We are delighted to announce that Oasis Academy Connaught (OAC) has been recognised as a School of Sanctuary. The primary school, based in the Knowle West area of Bristol, serves a diverse community and has worked hard to promote a welcoming atmosphere within the school. Over the past year they have been working towards their School of Sanctuary award, and we have been continually inspired by their dedication, especially given the extreme difficulties schools have been facing due to the pandemic.
Whilst working towards the award, OAC has held assemblies to educate pupils and staff about what it means to be a School of Sanctuary, raising awareness of why people might have to leave the country they were born in. We have been particularly impressed with the work they have done around languages; noting that at least 44 languages are spoken in the school, they have encouraged the answering of registers in different languages and promote school wide activities such as language of the month. They have adapted the website to be accessible in a variety of languages, a model which has been adapted by other academies in the trust. They are also developing a range of tools and resources in the home languages of children joining the school, ensuring people do not feel isolated as a new arrival.
To further promote the culture of welcome, OAC has a member of staff dedicated to working with families and children who are seeking sanctuary. This member of staff meets the families when they enrol and works with them to make sure they have contact information to help them within the community. During lockdown the staff member made regular contact with these families, going above and beyond to extend a welcoming hand.
Zak Willis, one of the members of staff who was instrumental in the award said of the recognition that “we are very pleased to have been presented with a place of safety award by the City of Sanctuary movement for our ongoing commitment for each and every child in our care, which is at the heart of the Oasis Academy Connaught ethos.”
We are encouraged by the dedication of the staff members involved, not just to obtain the award but to continue working in the future to make sure the momentum is not lost. This is a status that they will continue to work on; continuing to develop a wide range of resources for teaching and learning about sanctuary whilst also expanding their range of language resources. Throughout all of this, their work has been informed by families who have come to their school seeking sanctuary. Congratulations to all at OAC for helping to build a school and community of welcome, safety and hope.