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Schools of Sanctuary: Living Our School Values

Bluecoat Primary Academy, Nottingham share their experience of living their school values through the Schools of Sanctuary award and their sanctuary efforts

At Bluecoat Primary Academy, we are proud to offer a caring, nurturing and secure environment that celebrates diversity and enables every member of our school family to be the best that they can be. Following on from our successful SIAMs inspection, where we were recognised for our ethos and curriculum that celebrates and reflects our beautiful diverse context, we invited teachers and leaders from schools across the Southwell Dioceses to attend a Diversity Plus Event on Tuesday 10th October at 9am. The aim of this event was to share the best practise initiatives and strategies that we had implemented throughout our School of Sanctuary journey and to recruit more Church Schools across the Southwell Dioceses to take part in becoming a School of Sanctuary and support us in our mission to becoming a City of Sanctuary. 


 As part of the event, leaders at Bluecoat Primary Academy showcased the journey we had been on to becoming a school of sanctuary and a school that celebrates and welcomes diversity. Here, we gave examples of how we had ensured that children see themselves within our curriculum, through our curriculum being both a mirror (representative and relevant for our children) and a window (moves children beyond their lived experience). We also demonstrated how we had embedded this within our curriculum vision, values and aims, and through this work associated to the School of Sanctuary, achieved our EXCELLENT SIAMs Inspection outcome. 

At the event, we shared the following information and initiatives that helped us to achieve our EXCELLENT SIAMs Inspection Outcome and how this links to our School of Sanctuary Journey. 

How Schools Should Live based on their Vision, Values and Aims: Embracing your Context 

Here, we started by sharing with the Southwell Dioceses team the importance of knowing your school context, who you are and ensuring that through understanding this, you then encompass this within how you live. We shared the importance of schools knowing their geographical location, who their disadvantaged pupils are, the importance of considering how diverse their schools are, including staff and how schools can embrace all faiths, even when the school is a Church of England School. 

By identify who you are, we shared how understanding this is the start to the School of Sanctuary journey, as leaders are then able to identify areas of strength and areas of development regarding how they embrace their contexts within school life. For example, leaders can identify whether there is a protected characteristic that is unrepresented within their context, making their school less welcome to all. Here, we shared the importance of therefore by embracing this area to develop and address it, it can help schools become more ‘Welcome to all’, through embracing and acknowledge the protected characteristic that is less represented and ensuring we showcase equity and equality within our schools. 


We shared how as a school, understanding this had helped us to review how we can become more welcome to all, especially refugees and those seeking asylum, by  embracing and ensuring we valued all of the protected characterises, especially within our curriculum design. Here, we shared how through becoming a School of Sanctuary School, we have ensured that our curriculum design achieved the following: 

 An Example of Diversity in a Subject 

Offering an example, our History Leader shared with the Southwell Diocese staff an example of how we can ensure we expose our children to a range of cultures through historical periods, embracing the School of Sanctuary mantra of being ‘Welcome to All’. 


Here, we have ensured our children are exposed to a range of different cultures through the historical periods and events we study. Such as: Roman Empire, Kingdom of Benin and Windrush Generation. We showcased how this ensured the teaching of refugees and asylum seekers within our curriculum subjects, so that children and staff can embrace and truly grasp the lived experienced of those who are seeking refuge.  

Fight for Freedom: Teaching Migration within our Curriculum 


An example we gave was our Fight for Freedom Topic. Here, this theme aims to give a detailed overview of the history the African and Caribbean peoples from ancient times to modern day. A key concept that will be explored is migration – forced, through slavery, and voluntary, through emigration. This helps to build an understanding of how the social make up of Britain became what it is today and to give a more detailed insight into the histories of a significant proportion of our local community and our wider, national society.  

From this, we then shared the importance of ensuring children see themselves represented within the artists, scientist and historical figures that they study, especially if you except children to feel truly welcome within your school. Therefore, we shared how we had taken into account the protected characteristics to ensure our key figures studied represented these characteristics.   


Embracing all Religions within Church Schools: Pray Gestures

In addition, we shared with the Southwell Diocese network group how through the use of Prayer Gestures, we embraced all religions within our school, as children select a pray gesture that allows everyone to personally engage in meaningful reflection. This demonstrated to the Southwell Diocese how as Church Schools who may also have multi-faiths, we can ensure all religions are welcome and can connect to the messages we deliver during our acts of worship. Again, we connected here to the School of Sanctuary process and how we understood that mobility within school of those joining us from differing religious backgrounds seeking refuge and how these pray gestures and embracing of their cultures and beliefs ensured we are welcoming all our community. 

Becoming a School of Sanctuary 

Finally, we then showcased the School of Sanctuary Journey we had been on since redefining our curriculum and key figure road maps to embrace the School of Sanctuary’s key vison and aims. Here, we shared our charity work, through completing a Together Project, where we donate food items each week to our local food bank for those people who are seeking refuge. We also shared how we had bought the message of being ‘Welcome to All’, through taking part in Refugee Week and Bilbrough Arts Festival, where our children completed artwork based on the story, ‘The Long Journey’, to our community. This was put on exhibition within our Nottingham Bilbrough Community to echo the key message and inspire others to embracing the City of Sanctuary vision and values, through being welcome to all, particularly refugees who are seeking refuge. 


Future Network: Join us! 

Following this event, we have now set up a Diversity Plus Network of schools within our local Church of England Southwell Dioceses to embrace Diversity across our schools and to take part in the School of Sanctuary process. 

If any other schools would like to hear about the journey we have been on through the School of Sanctuary and how we achieved our EXCELLENT SIAMs grade through embracing this, please contact us on: [email protected]