The school was assessed by a team from Places of Sanctuary Ireland, consisting of five trained supporters including parents living in Direct Provision and educationalists, and was judged to be “outstanding” in terms of its activities for welcoming and including young people from diverse backgrounds and spreading the message of sanctuary though the community.
Children from all classes shared what it means to them to be a welcoming School of Sanctuary, and the younger classes linked the Christmas story to seeking sanctuary, explaining that the family of Jesus had to flee as a refugee because their lives were threatened by Herod.
Places of Sanctuary Ireland (PoSI) is an all-Ireland network of groups who work to promote a culture of welcome and inclusiveness across every sector of society, so that people seeking sanctuary in Ireland will feel safe and equal, and have opportunities to be involved in all community activities. Education is one of the most important areas of this work, with Universities of Sanctuary and now Schools of Sanctuary giving a lead in ensuring equality of opportunities, integration, respect and understanding are promoted and valued at all levels of our education systems.
Schools of Sanctuary coordinator Homayoon Shirzad, himself a refugee and a parent of primary school children, said: “Bunscoil Loreto is model to other primary schools in its outstanding and highly creative work to welcome and support children from multiple nationalities that have joined the school and to help build brides of understanding across society. As a refugee parent, I know how much this atmosphere of welcome will mean to all new families.” Philip McKinley, founder of the Discovery Gospel Choir and of Universities of Sanctuary Ireland, added, “We were enormously impressed by its wide range of initiatives and how committed children of all ages are to the venture.” The team included asylum seekers from Wexford, and they loved the way the school celebrates languages, food and festivals from the various countries. Other initiatives include setting up a ‘sanctuary space’ for reflection; establishing a sanctuary committee among the children; inviting asylum seekers in to give talks; creating music and art to celebrate sanctuary; embedding all these activities into the curriculum and sharing these activities with other schools. Earlier this year the school brought their hallmark sanctuary song, ‘All Are Welcome’ to Walton’s national schools competition, and were selected as one of only six schools to perform in the National Concert Hall. The concert was cancelled due to COVID 19, but the song remains a key part of their school identity.
“Through this wide range of welcoming activities, Bunscoil Loreto is providing a shining example to other Irish schools by offering refuge to those many young people who need it and equipping its students with intercultural skills and the ability to have compassion in what is, for many, a turbulent world”, said Mr McKinley.
See link below to Bunscoil Loreto’s School of Sanctuary portfolio:
Schools in Wexford, Waterford, Galway, Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny are preparing to become Schools of Sanctuary, joining three schools in Monaghan and over 40 in Northern Ireland already awarded. Last week Mount Sion CBS Secondary School in Waterford became the first nationally designated Secondary School of Sanctuary.
If you like to join this national and regional movement, please visit help yourself to have journey through the information available on this website or contact one of us in the Places of Sanctuary Ireland or Schools of Sanctuary Network.