WHAT IS A RIGHTS RESPECTING SCHOOL?
The UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) is based on principles of equality, dignity, respect, non-discrimination and participation. The RRSA seeks to put the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of a school’s ethos and culture to improve well-being and develop every child’s talents and abilities to their full potential.
A rights-respecting school is a community where children’s rights are learned, taught, practised, respected, protected and promoted. Young people and the school community learn about children’s rights by putting them into practice every day.
We feel it is important that when children learn about their rights it is important that deeper connections are also made in their understanding about the nature of rights so they are taught the ABCDE of their rights.
What are the children’s rights?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, or UNCRC, is the basis of all of Unicef’s work. It is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history.
The Convention has 54 articles that cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. It also explains how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children can enjoy all their rights. Every child has rights, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status.
Each class chooses an article (or articles) from UNCRC to display in their classroom. The children are actively involved in choosing articles that they want to form the basis of their charter.
Each charter outlines what the children agree to do to ensure the rights are advocated and also what adults (duty bearers) will do to ensure the rights are upheld for every child.
Children and adults who work in the classroom sign the charter in some way e.g. a picture of themselves, a symbol that represents them or their name.
The charters are then referred to throughout the year and this helps to ensure that the children continually have their rights met.
Rights Respecting School Award
The Award is not just about what children do but also importantly what adults do. In Rights Respecting Schools, children’s rights are promoted and realised and adults and children work towards this together. The award is gained through a structured journey of achieving bronze, silver and gold awards.
Being a Right’s Respecting School, we want the children of Ellington to know that they are an important part of making the world a better place, starting with their immediate environment.
A whole school approach is taken to place children’s rights at the heart of our school policies, practice and values. The desired impact of this is that children:
- Feel happier in themselves
- Become active and engaged citizens
- Know how to feel safe in school
- Develop supportive and respectful relationships towards peers and adults
UNICEF has shown that when children are taught about their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they are more respectful of the rights of others and may show this through:
- Improved self-esteem and feelings of being valued and listened to.
- Increased levels of respect for each other, leading to improved relationships with other pupils and with staff.
- A sense of security as rights-respecting language and behaviour is used consistently throughout the school.
- Improved attainment and attendance, and a reduction in exclusions.
- An understanding and respect of religions, cultures, beliefs and abilities different to their own.
- A wider and deeper understanding of the world in which they live.
How can adults support their child to learn about the Convention at home?
- Take the time to ask your child what he/she has learnt recently regarding children’s rights and how they may show respect for those rights.
- Discuss the ideas learned in class and try to think of examples of their own experiences, or from the media, of rights being respected or denied.
- Discuss how your child or your family can promote respect for rights, or help those whose rights have been violated.
- Model using rights and respect language with your children.
- Ask your child’s opinion on children’s rights.