School of Sanctuary
We first started our journey to become a school of sanctuary in the Spring Term of 2020. Since then, we have achieved so much and have learned a great deal. This page is dedicated to documenting our journey on becoming a School of Sanctuary and keeping our parents, parish and wider community up-to-date with our latest achievements. Read on to find out more about our journey...
What is 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 a place of sanctuary. This could be people whose lives were in danger in their own country, who have troubles at home or are just looking for a safe space. A School of Sanctuary is a place that promotes a welcoming culture and a place of safety to those seeing sanctuary, including asylum-seeking and refugee families. It is a school that builds empathy and awareness of such issues and encourages children, parents, staff and the wider community to welcome those seeking sanctuary.
A School of Sanctuary helps its school community to understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary and to extend a welcome to everyone as equal, valued members of the community. It is a school that is proud to be a place of safety and inclusion for all.
'Walking in the Shoes of a Refugee' Pilgrimage
As part of our work for Refugee Week in June 2021, we created a pilgrimage with the different 'stations' of a refugee's journey. First, the children put themselves in a refugee's shoes and tried to imagine what they would pack if they were forced to flee their home at short notice. Then they imagined the emotional goodbyes as they began their long journey. At the third station, the children tried to imagine the long walk, often across deserts, mountains and forests in search of a place of safety. Next, the children paused for a moment to try to imagine having to spend time in refugee camps. The children were shocked to learn that some refugees wait years before being granted asylum. After this, the children thought about a refugee's final journey to their new home. They talked about how a refugee must have very mixed emotions ranging from relief and excitement to nervousness and anxiety. The last station symbolised a new home. Here, children discussed what it must be like to arrive in a foreign land with a new language and culture.
Our children were so engaged and in awe of what people are forced to go through just to find a safe place to call home. This task embedded the definition of refugees and asylum seekers and built a strong sense of empathy to all those seeking a place of sanctuary.
Refugee Week 2021
In Year 1, the children learned about how some refugees have to leave their old lives behind at just a moment’s notice. To reinforce this idea, the children created ‘grab bags’ with things they would take with them if they had to leave home in a hurry. They included things like a sleeping bag, a torch and warm clothes. This activity really made the children think about what is ‘necessary’ and the difficult predicaments refugees have to deal with.
Year 2 looked at the story of Paddington Bear. The children found out that Paddington is almost like a refugee because he was displaced because of a natural disaster (an earthquake) which destroyed his family’s livelihood (producing marmalade). Because Paddington was not technically fleeing persecution, Year 2 learned that Paddington was not really a refugee but the story really got them thinking about how refugees should be treated.
During outdoor learning, Year 3 imagined they were refugees and built shelters using resources they had to hand. It helped the children to think about being more resourceful and helped them to empathise with refugees and try to understand what it is like to be a refugee.
Year 4 researched refugee stories from the Save The Children and Action Aid websites. They then heard about the Virtual Giant Doll’s House project and wanted to make their own versions. The children selected refugee stories that had resonated with them and made shoeboxes to reflect their refugee journeys.
Year 5 began Refugee Week by reading The Boy at the Back of the Class – a book about a boy called Ahmet who had to flee his home because of war. They learned about different views and opinions about refugees and debated about which were right and wrong. They then read ‘Refugees’ by Brian Bilston. When they first read the poem, the children were shocked. It was full of negative and very controversial opinions about refugees. They then read it again from bottom to top and heard a completely different viewpoint about refugees – one that they all agreed with. Year 5 then created their own poems written in the same style.
Year 6 read Hamam’s Story, A ten-year-old boy from Iraq on the Action Aid website. They read about his journey to Greece and the dangers he faced along the way. They found his story so interesting and moving that they wanted to gain a better perspective of what his journey was truly like. They researched his story further and wanted to write their own version based on the facts they could find online. They used the information they had learned throughout the week to do Hamam proud. This activity really helped the children to deepen their understanding of this young boy (and millions of other refugees) and the journey he and his family took to get to safety.
Schools of Sanctuary Week of Action and Orange Heart Campaign (18th October – 22nd October 2021)
During this important week, each class dedicated a PRE lesson to continuing our work towards becoming a School of Sanctuary. Each class followed up on their previous learning from Refugee Week and built on this knowledge. The children read stories and poems, looked at case studies and even researched the new nationality and borders bill. We also took part in the School of Sanctuary’s orange heart campaign. Every child wrote a message to welcome refugees into our school and community. These were displayed on our tree in the entrance for our parents and visitors to see.
On 21st October, some Year 6 children visited Birmingham’s Central Library to discuss the work we have been doing for our application to become a School of Sanctuary. The children met Angel – a refugee from Lebanon – and Councillor John Cotton. The children spoke eloquently about their work on refugees and read out some beautiful poems.
Migrant Help UK's Christmas Shoebox Appeal 2021
When we heard about Mirant Help UK's Christmas shoebox appeal, we knew we had to get involved. Our wonderful children and families donated over fifty shoeboxes packed full of gorgeous gifts for refugee and asylum-seeking children. The volunteers at Migrant Help UK were bowled over by the generosity shown by our school community and were very grateful for each and every shoebox that was put together with such care.
Awarded January 2022!
We are proud to announce that we achieved the Schools of Sanctuary Award in January 2022 but this it not the end! We will continue our work on refugee and asylum seekers as well as supporting Schools of Sanctuary.