Schools are often at the heart of a community, with the potential for outreach through students, staff and parents. To make a school a place of sanctuary is therefore integral to ensuring that a community is hospitable and welcoming. Newman Catholic College in the London Borough of Brent has demonstrated a passionate dedication to becoming a School of Sanctuary which has permeated to the wider community through the teachers, students and their families. With over 77% of the students from EAL backgrounds and over 60 languages spoken, the school prides itself on its inclusivity which is reinforced by its remarkable efforts to become a School of Sanctuary.
Newman Catholic College presents an inspiring example of a school which is truly devoted to ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers feel welcome and supported, and not just the students themselves but their families too. The school offers an alternative curriculum for newly arrived students from overseas to ensure that they can effectively engage with the curriculum and gain competency and confidence in their English. As well as this, there is a vital recognition throughout the school that refugee and asylum seeking young people have faced huge upheaval which means many of
them are unable to complete education at traditional ages. For this reason, the school offers students the opportunity to take GCSEs, A-Levels, etc. at a later age in order to ensure they are able to receive these qualifications despite the barriers they have faced.
Support from the school extends beyond term time; a summer school is offered for students providing ‘holistic education’ to refugees, young asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors aged 14-17 years. The summer programme is designed to help newly arrived young people to develop their English and address various psychological and social needs and to prepare for school and life in the UK. As well as this, the school offers a Syria Summer Camp for up to 70 refugee children. The aim of the camp is simple but vitally important: ‘to provide both a home of learning and a sanctuary of love’. In 2018, the summer camp’s focus was ‘wellbeing’, which extended not only to the children at the camp but also the number of local Syrian and Afghan refugees employed to work at the Syria Summer Camp. Furthermore, Newman Catholic College demonstrates their continued dedication to extend hospitality outside of their school and into the wider community by offering English classes to parents three times a week.
These examples are just a glimpse into the fantastic work that Newman Catholic College has been doing in order to become a School of Sanctuary and which resulted in them, understandably, being recognised as a School of Sanctuary on the 19th of June. More information can be found on their website.