Being a School of Sanctuary is about promoting our shared British Values of compassion, tolerance, and respect. Its aim is to support schools to welcome every child and encourage kindness – one child who was moved to a School of Sanctuary said, ‘In my old school I was scared but everyone is so kind here’. Schools of Sanctuary helps schools to effectively support the thousands of children seeking safety in the UK and enable children and young people to understand the experiences of those who have been forced to flee their homes.
For many of the children at the schools in our networks, stories of fleeing their country are not abstract but are also their own, and schools have a duty of care to advocate for their pupils’ rights. With recent events in Ukraine and Afghanistan, vulnerable children have joined schools across the UK, with many of these schools having never supported refugee children before. The Schools of Sanctuary programme not only helps these schools to understand the challenges refugee children might be experiencing and support them to thrive but ensures that these children’s experiences are recognised and represented.
From English language support and trauma-informed care to buddy systems for new students, the Schools of Sanctuary network aims to foster a culture of welcome, compassion and kindness – all of which has far ranging benefits for every child.
Schools are required to prepare children for life in modern Britain; teaching them about the society and world they grow up in and fostering active citizenship skills (a requirement for all schools). Forced migration is a significant global phenomenon widely discussed in the media and public discourse – the Schools of Sanctuary programme supports schools to talk factually about the different reasons people may have been forced to flee and their experiences arriving in the UK in order to build understanding and reinforce our shared British Values. We do not promote a political perspective – in an increasingly divided climate, we only encourage schools to lead with kindness and compassion. The Schools of Sanctuary programme does not ask for schools to judge the claims of people seeking sanctuary – simply hear their stories.
The Schools of Sanctuary award scheme offers a broad and flexible framework to help schools review and refine their practice towards building a culture of welcome and understanding. This means that schools determine what activities and efforts they develop and the Schools of Sanctuary programme doesn’t offer outreach or activities in schools. The schools and the incredible teachers within them are the professionals and have the expertise to decide the most appropriate approach to educating their pupils about these issues in reflection of their age and backgrounds.
We are incredibly proud of the 400+ inspiring schools that have earned the Schools of Sanctuary award and the other 350 who are working towards it.
If you share our vision for a culture of kindness, understanding and humanity in the UK, please donate to support our work with schools. Thank you.