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Refugee Welcome Schools

Refugee Welcome Schools

Millions of people across the globe are refugees fleeing conflict or persecution. Refugees arrive to the UK through a range of routes, and when these families arrive, schools become crucial places of welcome, orientation and integration. Your school can help refugees integrate into the local community, and in turn help the community to welcome refugees.

Our Asks

Our accreditation scheme is run in partnership with NASUWT with the aim to recognise the schools making a commitment to:

  • Welcome refugees in their institution and community.;
  • Educate pupils and staff about the importance of refugee protection over the course of the school year.;
  • Participate in campaigns to improve the lives of refugees in the UK.

In order to become a Refugee Welcome School, you must submit an application form with details of how you can meet the above three commitments.

Your application will be scrutinised by a Refugee Welcome Schools Panel, made up of teachers, representatives of the UCL Institute of Education, trades unionists and refugees themselves. Accredited schools gain access to the Refugee Welcome Schools Network and additional resources.

Key facts and figures

  • 37 schools across England and Wales have made a commitment to welcome refugees.
  • Pupils have proudly taken on the role of befrienders to their new classmates from refugee backgrounds. Student bodies have learnt about the importance of compassion, leading by example and living by one's values - vital lessons for the next generation.
  • Teachers and staff have told us that they find the accreditation process helpful because it encouraged them to think of practical ways in which they could further the school's inclusive ethos and reduce barriers for parents who have limited English. For example, they now use email much more frequently than letters to communicate with parents, so that non-English speakers can translate the text on their phones and be kept informed more easily.

A brief history of the campaign

Citizens UK launched the Refugee Welcome Schools initiative in 2016 when prompted by some of the schools in its membership - such as Saint Gabriel's College in South London - who were looking for concrete ways to develop a welcoming culture within their schools, ensuring that the responsibility of assisting pupils from refugee backgrounds is shared and celebrated across the school.

Now, having joined forces with the teachers' union, NASUWT, we aim to promote the Refugee Welcome Schools model across the UK, including to schools which are not currently in membership of a local Citizens alliance. We hope to grow a movement of pupils, teachers, school leaders, trade unionists and community organisers across the country working together to make our schools and communities places of welcome.


Nansen Primary School

Arena Academy

Selly Oak Community School

St Francis Catholic Primary School

Rockwood Academy

Jewellery Quarter Academy


St David's Catholic College

Cathays High School

Fitzalan High School

Bishop of Llandaff


Moat Community College

Ashby School

Ivanhoe College

Bosworth Academy

Braunstone Frith Primary

Countesthorpe Academy

Kingsway Primary School

City of Leicester College

Soar Valley College

Ibstock Community College

Winstanley School


William Alvey School


Newman Catholic College

Leyton Sixth Form College

St Gabriel's College

King's College University

St Mark's CofE Academy


Jubilee Wood Primary School

MK College

St. Paul’s Catholic School

Brooklands Farm Primary School

Lord Grey School

Pepper Hill School

Stanton School

The Radcliffe School


Bicester School


Cardinal Newman Catholic High School

What those involved say

Find out how 13 schools in Leicester & Leicestershire Citizens took action to become refugee welcome schools. Read more

Parents, pupils and school staff alike wanted to respond to the ongoing refugee crisis in a concrete way. As an inclusive Christian school with students of different faiths, languages and cultures, we are already quite good at welcoming students who arrive from other countries. But by working together we discussed what a young refugee would need if they arrived at our school and what we could do to improve their experiences. Oliwia

Schools that sign up promise to teach their pupils about refugees and provide a welcome to refugee students, including English language support, a school 'buddy' and welcome activities. If we can do this, so can other schools. We hope to set an example of best practice for how schools across the UK can treat refugees. Megan

How you can get involved

Whether you are a Headteacher, a school Governor, student, parent or teacher you can help turn your school into an accredited Refugee Welcome School. Start by building a team of people representing different parts of the school community and, together, go through the Application Form to discuss how you will go about meeting the different criteria to demonstrate your commitment to becoming a place of welcome.

Schools are encouraged to think about the unique ways in which they can fulfill the criteria - what works well for one school may not work for another. Here is some guidance you can access:

  • If you are part of, or close to, a Citizens UK local chapter you can contact your local Community Organiser for support.
  • If your teaching staff is linked to NASUWT you can approach your Union Representative for support.
  • For ideas on how to raise awareness of refugee issues in the classrooms, teachers can access this useful toolkit.
  • You can take a look at this list of ideas of "actions" or campaigns that your school can be involved in outside of the school gates.


For more information, contact Jess Maddocks, Community Organiser leading on the Refugee Welcome Schools initiative.