work and responses during the application process and going forward, including supporting and encouraging other schools in their area, trust etc to get involved. There will be lots of support on offer to school throughout the academic year with sessions to support them in their work and with their application – this will be explained in more detail at the Introduction to Schools of Sanctuary event.
Here is a quote from one of the Newcastle schools:
“We are thrilled with the award but even more so with the knowledge and understanding we have gained throughout the application process. Our SLT have used this period of reflection to further improve the offer we give to our most vulnerable pupils and have felt encouraged and supported.”
And one of the parents who is from a refugee background on one of the School of Sanctuary schemes that they had seen at the entrance to the school, ‘country welcome boxes’:
“It wasn’t important what was in the box, it was important what was in the heart, and these hearts came to say WELCOME!”
And for those who are interested here is a really nice write up in Schools Week on the experience of one school in Coventry on becoming a School of Sanctuary – the head talks about it being one of his career highlights!