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Another three schools have achieved School of Sanctuary recognition in Tees Valley of Sanctuary. Acklam Grange Secondary School, Newport Primary School, and St Alphonsus Primary School were presented with awards at 1.00pm on Wednesday 20th March 2019 in the Crypt, Middlesbrough Town Hall.

Head teachers, governors, key staff and some of the students attended to receive their award. The awards recognise the continuous hard work of dedicated staff and pupils who all play a vital part in ensuring those who arrive settle in well and are given the necessary tools to help with access their learning.

Acklam Grange Secondary School receiving their School of Sanctuary award at Middlesbrough Town Hall on 20th March 2019

Discussing the City of Sanctuary network, Pete Widlinski, Tees Valley of Sanctuary coordinator said:

“There are now over 130 ‘Areas of Sanctuary’ in UK and Ireland, whose aim is to build on an atmosphere and environment of welcome for new arrivals, by building a mass movement of grassroots organisations commited to supporting this goal.  Schools of Sanctuary are one of the most important elements of this programme, and we now have 10 recognised Tees Valley schools with several more working towards the award”.

Amy Simpson from Acklam Grange Secondary: “Acklam Grange becoming a School of Sanctuary has established a sense of safety for everyone who has links to our school, it also advertises that we welcome and appreciate refugees, asylum seekers and families from across the globe. Staff and students are mindful of prior experiences, enabling them to understand and cater for individual needs. Opportunities for student voice have been increased, promoting active citizenship and drawing out the values of our PRIDE ethos. Race equality and community cohesion work has been notably strengthened as a result of our status.”

Georgina Chinaka, Ethnic Minority Achievement Manager for Middlesbrough Council, who undertook the initial assessment, added, “The assessment framework that we have established is quite rigorous and schools have to demonstrate that they have carried out a lot of work and effort to prove to us that they are deserving of school of sanctuary status.  These three schools have excelled in this and well deserves official recognition.  The evidence provided included lots of group activity, artwork, film making, and writing.  There was a lot of innovative and exciting work taking place which is testament to the real importance the school places on being a place of sanctuary: they fully deserve this recognition.”

Patricia McGill, head teacher at Newport Primary said “Gaining the School of Sanctuary award at Newport Primary School is the affirmation that we have achieved our aim of providing a safe place for children and their families, a place for them to know they are valued and cared for and an integral part of a community.  We are extremely proud of our diverse school community; our pupils value what makes them different and understand the contribution that each and every one makes to our school. They recognise the need to nurture and support, to listen and empathise and to provide sanctuary to those who need it. That is why we are so proud to be receiving the School of Sanctuary award.”