Further Education Colleges of Sanctuary is an initiative to celebrate the good practice of FE Colleges who foster a culture of welcome and belonging for all, especially students with asylum seeking and refugee backgrounds. 

On 1st December 2023, EPNE signed the pledge as a supporting organisation, committing to the below: 

  • Take positive action to embed principle of welcome, safety and inclusion within the whole college community. 
  • Ensure an excellent and equitable experience from pre-enrolment to on-programme through to progression opportunities. 
  • Provide training and awareness-raising opportunities for all staff on refugee, asylum, trafficking and migration issues. 
  • Raise awareness of sanctuary issues amongst students and the wider community. 
  • Recognise and celebrate the contribution of people seeking sanctuary and migrants to the UK, including marking events such as Refugee Week across the college. 
  • Promote, encourage and empower ESOL students through active student voice and projects within college and the local community. 
  • Develop a sustainable culture of welcome by actively widening participation to people seeking sanctuary. 

Toni Rhodes, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Education Partnership North East said: “We are delighted that we can formally share our pledge of commitment to achieving Sanctuary status.  

 “By creating an environment that is welcoming and safe and by providing the support that is much needed, it enables individuals to achieve the best possible outcomes and their own ambitions. For many seeking sanctuary, the experience they have at college will shape their lives significantly now and in the future.” 

 As a college group, EPNE are committed to supporting the College of Sanctuary’s charter and organisational values, including inclusivity, openness, participation, inspiration, and integrity, so that they can play a significant role in our region, to support building a more welcoming environment for people seeking sanctuary and migrants to the UK. 

In working towards becoming a College of Sanctuary, there are a series of processes to learn, embed and share about asylum, refugee and migration issues and twelve minimum criteria must be met. 

By signing the pledge, EPNE endorse the City of Sanctuary Charter and agree to act in accordance with City of Sanctuary values and apply the network principles within their work.  

This means a college is committed to providing support and education to people seeking sanctuary and contributing to a culture of welcome within the community. 

 As a learning institution, colleges have an important role in fostering a culture of safety, respect and understanding for new students who are seeking sanctuary and can lead by example locally. 

 Vice Principal of Curriculum, Kendra Kirby said: “As anchor institutions in the communities we serve, EPNE is committed to creating a culture of welcome, dignity and support to refugees and those seeking sanctuary. We believe that wherever we come from we all have a right to feel safe.  

“EPNE has pledged to join the movement of welcome and ensure through transformational education opportunities, those seeking sanctuary will thrive and have positive futures in the North East.” 

Being a College of Sanctuary means recognising and celebrating the achievements of students seeking sanctuary, as well as raising awareness across the college community. 

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19