The school received the accolade from the national City of Sanctuary movement after showing that it is an inclusive school which extends a warm welcome to everyone, and that students, staff and the wider school community understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary.
A School of Sanctuary is one that is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for all, especially those seeking sanctuary. This could be people whose lives were in danger in their own country, who have troubles at home in this country or in the local community, or are just looking for a space of safety.
It is also a school which extends a warm welcome to everyone as equal, valued members of the school community.
Colton Hills had to demonstrate how it strives to be totally inclusive and provide support and safety for all who need it and when they need it. Its submission focused on the school's core values of equality and respect and its work to ensure students have a world view which enables them to recognise that everyone needs to have a place of safety at times in their lives, and that students may need that sanctuary for a wide range of reasons.
Headteacher Alberto Otero said: “We are delighted to become a School of Sanctuary, which recognises the inclusivity of our school at a time when so many young people are facing major challenges and hardships in their lives.
“Our students know that when they are at Colton Hills they will be welcome and have a place of safety and sanctuary.”
The school received Sanctuary status at a special event attended by Dr Rev Inderjit Bhogal OBE, Founder and President of City of Sanctuary. He spoke to Year 7 and 8 students about the principles of City of Sanctuary and School of Sanctuary, and encouraged the students to ask themselves ‘Who is hurting the most in society?’ and to help those people.
Colton Hills is now Wolverhampton's fifth School of Sanctuary, joining West Park, Dunstall Hill, Bantock and St Luke’s primary schools.
Meredith Teasdale, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Director of Education, said: "We are delighted that Colton Hills has become Wolverhampton’s fifth School of Sanctuary, and the first secondary school to receive the status.
"The school sets an example for others to follow and I congratulate the staff and pupils for their achievements – and I hope that other schools in our city will be inspired to apply for this status.”
The Schools of Sanctuary programme is part of the City of Sanctuary Network, a movement spread throughout the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. For more information, please visit City of Sanctuary.
For more details about becoming a School of Sanctuary, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.