Three schools in Lancashire will be awarded this week with a special status for developing a culture of acceptance and support.
Lancashire School of Sanctuary status will be awarded to English Martyr’s Catholic Primary School in Preston, and The Cathedral Catholic Primary School and Our Lady’s Catholic College, both in Lancaster.
The schools will be presented with a certificate in recognition of their achievement at a presentation ceremony to be held at County Hall, Preston on Thursday 7 December. They are the first schools in the county to receive this accolade.
The certificates will be presented by Paul Duckworth, Lancashire County Council senior adviser in the School Improvement Service, and Jeff Morgan, The City of Sanctuary National Trustee in the North West, on behalf of the national City of Sanctuary movement.
A School of Sanctuary is a school that is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for everyone, especially those seeking sanctuary. This could be people whose lives were in danger in their own country, who have troubles at home or are looking for a place of safety.
Schools awarded this status help pupils, staff, parents and the wider community understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary. They also extend a welcome to everyone as equal and valued members of the school community.
County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “I am very proud of these schools that have achieved the School of Sanctuary status.
“Being recognised nationally for being a safe, welcoming, inclusive environment for our children, their families and the wider community is an accolade to be proud of.
“Lancashire schools welcome and value everyone. We want every child to feel supported and able to reach their full potential. Programmes like this really do have a positive impact on the children, shaping their views and understanding of others who share their world.
“I certainly hope that there will be many more schools in the future being able to demonstrate such worthwhile values.”
The schools have all been commended for their efforts to ensure that pupils do not feel isolated when they arrive. The various schemes that have been set up include a language buddy initiative, which sees pupils volunteering to be the first point of contact for children who arrive in the school with little English, but share the same language as them.
Pupils show consideration to anyone joining the school and not knowing much about the culture or the language. Some children use their first-hand experience to make sure that the new pupils do not feel lonely or isolated.
Each school engages in positive and enthusiastic activities involving their own pupils and parents, and others from all over the world. They also embrace programmes that include schools in other countries, and show an ongoing commitment to inviting visitors to their school and running regular information days.
More information about the School of Sanctuary programme is available at: cityofsanctuary.org