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.

Year 1

What Sanctury mean to you?

In my country, Afghanistan, everyone is fighting and hurting each other so we came here to be safe- Zara

I came from Ethiopia when I was a baby. Mum and dad said there were bad things happening, like fighting- Younis

My family came to the UK from Pakistan. There was fighting in the streets- Aminah

When I was a baby, my family moved here from the Czech Republic as there was fighting and mum and dad wanted us to be safe- Lucie

My family moved here from Romania because of family falling out – Rona

Year 2

Sanctuary is feeling safe because you have teachers who look after you. Sanctuary is knowing you are safe because the gates are locked and you are protected from strangers. Being safe is knowing that you are brought to school and collected by someone who is allowed to take you home.

Sanctuary is belonging to your own classroom and your own teacher.

Sanctuary is caring for each other and being respectful of each other’s feelings.

Sanctuary is being in a place where you feel happy, calm and reassured.

Sanctuary is welcoming anyone, doesn’t matter who you are, you can come to this school.

Being a sanctuary school is a school for anyone, they are welcomed, respected and wanted.

Year 3

Sanctuary is refuge or safety from pursuit, persecution, or other danger.

At Ayresome Primary School, the Year 3 children believe that school is a place of sanctuary for them. Most children believe it is a safe place to be. We have procedures to keep all children safe in the event of an intruder and we take steps to prevent this from ever happening. Examples of this are the spikes on our fences and locks on our doors. All of the children in Year 3 know what to do if the fire bell sounds, keeping us safe from other dangers that could occur. In school, we have lots of adults who can help us with any problems we might be facing, at home or in school. We know who we can talk to if anything is worrying us and know that we will be listened to.

Our lessons and time in school teach us how to stay safe outside of school and help us to understand our rights as children. We learn all about what is right and wrong at Ayresome Primary School and we are made aware of dangers in our local community. Many of us have moved to England because we lived in unsafe countries that have unkind people who often fight and display racist behaviour. Some of us have escaped dangers such as war and the risk of being kidnapped. Ayresome provides us with a safe and secure place to spend our day and we are offered healthy food and clean water. In some of our home countries, a safe place, healthy food and clean water are not available.

In Year 3, we also have places of worship that are a place of sanctuary. We go to our places of worship to learn about our religions. We have teachers and other adults who can listen to us and help us. These are places where we can be with our family and also the local community. We come together to help and support each other and ensure that everyone feels safes and welcome.

Year 4

Sanctuary is Ayresome Primary. We think it is about being brave and resilient on the one hand but on the other hand accepting something or somebody without challenge. We know that our school is a safe place to be because our teachers and staff have so many ways to keep us safe. Sanctuary is for everyone, for you and me, for refugees and asylum seekers, for children that were born in James Cook hospital and those that were born abroad. Nobody can take away our right for sanctuary and safety.

These are some of the ideas that we had when we talked about how Ayresome is a safe place for all:

  • Lockdown procedures
  • Fire bells
  • Good security and a caretaker who looks after our school site
  • Headteacher who cares about our safety
  • The teachers and staff are prepared for anything

How are we special?

  • We make all refugees, asylum seekers and new arrivals to our school feel welcome by helping them around our school
  • We teach them English or we translate for them
  • We treat every child equally and we use positive behaviour in our school
  • Teachers from around the world work in our school to help children with learning and settling in

Year 5

To someone at war, a sanctuary is a hideout from all the violence and danger. To a refugee, it’s a place of refuge from the cold. To some animals, it’s a den to hide from other animals; to others, it’s a zoo. To people of a religion, it’s a place of worship such as a church, temple, shrine or mosque. In a game of tag, it’s a place of immunity.

To us, it’s a place where we can be happy, relaxed and calm. A place where we feel freer than we do in any other place. It’s a place where we can be can be ourselves without any judgement. To us, a sanctuary is with our friends!

Year 6

Sanctuary means safety: it is a place in which you feel comfortable, feel protected and secure, are treated equally and never subjected to bullying or being hurt.

In our school, everyone is welcome, regardless of how they look, where they are from, their backgrounds or religious beliefs.  We are all treated equally. In fact, we make time to appreciate each other’s backgrounds and celebrate these with events such as International Week. When new children start our school, we make sure that they have a buddy or two to look after them so that they do not feel too nervous.  We guide them around school to make sure they know where everything is to help them to feel safe and secure.

The adults in our school know how to protect us and make sure that all the rules and procedures are followed to keep us safe from harm. We work hard to make sure that children know what to do if they are unhappy about anything and that they know who they can speak to,

We make sure that we include everyone when we make friends, and involve everyone in activities rather than excluding people from our groups.  We include members of the community and invite them into school often. We try to ensure Ayresome is one big awesome circle of friends!

As a staff we have agreed the following to support the school’s journey to becoming a true School of Sanctuary for all:

·       Social justice and equity (Fairness and Human Rights)

·       Diversity

·       Globalisation and Interdependence

·       Migration and movement

·       Sustainable development

·       Peace and conflict


Skills we wish to develop in our pupils

·       Critical thinking

·       Ability to argue effectively

·       Ability to challenge injustice and inequalities

·       Respect for other people and things

·       Co-operation and conflict resolution


Values we want to instil in the children

·       Sense of identity, belonging and self esteem

·       Empathy

·       Commitment to social justice

·       Value and respect for diversity

·       Concern for the environment and sustainability

·       Belief that people can make a difference