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Northern Ireland has 42 Schools of Sanctuary

Congratulations to the 42 Schools of Sanctuary in Northern Ireland, including 14 new Schools of Sanctuary in Belfast, Lisburn and in Derry/Londonderry this year.  Thanks to Belfast City of Sanctuary and the Intercultural Service of the Education Authority for the sterling work they have done in preparing these Schools for the Award. The awards have been made possible by generous support from the Urban Villages Initiative of The Northern Ireland Executive Office.

City of Sanctuary UK welcomes the involvement of Local Authorities in the delivery of the award and the engagement of expert schools advisers in this important work. We also welcome the excellent revision of the original Schools of Sanctuary resource book to better service the circumstance and curricula of schools in Northern Ireland. Click here for more information about Schools of Sanctuary and the Northern Ireland Education Authority’s Intercultural Education Service.

Prior to assessing schools for the Sanctuary Award, members from Belfast City of Sanctuary went into schools to do some cultural awareness workshops with pupils and staff.

The appraisal teams, which include people seeking sanctuary trained as assessors, were supplied with very detailed and well-illustrated portfolios from each school. In addition, they got a feel for some of these schools in February and early March when the teams delivered cultural awareness workshops with teachers and pupils.

Stephen McGowan, Strategic Programmes Manager with The Urban Villages Initiative (The Executive Office) said:

“This is wonderful news.  To think that this time, 3 years ago, Blythefield Primary School in Sandy Row became the first Primary School of Sanctuary in Northern Ireland.  Now, because of the partnership between the Urban Villages Initiative, the Education Authority and Belfast City of Sanctuary, 42 schools have achieved this highly valued award. Teachers I have spoken with consistently highlight the trans-formative impact of the process leading to the award, which provides a framework for the entire school to mobilise and bring together many different strands and innovative ways to promote inclusive, welcoming and safe places for children and families from all backgrounds and circumstances.  That process has been catalysed, nurtured and realised because of the support and guidance from the EA’s Intercultural Education Services team; the vital input and assessment by volunteers from the City of Sanctuary group; and the shared learning, new connections and relationships established across participating schools.

This highlights the collaborative approach adopted already across these major projects and it highlights the further potential to strengthen links with other community led projects.  I was also delighted to hear that the School of Sanctuary model is being extended to other areas by the Education Authority, and hopefully regionally in due course. It is exciting times.

It has also been difficult, unsettling and unprecedented times but the fact that confirmation of the awards has delighted the schools is most pleasing. Hope has a knack of doing that and I believe Schools of Sanctuary showcases the very best of what we as a society can be.  This pandemic will pass, the impact and legacy of Schools of Sanctuary will endure.”

Much of the training by the Education Authority will shortly go online.

The schools awarded this year are


Carr’s Glen Primary School

Ballysillan Primary School

Glenwood  Primary School

Edenbrooke  Primary School

St Paul’s Primary School

St Vincent de Paul Primary School

St Colm’s High School

All Saint’s College

Ashfield Girls’ High School


Tonagh Primary School

Killowen Primary School


Gailscoil Eadain Mhoir

St Joseph’s Boy’s School

St Eugene’s Primary School


The photos are from a visit to St Vincent de Paul Primary School in February.