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Loreto Wexford - School of Sanctuary Portfolio

by Michelle Jordan

Pages 4 and 5 of 65

Loreto Wexford - School of Sanctuary Portfolio
Loreto Wexford
Since 1866 Loreto Wexford has been dedicated to furthering girls' education in Wexford. Loreto Wexford has seen many transformations throughout the years, most recently with the school moving to its new home in Pembroke Hill.

Loreto Wexfords committee has grown in recent years with over 900 students currently enrolled.

Our school ethos aims to promote Mary Ward's values of Truth, freedom, justice, sincerity and joy
We have begun our journey in Loreto, Wexford to become a School of Sanctuary. A School of Sanctuary is a school that is committed to creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment that benefits everybody, especially families seeking sanctuary. It is a school that helps its students, staff, parents, and the wider community to understand what it means to be a refugee and to extend a welcome to everyone regardless of their immigration status. Schools of Sanctuary is not a project, nor a short-term school initiative. It is a culture that schools achieve over time to ensure everyone feels welcomed, safe, and included in the school and beyond.
A Message From Our Principal, Mr. John McGinnity:
As a school, we are proud to welcome over 900 students to Loreto, Wexford each day. Each student has their own unique life story, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to guide them through their secondary education. Our school is one that welcomes diversity, innovation and creativity. As a school community, we welcome students from many different areas, and we believe strongly in promoting a school that is inclusive, welcoming and embracing of difference. Indeed, it is the contribution of all members of the school community which makes it such a vibrant place. 

At its heart, a school of sanctuary seeks to provide a school environment that is safe, caring and compassionate. These values rest at the centre of what we try to achieve in our daily interactions. We hope that this portfolio gives you a sense of the wonderful work happening here. I thank all involved in making our school what it is today, and I hope you enjoy reading our book!
Inclusion Committee
Our Inclusion Committee in Loreto aims to create a safe space for students to celebrate our differences and help ensure everyone feels included and accepted in Loreto Wexford.

For the 22/23 school year we welcomed thirty-eight new and old members, including students and teachers.
Our aims for the school year are as follows:

Term 1 – LGBT Stand-Up Awareness Week
Term 2 – Multicultural Week & World Hijab Day
Term 3 – Members of our group can pick a topic of their choice that they feel passionate about for the final term. This year we will focus on Down Syndrome Awareness

Interviews with Ms. M. Jordan are held during the school year where students can share their stories or issues they have dealt with or are passionate about. These will be shared with the school community through the school newsletter under the regular section 'Diverse Voices'.
Diverse Voices
An important job of the Inclusion Committee is to give everyone a voice. Sometimes we might unintentionally overlook the voices of those from a minority group and miss a valuable chance to learn more about our wonderfully diverse school community. In November we celebrate Stand-Up Week
This initiative supports members of the LGBTQ+ community within our school. A range of activities took place throughout the week, culminating in students wearing a rainbow accessory to school.
Diverse Voices
Name: Aoife Byrne 
Age: 13 
Year: Second Year, 2.1 
Home: Castlebridge 
Favourite Food: Pasta 
Favourite TV Show: Heartstopper from Netflix 
Favourite Subject: History 
Favourite Hobby: Horse riding 
What I Like about School:  The diversity of the school population 
Inclusion Committee:
I joined this committee because I wanted to help people express who they really are. In my primary school, it felt like everybody wanted to be the same and they were afraid to show their differences. I want to help people celebrate their differences.  

Aspect of Inclusion: 
I feel most passionate about the LGBTQ aspect of inclusion. I’m part of the community myself. People are often mistreated simply because of their sexual orientation, and this may go unnoticed by people who aren’t members of the community. An example would be parents not wanting their daughters to be friends with us or refusing to meet us simply because we’re members of the LGBTQ+ community.   
Stand Up Week:

I have mixed feelings about the week.  

Some people in my community feel it’s lovely to see the flags displayed and to have teachers start a positive conversation about the meaning of the week. It’s an opportunity for everyone to learn. For example, we heard this week that an alarmingly high number, 76% of LGBTQ+ students, do not feel safe at school in Ireland. I don’t feel this is an accurate reflection of our school which is mainly open. Unfortunately, I am aware that this is not the case in every school and this needs to be addressed. 

But others feel like there is a danger that the week could just be tokenism if people go back to behaving in a negative way once the week is over. The aim is to make the school a happier and safer place for members of my community, where they can openly talk about their partners without it being a big deal, where they can openly express themselves and be who they are without having to analyse or explain. And to be able to do that every week of the school year, not just Stand-Up Week. 
My Message LGBTQ+: 
Our sexual orientation shouldn’t have any impact on how we are judged as people. 
I understand that people might feel afraid of saying the wrong thing or using the wrong terminology but if people are open to learning, nobody will judge them for mistakes made about flags of phrases. 

Treat people with respect. If you don’t like their way of life leave them be, but don’t judge.