STEPASIDE ETSS : DUBLIN’S FIRST SCHOOL OF SANCTUARY
On behalf of our school community, we would like to announce that we are now officially recognised as a School of Sanctuary, the first in Dublin, after our successful monitoring visit on Friday, the 29th of April. This monitoring visit was overseen by a panel of five representatives from the Schools of Sanctuary Ireland group, which included representatives from the Universities of Sanctuary and Sanctuary ambassadors, individuals who have sought international protection here in Ireland. The visit was the culmination of a whole-school project, which has taken place over the course of two years. It showcased some of the excellent projects, initiatives and student work that reflected the whole school’s commitment to being an inclusive, welcoming, and vibrant school at the heart of our community.
We began our Schools of Sanctuary Journey back in March 2020, just two weeks before the schools were closed due to the pandemic. We were visited by Andy Pollack and Reverend Philip McKinley, who explained the programme and invited us to participate as one of two Dublin pilot schools. They explained that they were both involved in the Places of Sanctuary Ireland, a network of groups in towns, cities and local communities which share the objectives to welcome asylum-seekers and refugees to our country and to help them integrate into our society. One their projects is Schools of Sanctuary, which works to create a culture of welcome and inclusion in Irish schools, north and south. The Schools of Sanctuary movement is already established and very successful in Northern Ireland, with over 40 recognised schools there. Andy and Philip explained that they were hoping to duplicate that success here in the South.
It was an easy fit with our school ethos and something the whole school could engage with. As such, our Board of Management signed the pledge and we embarked on our plans to incorporate the simple model of LEARN, ACT and SHARE about what it means to seek sanctuary into as many curricular subjects as we could. We quickly realised that so many of the things we were already doing and learning about were creating that safe, welcoming and inclusive environment that is key to becoming a School of Sanctuary.
Over the past two years, the whole school has learned about and actively engaged with the topics of migration, the refugee crisis and discrimination. We have learned about the cultural and linguistic diversity that exists in our own school community and celebrated it at every possible occasion. We have also put ourselves in the shoes of newcomer students and tried to anticipate their needs, so we could be in the best position to welcome them thoroughly into our school.
We are delighted and honoured to receive this recognition and want to thank all members of our school community for their contributions which made it possible.