Skip to main content

Steps to becoming 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.

Whilst we are committed to maintaining no charge for the School of Sanctuary award, to help us secure the future of the programme we that, if possible, your school offers a donation. Suggested donations are at least £50 for primary schools and nurseries and £75 for secondary schools. If your schools 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

If there is no Local Lead in your area and your application will be overseen by the CoS UK team, there are two opportunities to submit your application per academic year. We generally expect schools to take at least 9-12months 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.

2023 Autumn/Winter Deadlines

6th October – Draft Application Deadline

17th November – Final Application Deadline

11th-20th December – Appraisal Visits/Meetings

2024 Spring/Summer Deadlines

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.

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.