Skip to main content

Are you a school based in Swindon, interested in working towards becoming an official School of Sanctuary?

What does it mean to become a School of Sanctuary?

A School of Sanctuary is a school that is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for all, especially those seeking sanctuary. This could be people whose lives were in danger in their own country, who have troubles at home, or who are just looking for a space of safety.

A School of Sanctuary is a school that helps its students, staff and wider community understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary and to extend a welcome to everyone as equal, valued members of the school community. It is a school that is proud to be a place of safety and inclusion for all.

No matter your school’s demographic, becoming a School of Sanctuary is for all schools. Educating your students on what it means to be seeking sanctuary is beneficial for all students to be able to empathise with the plight of others, and to dispel negative myths surrounding those seeking refuge.

The programme began in Yorkshire and there are now Schools of Sanctuary in many English towns and cities, as well as in Wales and Ireland.

A School of Sanctuary is a school that has received a Sanctuary Award from City of Sanctuary UK or a partner organisation in recognition of its good practice in fostering a culture of welcome, belonging and solidarity for those seeking safety.

What does my school need to do?

To become a School of Sanctuary, a school must take an intentional and reflective approach to reviewing and refining school practice in relevant areas and demonstrate that they have implemented three key principles:

  1. LEARN Schools help their students, staff and wider community learn about what it means to be seeking sanctuary and the issues surrounding forced migration.
  2. EMBED Schools are committed to creating a safe and inclusive culture of welcome that benefits everybody, including anyone in their community seeking sanctuary.
  3. SHARE Schools share their values and activities with their local communities.

To support schools to achieve the three principles, City of Sanctuary have developed a set of eight minimum criteria which have been structured to fit into the three overarching principles of ‘Learn, Embed, and Share’, which are used for all sanctuary awards. See here for further information about the minimum criteria.

The first step for any school wanting to work towards the award is to register their interest and affirm their commitment to our vision of welcome by signing the supporting organisation pledge. See here for a simplified summary of the next steps.

Why become a School of Sanctuary?

  • Create a sense of safety and inclusion for all
  • Develop an understanding of what it means to seek sanctuary. Dispel negative myths
  • Provide learning opportunities around human rights, social justice, diversity and interdependence
  • Strengthen race equality and community cohesion work
  • Increase students’ voice and promote active citizenship
  • Augment work to attain Stephen Lawrence Education Standard or other inclusion award initiatives
  • Provide evidence to meet Ofsted expectations for high educational achievement for refugee and unaccompanied asylum seeking children

How long does it take to become a School of Sanctuary?

Every school is different and the journey to becoming a School of Sanctuary is unique — so there is no standard or expected length of time to complete the process.

Some schools may have a long history of supporting students from sanctuary seeking backgrounds, whilst some may have few – or no – students from sanctuary seeking backgrounds and have a lot to learn.

We expect all schools to use the journey to become a School of Sanctuary as an intentional and reflective process, helping them to review and refine school practice and strengthen community connections and engagement. This is evident in a clear application, good engagement with your Local lead or City of Sanctuary UK contact, and in your responsiveness to constructive feedback, advice and suggestions.

In general, we suggest that schools commit to spending at least a full academic year completing the process.

To find out more please contact Cristina Bennett: [email protected]