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The Award Process

Please note that due to an incredible increase in interest over recent years, whilst any school is welcome to use our resources, attend our events and connect with our network currently only schools in areas with Local Leads can work towards the award. We are sincerely sorry for any disappointment this may cause.

We ask that any school interested in the award still signs the supporting organisation pledge and joins our network so we can work to identify a Local Lead in areas where there is significant interest and we will get in touch to let you know if/when a Local Lead emerges in your local area.

In the meantime, as a member of our network you can still get involved with all the opportunities we offer, use our resources and connect with other members of our networks – and in doing so see the powerful impact that sanctuary values and efforts can have on your pupils, school and community.

We aspire to be able to support any interested school to achieve their award – but we need YOUR support to make this possible.

If you see the value in the Schools of Sanctuary award, please donate to help us grow our network of schools and support our work.

Become a School of Sanctuary


Sign the City of Sanctuary organisational pledge to affirm your commitment to the vision of welcome for all in your school and in the UK more widely. This takes less than two minutes and is one of the eight minimum criteria to become a School of Sanctuary.

We ask that every school offers a donation – at least £50 for primary schools and nurseries and £75 for secondary schools. Unlike other award schemes, the Schools of Sanctuary programme and award have no fee and we offer all our resources, opportunities and support for free – but we rely on every school’s support to secure the future of the programme. If your school can also develop fundraising activities, or is able to donate annually this will make a big difference in helping us to plan for the future.


On signing the pledge, you will be contacted in the following weeks to be linked to your Local Lead or main contact at City of Sanctuary UK. This will be the person who oversees your appraisal process and can offer support and signpost to different opportunities. You should note that different areas manage the appraisal process slightly differently – get in touch plenty of time in advance to learn about the local arrangements. 

You should also register for the School of Sanctuary newsletter, the regular mailing list and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest events and resources.


Review what your school already has in place or has done to date to meet the award criteria (consider using the Schools of Sanctuary self-assessment tool to help you reflect on relevant areas of practice and identify areas for improvement). Use ideas from the resource pack, newsletter and case studies for inspiration.

Review the application guidance to learn about expectations for a completed application and look at example applications for further help.


Submit an application and supporting evidence portfolio to your Local Lead or Schools of Sanctuary contact*.  

Typically an appraisal process includes an application review, sharing feedback and then a follow-up visit or meeting to hear from staff, students and parents and to clarify any queries or questions about the application.

Please note: we do not accept spontaneous application submissions – you should liaise with your Local Lead or key contact with plenty of time in advance to agree a suitable submission date.. 


Once awarded, share the news on the school website, social media and through local news outlets. Invite local dignitaries to the award celebration and explain why being a School of Sanctuary is important to you. Review your application feedback and continue to engage and share your activities in preparation for reaccreditation after three years.

*Please note that in many local areas, Local Leads have established application deadlines to best manage their time. Depending on when you get in touch, you might need to wait until the next deadline to submit your application – we recommend discussing a timeframe for application submission at least a month in advance with your Local Lead.

No Local Lead School Applications

For schools in no Local Lead areas that have already signed the pledge and are working towards the award (before the 15th February 2024), your application will be overseen by the City of Sanctuary UK team. There are two opportunities to submit your application per academic year. We generally expect schools to take at least 9-12 months after signing the supporting organisation pledge before submitting a final application to ensure their efforts are reflective and intentional.

If you are not sure who your Local Lead is, or want to double check the process get in touch.

2024 Spring/Summer Deadlines

16th January – Confirm intention to apply

28th March* – Draft Application Deadline

10th May – Final Application Deadline

3rd-14th June – Appraisal Visits/Meetings

If your school is in Wales, the draft application must be received by the 5th March.

2024 Autumn/Winter Deadlines

13th September – Confirm intention to apply

4th October – Draft Application Deadline

15th November – Final Application Deadline

9th-18th December – Appraisal Visits/Meetings

If you are based in the Republic of Ireland, please visit the Schools of Sanctuary Ireland website for details of their processes and award scheme.