School of Sanctuary

Our Aims

Designated in 2018, Ayresome Primary School is one of the central cluster direct schools who have a number of children seeking refuge, migration opportunities and asylum.  Ayresome is committed to ensuring that Sanctuary is about creating a safe environment for everyone in school, regardless of where they come from, their sexuality, gender, appearance or religion.  We aim to tackle isolation, fear, and exclusion by creating an inclusive culture of welcome.  We are a Sanctuary School where all individuals are respected and given a safe place to be educated.

What is a School of Sanctuary?

A School of Sanctuary is a school that is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for those seeking sanctuary. It is a space for those whose lives were in danger in their own country, who have troubles at home or are just looking for a space they can feel safe.

A school of Sanctuary is a school that helps its students, staff and wider community understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary and to extend a welcome to everyone as equal valued members of the school community. It is a school that is proud to be a place of safety and inclusion for all.

Why become a School of Sanctuary?

We are proud to be working towards becoming accredited as a School of Sanctuary. We are committed to ensuring that our students learn and understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary and the difficulties asylum seekers and refugees face. Our curriculum ensures that there are opportunities to learn, understand and take actions around the themes of human rights as well as diversity, inclusion, refuge and migration.

We made a triangle of trust and discussed our safe places with ‘Molly’ our RRSA special friend.

Who is involved in the School of Sanctuary?

Working towards becoming a School of Sanctuary involves the whole school:

  • Governors are fully supportive of our commitment as a school community to work towards School of Sanctuary status.
  • Staff are involved both as subject leaders and as middle leaders in the delivery of an excellent curriculum which supports this ethos.
  • Our School Parliament group are actively working on initiatives to enable us to be awarded School of Sanctuary status.
  • Parents are informed of the work surrounding the School of Sanctuary accreditation via the website and App on a regular basis.
  • We are also developing ways to engage the wider community which we serve. 
  • We hold special themed collapsed timetable days to focus specifically on learning about refugees and asylum seekers.

All of our children can engage with and share any thoughts with 'Worry Monsters'.

Governors' Senior Leadership and Staff

Our Governors and senior leaders are pivotal in driving our school forward to becoming an accredited ‘School of Sanctuary’.  At meetings, presentations are made to raise the awareness of the importance of our school being a safe place for so many pupils. Governors are acutely aware of the ever-changing cultural demographic of our school.  As a result, they make important decisions targeting appropriate resources and funding to meet the needs of pupils and the community.


Staff have participated in regular activities both without the children, at staff meetings, and with the children in learning time.  Awareness is at a high level of the needs of many of our children and issues around asylum seeking and being a refugee are handled sensitively and professionally.  Resources are used from the Red Cross, Amnesty International and the BBC to support delivery of learning, impart knowledge and provide photographs for discussion. Resources are also prepared by the School of Sanctuary lead to ensure materials are of high quality and appropriate to different ages.


Across the curriculum, pupils learn about why people seek ‘Sanctuary’ (asylum), the traumas they face and the ongoing problems once they arrive in a country of safety. They learn about negative stereotypes, challenge myths and learn about why people may arrive in Britain.  Children attend the University of Teesside during ‘Refugee Week’ to speak to real refugees and to find out more about the challenges and difficulties they have faced.  Younger children learn about Paddington Bear and use story to discuss moving and leaving your home country.  


Useful Links

Amnesty International  UK

The Red Cross

The Refugee Council

Justice First

BBC Seeking Refuge Educational Clips

Oxfam Resources

Guidance on supporting the education of asylum seeking and refugee children.