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Minimum Criteria

The minimum criteria have been developed to help schools achieve the overarching goals of the Schools of Sanctuary programme and contribute to realising City of Sanctuary UK’s vision of welcome.

The City of Sanctuary UK Vision

City of Sanctuary UK is a small refugee-sector charity that works to build a movement of welcome in the UK, standing in solidarity with people seeking safety. We want to see a UK where people seeking sanctuary feel safe and a sense of belonging; are able to thrive and succeed; and where their voices are centred and heard.

The Schools of Sanctuary programme aims to achieve this by:

  1. working with schools to challenge misconceptions about people seeking sanctuary and raise awareness of their experiences with school pupils, staff, governors, parent/carers and wider communities to build empathy; 
  2. helping schools to build up staff expertise in supporting new arrivals and adopt effective practice and provision to ensure children seeking sanctuary feel safe, belonging and able to thrive in school;
  3. and encouraging schools to connect and collaborate with local charities, organisations and institutions, and community groups to grow and strengthen our shared movement of welcome and solidarity with people seeking safety.

To achieve a Sanctuary Award, schools must go through the Learn, Embed and Share processes and demonstrate the fulfilment of the eight minimum criteria.

1. Training and education opportunities are provided for all school staff, management and governors on refugee, asylum and forced migration issues to build general awareness and professional expertise in supporting students from sanctuary seeking backgrounds.

2. Evidence of refugee/asylum/migration learning activities are included into school life and at least one example curricular schemes of work, across each key stage.

3. The school must demonstrate how they develop a culture of welcome in school and effectively meet the needs of students seeking sanctuary. The school should evidence how these efforts will be sustained beyond the initial award – ideally by being linked to the school’s improvement /development plan, made clear in policy documents and new staff induction processes and by assigning a member of staff as a sanctuary lead.

4. Recognition of and participation in the annual Refugee Week or other regular celebratory events which highlight the contribution of refugees and migrants to the UK. More information about the annual event can be found here.

5. Commitment to supporting age-appropriate active pupil voice and leadership on sanctuary and welcome/welcoming activities in the school, including opportunities for students seeking sanctuary to advise the school on how it can be more supportive or welcoming. The school should also evidence how they foster positive changemaking skills amongst pupils.

6. A public commitment to the City of Sanctuary vision of welcome, including the endorsement of the City of Sanctuary charter which can be done via signing the City of Sanctuary organisation pledge. This pledge should be included on the school’s website and in a public space in the school. NB. Once a school has achieved a sanctuary award, we expect schools to include the Schools of Sanctuary logo and a link to the Schools of Sanctuary web page on their website.

7. The school publicly highlights its activities in support of welcome and inclusion and seeks to build a culture of welcome beyond the school gates and in partnership with other organisations and institutions.

8. Commitment to on-going engagement with and support of the Schools of Sanctuary stream. This may include sharing resources, ideas and achievements with either local or national Schools of Sanctuary networks, connecting and collaborating with other schools in our networks and engaging in the Schools of Sanctuary activities shared in the half-termly newsletter.

For further information on the Schools of Sanctuary minimum criteria, please refer to the application guidance.

Please note: City of Sanctuary UK recognises that schools vary widely in their contexts and capacities, and there is no expectation that every School of Sanctuary will follow the exact same path or that every school’s application will look the same. The criteria have been developed to ensure the credibility and standardisation of the award, but hopefully with enough flexibility for schools to be able to devise their own unique pathway. We encourage you to look at the example applications, to see the range of ways schools can meet the minimum criteria.