Cork officially has its first two Champion Schools of Sanctuary- Blarney Street CBS the first primary school and North Presentation Secondary as the first secondary school in Cork.
On the 22nd of November 2022, Blarney Street CBS (primary) and North Presentation Secondary School in Farranree received their monitoring team visit by Schools of Sanctuary Ireland and were awarded their Champion status.
The SoSI monitoring team included Homayoon Shirzad, Paul Kelly (Cork) Nickie Egan (North Pres Primary) Fahmeda Naheed (SoS Ambassador), Br. Kevin Mascarenhas (Member of Places of Sanctuary Board), Sr. Josephine McCarthy, and Dr. Naomi Masheti (Cork Migrant Centre), and Tara Moloney (North Pres Secondary School).
In Blarney Street CBS Primary School, the monitoring team members were impressed by the warmth, commitment, and enthusiasm of the staff and pupils for putting into effect Sanctuary values. The school has achieved so much over the period of two years. The knowledge displayed by the pupils about the refugee journey and the issues pertaining to refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants was outstanding and inspirational. Blarney St CBS also impressed with a video and song that the school produced themselves, a visual representation of the school’s Sanctuary journey and commitment to being a place of welcome and safety for all.
A deep understanding of the Sanctuary ethos of welcome and inclusion was evident by all staff and pupils and it is embedded in the practice in the school.
The rich diversity that exists within this inner city school in Cork was clearly in evidence throughout our visit. There are 31 different nationalities represented within the school community. Clearly there was a whole school engagement with the School of Sanctuary process. The SoS Notice Board was prominently displayed and the key concepts were evidently well established within the curriculum.
North Presentation has set up a School of Sanctuary board on the wall of the school’s corridor showing various activities that the school was undertaking, including action plans and pictures of various events. The team was very impressed with the positive and engaging interactions with students in the two classes they visited and also impressed to hear that the school has created a good connection with the Cork Welcome English Centre, to which a trip has been arranged for students, where they will learn about people in the international protection system in Ireland.
The core School of Sanctuary principles of Learn, Action, Share were finding practical expression on a daily basis throughout the school due to the fact that the student cohort now contained members who had come from a war-torn environment with all the consequent difficulties that this involves. The positive response by the school to their plight was very much in evidence and there was much learning and meaningful engagement happening on every front.
The introduction and inclusion of Ukrainian students into the school since September has provided the whole school community with a huge opportunity to embed the School of Sanctuary culture into school life. Some of the refugees spoke of how they had been welcomed, helped, supported and accepted by students and staff at North Pres. They are extremely grateful for everything they have received at the school and have now settled into their new environment thanks to the combined efforts of the whole school community.
The Monitoring Team unanimously agreed that Champion School of Sanctuary status be awarded to both schools, with immediate effect. Sincere thanks and congratulations to you all for undertaking such wonderful initiatives in your schools and for all the work you do to make your school, community and society in general, a better and happier place for everyone.
View Blarney Street CBS Primary School of Sanctuary portfolio HERE and their School of Sanctuary Video HERE
View North Presentation Secondary School portfolio HERE