The Bluecoat Beechdale Academy was awarded its prestigious School of Sanctuary last month and on Wednesday 10th November they celebrated their achievement in style! The school is in one of the most deprived areas of Nottingham but their ethos of believe, belong and achieve are perfect for a school of sanctuary where a culture of ambition has been established regardless of pupils background. BBC East Midlands Today was there to record the celebrations and you can watch it here. Fast forward to 8 minutes in.
The award certificate was presented by Sian Hampton, Chief Executive Officer of the Archway Learning Trust, to the Principal, Sarah Bailey and Maria Lacovera the EAL lead who was instrumental in writing the application. The audience consisted of all the sanctuary seeking pupils plus a few members of staff but the day more than anything was for the pupils. Sian started off her speech with the words “Every school should be a school of sanctuary”. We totally agree! The school sees this award as the start of a journey and are already mapping out where they will be going next.
The visit by the assessment team started with a presentation from Sarah Bailey outlining the values and ethos of the school. It was clear that the work to become and remain a school of sanctuary is in line with the schools’ improvement plans for this year and beyond. Senior leaders are fully involved and supportive of the application and the ongoing work to be a school of sanctuary.
School staff were passionate about the schools’ values of equality, diversity and justice and it was clear from our discussions that these were threads that wove throughout the curriculum in all subject areas, part of assemblies and tutor periods and beyond to extra curriculum activities. The messages were delivered by staff in a variety of ways but also meaningfully engaged with by students.
Our tour around the school confirmed that these values are also represented in displays around the school; for example the science department has inspirational scientists from a diverse range of backgrounds.
The school works hard to value students who have English as an additional language. They ensure that their English competence is quickly assessed and that they are given appropriate help to catch up but also they encouraged to share their own languages. Their multi-linguistic abilities are celebrated and encouraged.
Parents of EAL students are carefully matched with staff to ensure that messages are clearly communicated and that families feel supported and helped. There is support available to provide all that a child starting at BBA would need in order to access every part of the curriculum.
A highlight of the visit was meeting the wonderful students. Their discussion with us was open and honest and it was clear that the school fosters healthy and robust learning behaviours where mistakes are owned and learned from. The students eloquently shared the difficulties they had encountered in becoming part of the school community, along with the measures the school has in place to support them. The students knew where to obtain help and felt able to ask for it.
It was clear to the assessment team that both staff and pupils at Beechdale Bluecoat Academy work to ensure that the schools’ application to become a school of sanctuary is not just a plan on paper, but an on-going, lived reality. We had no doubt about confirming the success of their application and would like to thank all those who took part in the visit. It was a privilege to meet them all.