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Norwich schools the first in the county to be given Schools of Sanctuary status

PUBLISHED: 15:37 22 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:27 22 June 2017

Clive Lewis MP presenting the Schools of Sanctuary award certificate to pupils from Jane Austen College. Photo: Jake Brown

Clive Lewis MP presenting the Schools of Sanctuary award certificate to pupils from Jane Austen College. Photo: Jake Brown

Archant

Schools in Norfolk have been given an award to recognise their efforts to encourage children to be welcoming and inclusive.

The Come Yew In! choir from Avenue Junior School. Photo: Jake BrownThe Come Yew In! choir from Avenue Junior School. Photo: Jake Brown

The nationwide initiative, known as Schools of Sanctuary, was launched in Norfolk earlier this year and “encourages schools to commit to being safe and welcoming places for everyone”.

The ceremony took place at Avenue Junior School, on Friday, June 16 and was attended by Clive Lewis MP and the Lord Mayor of Norwich.

Mr Lewis said he was delighted to attend the event and described Norwich Schools of Sanctuary as: “A network of schools in our city who’ve committed to being a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone - especially refugees, asylum seekers and others seeking sanctuary.”

Guests included representatives from Norfolk’s refugee community - including Joe Sterling, who is in his 90s and arrived in Norwich as a child on the Kindertransport. The schools recognised were Avenue Junior School, Jane Austen College, Wensum Junior School, Notre Dame High School, Bignold Primary School, Magdalen Gates Primary School and Framingham Earl High School. Mr Lewis presented pupils with the Schools of Sanctuary certificates. There are three elements to School of Sanctuary status - the schools must teach pupils what it means to be seeking sanctuary, they must take steps to encourage welcome, safety and inclusion within the school and the must share their progress with the wider community.

Debbie Dismore, Headteacher, surrounded by Year 5 pupils from Avenue Junior School. Photo: Jake BrownDebbie Dismore, Headteacher, surrounded by Year 5 pupils from Avenue Junior School. Photo: Jake Brown

Jake Brown, 35, a PSHE teacher at Avenue Junior School and Norwich Schools of Sanctuary lead, said: “Becoming a School of Sanctuary is a way for schools in Norfolk to engage with the refugee crisis across Europe and to commit themselves to being safe and inclusive spaces.

“We hope that many of our county’s schools will join the network to share the great work they already do and contribute to our county’s proud tradition as a place of safety, welcome and refuge.”

He became interested in the Schools of Sanctuary initative after watching the refugee crisis unfold on the news and wondering about its impact on the children he taught. The initiative encourages schools to carry out a range of projects, from fundraising to offering refugees work experience in schools.

Year Five pupils from Avenue Junior School created their own version of the poem ‘We Refugees’, inspired by poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

Refugee Week runs from June 19 to June 25, and events are running in Norwich this week to celebrate the contribution of refugees to the city.

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