Sanctuary School case study
Our journey to becoming a Sanctuary School is included within this Resource Pack (see page 20) and why not enjoy all of this valuable resource to find out more about the work of Sanctuary Schools.
St Mary's win two National campaigns!
At St. Mary's we are very proud of our courageous advocacy campaigns with Lewisham Citizens which both parents and children have been part of.
The first win came in March 2022 following an extensive campaign by lots of schools and charities to allow Free School Meals for all families who have no recourse to public funds. A former pupil at this school and his mum attended an MPs briefing at Westminster with Mrs Tildesley to share their experiences and this was the catalyst to the announcement made by the government to allow all pupils FSM regardless of their parents' immigration status.
The second win came in June 2022 - a concession from the government so that not all young children have to pay £1012 to become a British Citizen. Our children have been campaigning for the abolition of the fee for a number of years and even went to the Home Office some years ago to draw attention to this. You can read about the campaign below which includes a quote from one of our parents...
We are proud to be a Sanctuary School and we will continue to campaign for the right of everyone to be welcomed and treated with respect and dignity.
St. Mary's is part of a Lewisham pilot scheme to raise the awareness of racial inequality in schools. We also wanted to look at how this affects our families in housing and health.
We began the process by having a "house meeting" in school with parents. This involves everyone taking a turn to speak for 1 minute and allows everyone to have their say. Two questions were presented;
From the discussions it was clear that there are lots of areas where our children face race inequality - from the variation of reading books offered to the motifs found on glasses in Specsavers for children! Health inequality also appeared to concern our parents.
This is just the start of many conversations we need to have with our community in school to fully understand the issues and we need more parents to take part so do come along next time!
Meeting with the Mayor of Lewisham
Some of our parents and children went to Laurence House to meet up with the re-elected Mayor to remind him of the promises that he made around housing issues when he came to our school for the Lewisham Citizens Accountability Assembly in April.
Damien Egan promised that if he was re-elected he would work with us to improve conditions, care and communications for Lewisham residents. Together with representatives from lots of other organisations in Lewisham we congratulated the Mayor on his re-election by giving him some bunting to hang in his office. We also invited him to play a wordsearch game - some of the children from St Mary's helped him to find the words:
Parents Wellbeing Session
ENGAGE provided our parents with a lovely breakfast and a really useful workshop on wellbeing.
We learnt about the 5 ways of keeping well which include staying active, connecting with people and learning something new. Combine that with the 5 A's - affection, appreciation, acceptance, approval and attention and we have a recipe for wellbeing. What will you do to stay active or to learn something new? Have you thought about volunteering or giving your a bit of your time to help others?
Importantly if we model looking after ourselves well our children will learn great skills for life too!
ENGAGE is an organisation run by parents for parents in Lewisham and they will be returning for further workshops in the new academic year on Resilience and Choosing a Secondary School.
Lewisham Citizen's Assembly
St Mary's school were proud to host over 150 Lewisham Citizens for an inspiring evening as they shared their experiences and challenged the Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, and the Conservative Mayoral candidate, Caroline Attfield. The main themes were Housing and Immigration. Children from St Mary's Year 5 class were the stars as they emerged from a 'house' to share their thoughts and their vision for a fairer world. In partnership with Lewisham Citizens, St Mary's continue to encourage our children and parents to campaign and know that their voice will be heard.
Housing - Parent's Action Group
In our listening survey with parents (2019) the overwhelming issue affecting our families was housing and since the pandemic this issue seems to be even more of a priority. Last term two meetings with parents were held in the community hub to share concerns and to start thinking about how we might start to make some changes in Lewisham.
Councillor Stephen Penfold came along as a guest to one of the meetings. He is a former housing solicitor and now also works with Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network. He was moved by the stories shared and also concerned at the recurring themes about the way people were treated by the housing department and how hard it is to make contact with a named person especially since all the council offices have been closed to the public since March 2020. He has written on our behalf to the Cabinet Member for Lewisham Housing.
In the meantime our wonderful parents put into words their wishes for Lewisham Housing.....
If you have any housing issues please come and join us at our future meetings or contact Marta Tildesley for some help and advice.
Parent's Growth Mindset Training
As part of our whole school approach to growth mindset training was offered to parents both in the hall and we had many parents joining us online via Zoom which was great!
Growth Mindset is a way of trying to get ourselves and our children into a "can do" way of thinking. It encourages us to step outside our comfort zone and give things a try. It's okay to get things wrong we often just need to find another way or a different strategy.
So if your child gets frustrated and says "I can't do it!" - encourage them by saying "You can't do it...yet."
Rather than saying "You're so clever!" - tell them "I can see you've worked hard on this because..."
If your child says " I'm not good at maths/english/art" - tell them "No-one is good at this in the beginning. Let's find a way to help you understand".
We all need to practice having a growth mindset so give it a go!
Our Reception class parents were invited to a couple of sessions where we talked about positive parenting, setting boundaries and creating the best opportunity for children to learn. We also learnt about our own parenting styles and shared good practice. What an amazing group of parents - honest, open and a good sense of humour which always helps when you are on the rollercoaster journey that is parenting!
If you are interested in parenting classes you can ask Mrs Tildesley or refer yourself via this link https://www.lewishamcfc.org.uk/parenting/
Walk with Amal
Amal the giant walking puppet walked all the way from the Syrian/Turkish border across 8000km and 8 countries and finally arrived in the UK. Year 5 were on Deptford High Street to give her a very warm and special welcome along with lots of other children from Lewisham schools! As Lewisham's first School of Sanctuary St. Mary's had a very special part to play and accompanied Amal with giant bunting down the high street to Giffin Square where a huge poster was hanging which had been created by Years 5 and 6. Ayana then gave Amal a giant Paddington sticker. Remember Paddington Bear was also a refugee like Amal!
Year 5 also spoke with the Mayor of Lewisham Damian Egan and Councillor Kevin Bonavia who has visited our school before. We even featured on BBC news that night! Year 5 were a real credit to the school and lots of people complimented them on their brilliant behaviour and good manners during what was a very busy celebration.
It was an amazing day and we are grateful to our governors and parents who accompanied us on the trip!
School of Sanctuary News Blog
Events and activities from our work as a School of Sanctuary