The oversubscribed Schools of Sanctuary: Learning and Sharing conference was held at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (soon to be the first Theatre of Sanctuary) in Leeds. Participants included teachers, students of Education and young people from refugee and asylum seeker families. In addition there were representatives from The Children’s Society, British Red Cross and RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service) and from City of Sanctuary (Bradford, Wakefield, Sheffield, Bristol, Newcastle, Swansea, London and Leeds).
Trustee and keynote speaker, Forward Maisokwadzo, talked about Schools of Sanctuary in Bristol, with some inspiring examples of good practice. Three workshops were held based on the principles of Schools of Sanctuary (Learn, Embed, and Share). Delegates offered many ideas on embedding and sharing the culture of inclusion and welcome. They also shared resources (including the beautiful animation from Newcastle that Sarah shared with us). Other resources shared included lesson plans from Manchester and the Garden of Sanctuary display, which was the outcome of work by Lisa Stephenson, who is a primary education tutor from Leeds Metropolitan University and Beeston Primary School.
One of the many highlights of the day was the lovely presentation by young people from the Children’s Society participation group in Leeds. They shared their experiences of seeking asylum and integrating in school life in the UK, and had some moving things to say like “I love your culture. You are so welcoming.” and “I didn’t want to leave school because I felt so safe there”.
There was singing and poetry by asylum seeking women and the inspiring day ended with a question and answer panel.
A fuller report and all the resources will appear on the Schools of Sanctuary page shortly.