School of Sanctuary award and EAL Provision
Blaise High School – A Bristol City School of Sanctuary
School of Sanctuary is a national network of over 300 primary and secondary schools all committed to creating a culture of welcome and inclusion for refugees and people seeking asylum.
Driven by teachers, school staff, parents, governors and community groups, this network supports the thousands of young people seeking sanctuary in the UK, raises awareness of the issues facing people in the asylum system, challenges misconceptions and builds social cohesion.
We are extremely proud that Blaise High School has been awarded School of Sanctuary Status by empowering EAL students to achieve their full potential, promoting equality of opportunity, and delivering a broad and balanced curriculum. We ensure that all students feel welcome, safe and valued, and able to fulfil their ambitions.
To achieve this vision, we celebrate the multilingualism of our students and find opportunities in the curriculum, displays and in extracurricular events to recognise the importance of speaking different languages. We recognise that it is important for EAL students to be proud of their first language and to be given opportunities to continue to use it to support their learning. Each month we celebrate a different home language with a display in our atrium and video that is shared with students. We celebrate Refugee Week with student-led assemblies and are looking forward to attending the Bristol City of Sanctuary’s ‘Show Your Heart’ event, a flotilla and procession to demonstrate the city of Bristol’s support for a compassionate and forward-looking approach to people seeking sanctuary in our city.
We ensure that students with EAL are assessed as soon as they arrive at school and receive the appropriate support in the school to acquire the English language skills they need to fully access the curriculum as quickly and effectively as possible.
We recognise that the Equality Act 2010 places obligations on the school not to discriminate on grounds of any protected characteristics, and to promote good relations between students from different backgrounds. We want students with EAL to be able to take a full part in the life of the school and to feel included in the classroom and in all day-to-day activities.
The School of Sanctuary wrote in their Bristol School and Colleges of Sanctuary Newsletter:
Congratulations to Blaise High School, who were awarded the status in August. They have done a phenomenal amount of work developing their EAL Policy and practice, and in particular providing a welcome for refugee students on the Resettlement Scheme. They undertook a staff survey on awareness of refugee issues, and their EAL Coordinator worked with teaching staff to develop an excellent KS3 Science project with a video, developing resources for scaffolded EAL learning, which were shared, and then a similar process started with other curriculum areas. They invited Forward Maisokwadzo from City of Sanctuary to speak with their Student Council, started a Young Interpreters’ scheme and celebrated Mother Languages Day, and are now moving forward with a comprehensive action plan developed by an active staff group and a link governor who will ensure that the work is embedded as part of strategic planning going forward.
The BCOS appraisal panel said that
"The school is demonstrating that there is a lot of work going into creating a culture of welcome for children from sanctuary seeking backgrounds. There also appears to be high aspirations to improve educational outcomes for refugee and asylum-seeking children, and a willingness to foster a sense of belonging and improve the day-to-day experience for those children, by reaching out to other services supporting refugees in Bristol."
Encouragement to use first language
We aim to create an atmosphere where students feel confident about using their first language in school. They are encouraged to use it for learning and socialising, and being multilingual is seen by everyone as a great thing. Parents and carers are encouraged to foster the development of their children’s first language at home. We celebrate this by having a Language of the Term competition, where students and staff are challenged to learn five greetings and count to ten, in a language that is new to them. So far we have learnt greetings in Polish, Arabic and Portuguese.
Valuing Language and Heritage
At Blaise High School, students see examples of their culture, language and heritage in the visual environment in displays, books, resources and in the curriculum. Our school library has an impressive collection of books that reflect the cultural diversity of our school. We work with parents to ensure children’s multilingualism is valued and developed both at home and in school and that students are confident about their heritage. Students are given the opportunity to gain a GCSE in their home languages.
Until our EAL students reach academic fluency, the acquisition of English is continually assessed and monitored, using materials designed for this purpose. We are aware that standardised assessments may be more a test of knowledge of English than subject knowledge for EAL learners and hence we take this into account while interpreting the results when students are at the early stages of English acquisition.
We are ambitious for students and have high expectations: EAL learners will acquire English quickly and make faster progress, on average, in learning than their monolingual peers, when given the right support. All subject teachers understand the needs of the EAL learners in their classes and scaffold learning so that their students can access the mainstream curriculum even at the earliest stages of English acquisition. Students are also given access to the relevant ICT/translation resources to support their learning.
For students at the early stages of English acquisition there are intervention programmes including the opportunity to study for an IGCSE in English as an Additional language.