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Education: Church school recognised as a place of welcome for refugees

22 September 2023

Christine Miles reports on a whole-school effort to support a growing community of refugees in the diocese of St Asaph

Pupils display work by Ysgol Esgob Morgan school which focuses on what friendship, com­­munity, and sanctuary mean to pupils

Pupils display work by Ysgol Esgob Morgan school which focuses on what friendship, com­­munity, and sanctuary mean to pupils

A CHURCH school in St Asaph diocese has become the first in north Wales to be accredited as a School of Sanctuary.

Ysgol Esgob Morgan is the first Church in Wales primary school in the region to achieve the award, after a rigorous process in which the staff and pupils demonstrated a culture of welcome across the school, the curriculum, and their learning.

The theme of sanctuary involved projects on war and conflict, work to analyse media headlines on asylum, and activities for Refugee Week — in collaboration with the St Asaph schools officer Jennie Downes — at St Asaph Cathedral, among other work.

The City of Sanctuary co-ordinator for Wales, Leyla Beattie, was part of the panel that assessed the school. “Becoming a School of Sanctuary is not an easy task. It requires a whole-school effort to go above and beyond statutory requirements. Ysgol Esgob Morgan is an excellent example of what being a School of Sanctuary is all about,” she said.

Part of the new curriculum in Wales focuses on developing ethical, informed citizens, “which gave us the freedom to do this work”, the school’s additional learning needs and inclusion co-ordinator, Cara Drumm, said.

“But it’s also very much down to our school’s approach, because we’ve always done a lot of work with the children on values, on children’s rights. . . So it is very much embedding the ethos of the school and what we believe in,” said Mrs Drumm, who oversaw the work to obtain School of Sanctuary recognition.

“We’ve got a growing community of refugees in St Asaph. We wanted to be in a position where the children are educated and understand what’s going on in the world. We want them to become these ethical citizens that have points of view that are respectful of others, and have that empathy and sympathy for others. I think if you instil those values in the children, then they’ll go on to do wonderful things.”

The school is keen to share what the children have been learning with the wider community, and is planning a celebration to mark the award. It is also offering to help other schools that wish to become a School of Sanctuary.


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