School of Sanctuary awarded Sept 2022
School of Sanctuary Award – Feedback Report September 2022
Christ Church Primary School serves an extremely diverse community – including 25.5% who are families who are seeking sanctuary or refugees - and it is clear that they have developed a culture of welcome, safety and inclusion over many years. It’s commitment to newly arrived families, as well as the children of those families, is obvious from the application and moreover from how they have approached the increase in demand due to the Contingency Initial Accommodation Hotel that was stood up in close proximity to the school in 2021.
It is abundantly clear from both the submitted portfolio of evidence as well as ongoing work from professionals at Christchurch Primary that it is an outstanding example of a school of sanctuary. The school is clearly a warm and hospitable environment that welcomes children from all backgrounds; the school then cherishes and values the diversity that this brings. The school staff show a remarkable ongoing capacity to continue to devote time and invest emotional energy into their work continuing to embed the principles that embody a school of sanctuary.
Much of the school’s daily work is about responding to the lived experiences of its families and pupils, many of whom are refugees or asylum seekers, and so many of the criteria for the award are met almost instinctively – staff are clearly highly attuned to the needs of the school community and it was really impressive to note the OFSTED feedback that “pupils settle quickly because of the warm welcome they receive from staff and pupils and that staff are responsive to their emotional needs.”
The school’s efforts clearly demonstrate a commitment to developing staff and student understanding of the experiences of people seeking sanctuary and connecting the school with the wider community. We were particularly impressed with a comprehensive and well thought out offer for students seeking sanctuary, detailed under criterion 3, for example the new incentive, ‘The Fruit Bowl’ offer fruit to families who are lacking a fresh and varied diet, as well as school providing swimming costumes, clothing, correct footwear and kit (football boots, track suits etc.) for competitions, to ensure that all children look and feel part of the team. Another strength of the application is the evidence of the range of opportunities that students have had to learn about sanctuary issues and the school’s efforts to embed learning within the curriculum.
Another strength of the application is the evidence of whole school understanding of sanctuary, and the approach from school is that issues relating to sanctuary are not only addressed in discrete pieces of work or activities where these ideas are explored, but are also thoroughly embedded in other areas of the curriculum – this is really impressive.