Schools are organising their students to meet up with asylum seekers as part of a woke diversity scheme, GB News can reveal.
The “befriending days” are arranged as children are encouraged by staff to “campaign” for refugees’ rights.
Pupils then created two plays comparing a refugee’s refusal of asylum in modern-day Britain to the Biblical story of Jesus being denied by Peter the Apostle.
More than 400 schools and nurseries across the country are signed up to the scheme called Schools of Sanctuary which promotes looser migration policies.
Two Tory MPs have told GB News that the actions of the network could be seen to amount to the “indoctrination” of kids, but Schools of Sanctuary told this broadcaster that its programme “supports schools to talk factually about the different reasons people may have been forced to flee” and that they “do not promote a political perspective.”
Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith said: “It’s disturbing to find out that far-left groups have been encouraging this sort of political activism and the concept of open borders in our schools.
“Children should hear all sides of an issue, not face indoctrination from left-wing campaigning charities.
“Many parents will be concerned enough about school places as it is, so actively supporting causes that will make this situation worse in oversubscribed areas has real life consequences.”
Schools of Sanctuary, an offshoot of the Cities of Sanctuary charity, describes itself as a network that “supports the thousands of young people seeking sanctuary” and “raises awareness of the issues facing people in the asylum system, challenges misconceptions and builds social cohesion”.
Its website says this is “driven” by teachers, school staff, parents, governors and community groups.
Schools are encouraged to sign up to the scheme and are provided with step-by-step guides on how to implement change.
A minimum criteria is also provided including evidence of “migration learning activities are included into school life” and participation in “celebratory events which highlight the contribution of refugees and migrants to the UK” such as Refugee Week.
Nurseries and schools are provided with suggested activities including setting up a lunchtime club to campaign for refugees’ rights and meet-ups.
Students at a school in Lincolnshire, which is featured on the Schools of Sanctuary resource pack, met young refugees from Leicester and Leeds on “befriending day”.
Louth Town Council gave a “generous grant” of taxpayers’ money to help with the meet-up.
During Lent in Birmingham, a group of Catholic primary schools were taught about “themes of sanctuary through the lens of catholic social justice teaching”.
Pupils spent a week on the project which was based on the story from the Bible of Peter’s denial of Jesus after he was captured at the Garden of Gethsemane and how that could be linked to the denial of refugees to enter the UK in present time.
Children then created plays on both stories.
Miriam Cates, Conservative MP for Penistone and Stockbridge and also a former teacher, said: “Schools are there to educate children and prepare them for work, not to promote political ideologies.
Penistone & Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates
“Protecting children from indoctrination is a fundamental democratic value and the Department for Education must ensure that the law is enforced.”
In one nursery signed up to the network in Brighton, the group bragged that staff members went on anti-racist courses to learn about unconscious bias and microaggressions.
The staff in Sussex then created an anti-racist pledge and reordered the toys in the nursery to make them fit the “experience of colour.”
Elsewhere, Earlson Primary School in Coventry celebrated becoming a school of sanctuary with Labour MP Zarah Sultana giving awards to the children.
Another school in Lewisham went on a protest march to the Department of Education.
In materials provided by Schools of Sanctuary and seen by GB News, a local organiser for the group called on schools signed up to the network to “speak up” against the government’s Illegal Migration Bill.
Another document advertised a talk on asylum seekers in Calais and encouraged school libraries to buy copies of a book by the talk’s author for pupils to read.
The network has also provided a booklet of definitions which says “refugees are internally displaced within their own countries or living in neighbouring countries” and that “very few reach UK shores”.
Migrants, picked up at sea attempting to cross the English Channel, are helped ashore from an Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat
It also says there is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker and everyone has the right to have their claim to asylum considered.
Schools of Sanctuary also adopt the term ‘People Seeking Sanctuary’ which is preferred in recognition of the “dehumanising rhetoric” which it says can occur when referring to people by their immigration status.
On the UK section of the booklet it says “the UK asylum system is deliberately hostile to people seeking sanctuary, with thousands of people waiting months - and even years - for a decision”.
The Schools of Sanctuary programme is reliant on funding from grants and NGOs. In its most recent accounts, it received £50,000 from the Paul Hamlyn foundation, which in turn has received £1.36 million in taxpayers’ money since 2020.
A spokeswoman for St Mary’s Lewisham Church of England Primary School in South East London said: “We believe it is entirely appropriate for children to be aware of political issues and to think about the impact of these on the most disadvantaged in our society.
“We encourage our children to be critical thinkers and we do not promote any one-sided version of any issues.
“Children know that they are fortunate to live in a country where they can express their views freely and have constructive discussions about current affairs.”
Schools of Sanctuary added that they are not directly involved with the activities that schools develop and that its programme doesn’t offer outreach or activities in schools.