St Martin’s Academy has been named Chester’s first ever School of Sanctuary.
The Hoole primary has been officially recognised for its work to become a safe and welcoming space for people whose lives were in danger in their own country, or who are having trouble at home and need a place of safety.
Over the course of a year, children and teachers compiled a portfolio of evidence which demonstrates their commitment to welcoming everyone as equal, valued members of the school community.
It has earned the award from the City of Sanctuary team in Chester, and Neil Gibbons dropped in to present it during a special assembly.
Teacher Alex Pourghorban, who spearheaded the initiative, said: “During the assembly children from each year group expressed to Neil how the school environment and practices have been adapted to ensure a welcoming and equal environment to all.
“We practice acceptance and celebrate cultural diversity.
“Neil then spoke to us about what it means to be a School of Sanctuary, and praised the success of St Martin’s in showcasing their efforts to provide a secure setting.
“We’re very proud of the award and the work we have done, it’s important to us and something we are very much committed to continuing in the future.”
St Martin’s Academy Headteacher, Wenda Smith, who is also Executive Headteacher at Grosvenor Park Academy, Chester, guided it to an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating within a year of opening in 2013.
She said: “Being a School of Sanctuary recognises our ongoing commitment to engage with and celebrate the positive contribution of refugees and asylum seekers within our community.
“We pride ourselves on being a place where children feel safe and secure – this is the basis for all our achievements.”
The school is part of North West Academies Trust (NWAT). Among the other NWAT schools are Delamere Academy, near Northwich, and Acresfield Primary, which were both recently listed among the top 180 state primary schools in the country by The Sunday Times, based on SATs results.
As a young school, pupils at St Martin’s have not yet completed Year 6 SATs, but the school’s first intake from six years ago will sit their exams this academic year.
Steve Docking, CEO of NWAT, said: “We believe in equal opportunities for all and it is essential that our schools are warm and welcoming places where children can thrive.
“Well done to all at St Martin’s.”