A Visit from Dr. Waheed Arian

April 5th, 2017  Tagged , ,

We had a very special guest in school today: Dr. Waheed Arian.

Dr. Arian came to talk to pupils in Years 4-6 about how, as a teenage boy, he came to England to seek refuge on account of the war in Afghanistan.  He talked about his dream to become a doctor, what inspired this dream and the determination that led him to succeed.  He also talked about the charity that he has set up (Teleheal) – a charity that provides support and guidance to doctors in countries at war.

The visit was filmed by the BBC as they are making a documentary about the work that Dr Arian is doing.

The children were highly engaged.  They got to speak to Dr. Arian’s nephews in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul.  They also asked lots of really interesting questions to Dr. Arian about his life and work.

We feel privileged to have had Dr. Arian into school.  He was a great inspiration for the children, with this best summed up by something he said during his talk: “Dream big. Work hard. Be determined.”

Sanctuary Buddies

March 28th, 2017  Tagged

Some of our pupils from Years 3-5 received training recently on how to be a ‘Sanctuary Buddy’.  Children are given ‘buddies’ in the classroom to help them to settle, but the job of these children will be to help integrate newly-arrived pupils into our school community by making sure that they are happy and safe during playtimes.

Refugee Support Service

February 1st, 2017  Tagged , , , , ,

Today’s staff meeting was led by Jenny and Sue for the Refugee Support Service that is based locally on High Park Street.  They came to talk to staff about the work they do in supporting refugees and asylum seekers.  They provided many insights into the issues faced by those people who have to flee their own countries in order to seek refuge and safety in another.  Staff found it both informative and thought-provoking.  We have already begun to build strong links with the organisation, and are looking to extend these in order to develop our pupils’ understanding and awareness of these important matters.

Rights and Responsibilities

January 31st, 2017  Tagged , ,

This week, Ruth Harlow (a final-year drama student) begun an eight-week, drama-based workshop programme on children’s rights and responsibilities.  She will be doing these sessions with pupils from Year 4 and Year 5.  The work will form part of Ruth’s degree study.  For our children, it will provide an insight into important issues around ‘human rights’ and help them to develop an understanding of their place in the wider world.  We are looking forward to seeing how the children’s thinking develops along the way and seeing the results of their learning in the performance that will come at the end of the sessions.

Sanctuary @ St Silas

January 17th, 2017  Tagged , , , ,

As a school, St Silas has a proud history of offering help to both pupils and their families.  For many years, we have provided specific support to pupils who are new to English, families who are new to the area or who are staying on a short-term basis, and pupils with specific learning needs.  We have been a haven for pupils from a whole range of backgrounds, serving a community of many different ethnic origins and, in doing so, have demonstrated how a multi-cultural society can not only work – but flourish.

At the start of this academic year, we decided that we would apply for ‘sanctuary status’, knowing that we already did lots to assist with the well-being of our pupils and their families.  However, we also believed that we could do far more if we focussed our efforts.  This blog is to let people know what we’ve been doing in order to develop this area of our school.

We set up a steering group, deciding that regular meetings would ensure that things progressed.  We began by asking all classes to spend a lesson discussing the idea of sanctuary: what it means and the many reasons why people need the help and support of others.  We realised that keeping track of new pupils and getting secure information about them can be very hard due to the great mobility that we have, with pupils arriving and leaving school on a regular basis.  To help new pupils settle into school and help teachers plan for them, we have started to write an Induction Procedure that will aim to gather accurate pupil information and provide better pupil support on their arrival, as well as offering avenues of support for their families.

To do this, we have started to make links with lots of outside agencies so that we are aware of the support that is available in the city.  As part of this process, we had a clothing collection that we donated to Family Refugee Support Service.  We also decided that, as a staff, we would donate money to this same charity instead of sending Christmas cards to each other, telling pupils and parents that they could do the same if they wanted.  From this, we raised £105 that was gladly received by the organisation.  In addition, we gave food hampers and presents to some of our families who we felt may benefit from them.

We have been gathering information from both the local and national press about issues relevant to the work that we are doing.  From one of these articles, Mrs Cassim was able to make contact with an organisation (The Children and War Foundation) who help children who are suffering from trauma.  The organisation kindly donated resources and offered Mrs Cassim a place on a course that they are running.

We have also made links with Asylum Link and Autism Adventures.  The former have offered to come into school to talk to the children about issues faced by families who are seeking refuge; the latter have offered to come into school to run family workshops around supporting children with autism and run a staff awareness session.

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January 11th, 2017

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