WITH the plight of refugees never far from the news, schools in Bradford have been looking at ways to make those living in the district more welcome.

This week is Bradford Refugee Week, and to mark the event four schools were awarded with School of Sanctuary status.

To gain the status, schools need to show that they teach about issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees, embedded this knowledge in the curriculum and daily life of the school and spread the word of welcome and inclusion out into the community.

The schools named Schools of Sanctuary this week were St Cuthbert and the First Martyr’s Catholic Primary School, Oasis Academy Lister Park, Dixons City Academy and Grange Technology College. It takes the number of schools in Bradford to have the status to six, joining Horton Grange Primary School and Carlton Bolling College.

And a number of other schools are currently working towards the status.

The four schools have each taken very different steps to welcome refugees, from holding welcome days to providing aid packages and holding English classes for refuge parents.

Dixons Kings Academy had set up a Syrian Action Team of students to help refugees from the war torn country. In April they held a welcome evening in the school, where around 50 refugees enjoyed a meal, were given aid packages and got to meet other refugees and groups that could support them.

At the event, student Mariam Maiya said: “We wanted refugees to feel welcome and not feel segregated, to feel like they belong in the community.”

St Cuthbert’s worked with the Red Cross on a project called Refugee Boys, which busted myths about refugees and asylum seekers, and worked on ways to include new immigrant communities in school life.

Head Rachel Winnery said: “We’ve been doing a lot of these things for a while, but applying for this status was bringing the strands together and having it officially recognised.

“We recognise and celebrate the wonderful contributions made by all our children and families to our school community, including new arrivals to our city.”

At Oasis Academy Lister Park students learned what it means to “seek sanctuary,” why people become refugees and why many need protection and help.

Pupils at the school have raised over £1,800 for Harvest for Hope, a nationwide campaign to provide for refugees, by hosting various events and opening their doors to the wider community.

Assistant Principal Azam Ali, said: “Bradford has a rich history of being a welcoming city to those seeking sanctuary. We feel that it is important that our pupils are not only aware of this but are able to help make their communities even more open and inclusive.”

Grange Technology College is one of the schools with a number of refugee and asylum seekers attending, and pupils and staff have raised money to help the most vulnerable of these families. They also run sessions for parents and families of refugee students.

Nazmin Din, community development officer at the school, said: “Some of these families have very little, so we help them with things like clothing.

“We’ve also done plenty in the school to raise awareness of the plight of refugees.

“It is all about being able to give people a bit more dignity. We’re making the school a more inclusive place and providing support for these families.”

The schools have also contributed artwork to an exhibition running in an empty shop unit in John Street in Bradford City Centre until Saturday. Titled Welcome, the exhibition features a variety of artwork by pupils, refugees and the families of refugees.