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Two schools in Limerick achieve official recognition as Schools of Sanctuary Two schools in Limerick achieve official recognition as Schools of Sanctuary

Education

Two schools in Limerick achieve official recognition as Schools of Sanctuary

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Schools of Sanctuary – Staff and 5th 6th class students of St Johns BNS pictured above with the SoS monitoring team

St John the Baptist Boys National School in Limerick city and Desmond College in Newcastle West were granted official status

Two schools in Limerick achieve official recognition as Schools of Sanctuary
Staff and students from Desmond College

St John the Baptist Boys National School in Limerick city and Desmond College in Newcastle West were granted their official status as “Schools of Sanctuary” last week.

The awarding of the status is an official recognition by Schools of Sanctuary Ireland. It attests to how these schools symbolise and realise an inclusive, welcoming and safe space for all pupils and their families, especially newcomers who come from refugee and migrant communities and other ethnic minorities, including the Traveller community. As well as celebrating diversity in all its forms, through activities and events in the school and the local community, both Limerick Schools of Sanctuary have built knowledge and understanding among the students and the staff about forced migration due to violence, persecution, famine and other threats to life and freedom. The two schools also have exceptionally strong language support programmes for students whose first language is not English.

To achieve the official status, the schools submitted fantastic portfolios for review and welcomed a monitoring team from Schools of Sanctuary Ireland.

Desmond College has now become Limerick’s very first post-primary School of Sanctuary. Vourneen Barry, principal of Desmond College, is immensely proud of this achievement and of the school’s long-standing ethos: ‘Our school is a place where every student is known by name, where their story is heard and where they are valued. It is a privilege for us to be chosen as their school, chosen by the student and their family, and to become part of their lives, their present and their future. As a staff, we never take that for granted and every student who walks through our doors benefits from our diverse and inclusive school community’.

St John the Baptist Boys NS now joins St Mary’s NS as Limerick’s second School of Sanctuary at primary level. David Nicholas, principal of St John the Baptist Boys NS reflected:  ‘We’ve been working on the School of Sanctuary for over a year now. The SoS was a fantastic opportunity to collate all our initiatives that we’ve been working on over the years to create a warm, welcome, inclusive environment where everyone feels valued. We will now continue to focus on our school of Sanctuary actions and learning for years to come, hoping that the inclusive culture will be truly embedded within the school going forward.’

The Schools of Sanctuary initiative is greatly supported by Mary Immaculate College, which itself is seeking designation as a University of Sanctuary. Director of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Interculturalism at MIC, Professor Lorraine McIlraith, celebrated these schools’ achievements. “We at Mary Immaculate College are committed to the ethos and practice of Sanctuary in all levels of our education system from primary to post primary, further and higher education.  We are excited to support and celebrate with several of our primary and post-primary schools that have achieved and also work towards their designation as Schools of Sanctuary. As Chair of the University of Sanctuary Committee in Ireland, I feel it hugely supports our work that our young people will have had such positive intercultural experiences throughout the lifecycle of their educational journey”.

In the work with these two schools, Schools of Sanctuary Ireland were supported by Doras, the Limerick-based NGO that promotes and protects the rights of people from a migrant background in the region and in Ireland.

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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