In March 2018, Outwood Primary Academy Greystone in Ripon, North Yorkshire was recognised as a School of Sanctuary. Since then, Academy Principal, Miss Victoria Kirkman (and Ripon Cathedral Children’s Church Teacher) and her staff team have worked tirelessly to ensure the whole school community is committed to the Academy being a safe and welcoming place for everyone, especially those seeking sanctuary. Outwood Primary Academy Greystone, prides itself of being a setting where EVERYONE is welcome, children come first and where lives are transformed.
Most recently, the school celebrated Refugee Week 2020 from 15th-21st June. Those families at home were also able to join in with the Celebration as staff posted daily activities on class social media pages along with texting out links to parents and carers.
At Greystone, Miss Kirkman and her staff team felt it imperative to celebrate this year, regardless of Covid-19 implications and being mindful of the fact that many families may be facing hardships during these unprecedented times. Being a School of Sanctuary meant that they wanted to reach out and highlight the important issues facing asylum seeking and refugee families with children in school at this time and those at home.
Each day, the activities focused on various key themes – set out by Miss Kirkman: ‘Warm Welcome’, ‘Fear and Friendship’, ‘Belonging and Being a Team’, ‘Reflection and Rejoicing’ and ‘Future and Moving Forward’. Activities included; Early Years children learning ‘Hello’ in Makaton and key languages; KS1 children drawing maps of Ripon to show a refugee child around the local area; ideas of how we can, as a community, further develop our work with the Pupil Leadership Team in September, Miss Kirkman led a virtual assembly across the academy where upon she read poems written by refugee children and those that were published by children of Greystone in 2018 and team games in each class bubble highlighting how challenging these become when you don’t know the rules or the language.
On 25th June, there had been a visit planned, for pupils to attend Hull Open Doors (for destitute asylum seekers, refugees & migrant workers) and then to the Wilberforce Museum – which would’ve been ideal in light of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, however due to Covid-19 this outing has been postponed. Outwood Primary Academy Greystone continues to be a setting where difference is celebrated, respect is mutual and where ALL feel safe and secure.’