Blythefield Primary School in South Belfast will be the first primary school in Northern Ireland to attain ‘School of Sanctuary’ status. Principal Catherine Roulston made the announcement to parents and guests, including First Minister, the Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster and Junior Minister Megan Fearon, at the official opening of the new school community garden.
The new garden was funded through the NI Executive’s Urban Villages initiative and transformed a previously unused space within the school courtyard into a “an amazing outdoor classroom”.
“We wanted to create an outdoor classroom that would not only be inspiring for our pupils but would also be a beautiful sanctuary,” said Mrs Roulston.
“This amazing new outdoor classroom provides opportunities across the curriculum for science investigation, mini-beast hotels, a musical wall, a reading sanctuary… the possibilities are endless. I know the pupils can’t wait to get out to the garden and use this space.”
The school has also been chosen by the Education Authority to be the pilot school in the School of Sanctuary initiative. A School of Sanctuary is a school that helps its students, staff and wider community understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary and to extend a welcome to everyone as equal, valued members of the school community.
“The School of Sanctuary initiative presents an opportunity to celebrate not only the cultures of the children who join our school as newcomers but also to celebrate and learn about the cultures of children who live in this community,” said Mrs Roulston.
Officially opening the new school garden, the First Minister added: “It gives me great pleasure to officially open this wonderful new garden at Blythefield Primary School.
“Initiatives such as this are a great example of how an underused space has been transformed into a hub for innovative learning and a place which will inspire and bring people together.”
Caption: Education Authority Director of Children and Young People’s Services Dr Clare Mangan, second left, at the official opening of Blythefield PS’s new school community garden. The garden was opened by Junior Minister Megan, left, and First Minister Arlene Foster. Also pictured is Blythefield PS principal Catherine Roulston.