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The Schools of Sanctuary programme is an award scheme being piloted in the Urban Villages areas of Belfast and Derry/Londonderry with support from the Northern Ireland Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, the Belfast City of Sanctuary group, and the Intercultural Education Service of the Education Authority.

Belfast City of Sanctuary has again this academic year 2018/2019 been working closely with the Education Authority of Northern Ireland to support the next phase of the Schools of Sanctuary program. One crucial part of the preparation was the training of appraisal teams comprising a mix of refugees, asylum seekers and local Belfast COS supporters, who having examined information provided by each of the schools, then conducted monitoring visits to the schools for the purpose of the award of School of Sanctuary status.

It’s been a wonderful experience for our teams in Belfast who have this year (2018/19) awarded the School of Sanctuary Award to 13 new schools, 10 in Belfast and the remaining 3 in Derry/Londonderry.  In June 2017, Blythefield Primary School became the first School of Sanctuary in Belfast, and provided great encouragement for those new schools starting the process to become Schools of Sanctuary in 2017/2018 academic year.

The total number of Schools of Sanctuary now stands at 26.

All the following schools are within the areas covered by Northern Ireland Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative

Blythefield Primary School

Malone Integrated College

Donegall Road Primary School

Elmgrove Primary School

Holy Evangelists’ Primary School

St Kieran’s Primary School

Christ the Redeemer Primary School

G00d Shepherd Primary School

Mercy College

Holy Cross Girls Primary School

Sacred Heart Boys Primary School

Fane Street Primary School

St Matthew’s Primary School

Mercy Primary School

St Malachy’s Primary School

Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School

Scoil na Fuiseoige

Belfast Boys Model School

Our Lady’s Girls’ Primary School

Ligoniel Primary School

Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin

And in Derry/Londonderry

Nazareth House Primary School

St Cecilia’s College

Fountain Primary School

Long Tower Primary School

Our teams have experienced a friendly welcome, warmth and hospitality and a spirit of inclusion within the school environment of each of these schools. A common idea that was shared by all these schools was that diversity is something to be proud of and that this type of open-mindedness and inclusive learning will equip children not only for their school years but also beyond the school environment. You can access the route to becoming a School of Sanctuary, see