St Mary’s Ukrainian School

← Back | Last updated on 15 Jul 2022

About Organisation

"Since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, St. Mary’s school has welcomed hundreds of displaced children and their families with a total of 950 for the academic year 2022/2023. To accommodate the growing number of students, the school has expanded rapidly and is now operating from nine different settings, which include 5 school locations in London and Satellite St Mary's Ukrainian schools in Woking, Tunbridge Wells (Kent), Richmond and Kingston. Staffing has increased significantly and today we have a great team of 127 educational professionals with 82% of the new staff recruited being displaced teachers from Ukraine.

Displaced Ukrainian children and families fleeing the war in Ukraine carry with them the individual and collective grief of war, destruction, violence and family separation. St Mary’s Ukrainian school has become the shelter and safe place for these children and families helping them to recover from loss and other traumatic experiences and reconnect with their peers who share the same language, culture and Ukrainian heritage.

St Mary’s has worked incredibly hard at building community links and mobilising resources. Trust is closely interlinked with trauma. Families had lost trust in everyone. Building that trust needs a holistic approach. On Saturdays, our Class tutors have been building strong and open bonds with our students and always find time to be a listening ear when needed. Our Family Support worker is available throughout a week if parents need support. Since May, we have been training our staff to be trauma trained so they are able to recognise signs of trauma to provide support. With support from Children and War charity, International Rescue committee, experiences from the trauma-informed schools in Westminster, we managed to equip our staff with very useful techniques and instruments to manage their own and their pupils' trauma. Unfortunately, while the war in Ukraine continues, we can only support them in their every day fight with trauma and the healing process can start however new traumatic experiences might still take over.

In the afternoons, until 4:30 pm, children do therapeutic learning such as Art and Music, Dancing and Clay making, football and photography; there are trips and holiday clubs. 6th form students from St Paul's school support as volunteers, building more bridges with local communities. Singing in the choir, which performed at the “Royal Carols: Together at Christmas” event, is helping to overpower traumatic memories.

Ukrainian children are a vulnerable group today, who need a strategic approach in their enrichment. Often with limited finances, just one room to share with siblings and mom, limited social circle, without help from us these children will either stay on social media most of their leisure time or end up in the streets and with wrong groups. In order to protect young people who may be at risk of violence and exploitation, St Mary’s set up a new Saturday afternoon program for our teenage students. The program increases the capacity of the current provision of structured English lessons by adding Conversational sessions and is focused on Finance Literacy. The aim of the program is to get our young adults off the streets on Saturday afternoons and to teach them to understand and effectively use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing while improving their English as well. On Tuesdays and Fridays, we run GCSE tuition sessions. Every half-term and holiday break, we run holiday provision for younger children and teenagers.

Ukraine inevitably relies on these children who are most expected to return to Ukraine after the war is over, feeling happy and inspired again. We see them as the future of Ukraine and a generation that will enable Ukraine to rebuild its society and economy over the years to come.

“Refugees bring more than they can carry”. Our ambition is to help displaced Ukrainians navigate the unfamiliar environment they find themselves in, enable them to access existing opportunities independently and thrive in them. As families arrive in the UK, overpowered by language barriers, trauma, a loss of status, source of income and support network, many struggle to settle. To help them regain freedom, dignity, and control, they need a safe, welcoming community; help navigating local systems; and effective signposting to available support – all delivered by people with an understanding of both systems and cultures, and the ability to build trust and rapport. This is what St Mary's do as part of our New Space project on Tuesdays and Fridays.

In crisis like this one, St Mary's Ukrainian school has moved miles beyond being an extra education provider. Today, we form part of holistic education supporting displaced Ukrainian children and growing a diverse British community.

Together with Local Authorities and other charities we are taking these children onto their new, brighter journey – building their future with HAPPY moments in the present!”

St Mary’s Ukrainian School
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154 Holland Park Avenue
London, W11 4UH
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