Rights Respecting School

Dallas Primary School: Rights Respecting School Award

What is the Rights Respecting Schools initiative?

UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting Schools initiative helps a school community to use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to help develop a clear set of values that are actively upheld by pupils.

What are children’s rights?

All human beings – adults and children alike – are entitled to basic human rights.  Children have a particular set of rights due to their vulnerability and need for protection.  The UNCRC sets out the rights that must be realised for children to develop to their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse.  These rights are not something that children need to earn or that adults and governments can take away as a punishment.  They contain the basic protection and support that all children are entitled to.  All children have the same rights, no matter what their background or where they live.

What does the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child say?

There are 42 articles in the Convention, but they can be summed up as follows:

The right to a childhood

Every child has the right to a safe childhood, protected from violence, abuse and exploitation.  Every child has the right to grow up in a family environment, free from adult responsibilities and with the right to play.

The right to an education

Every child has the right to an education that develops their personality, talents and abilities to the full.

The right to be healthy

Every child has the right to health care, clean water, nutritious food and a safe environment so they can be as healthy as possible.

The right to be treated fairly

All children have the same rights whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, abilities, whatever they think or say and whatever their family background.

Articles 29 is particularly important for schools:

Article 29: Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full.  It must encourage the child’s respect for human rights, as well as respect for their parents, their own and other cultures, and the environment.

How did we start our journey?

First of all we put the Rights Respecting Schools initiative onto our School Improvement Plan.  Then our teachers were taught about Rights Respecting Schools and talked about what we would have to do to become one.  We let parents know by sending information home in newsletters.

We gained our Recognition of Commitment (Bronze Award) in 2016. While our journey towards Gold has continued, changes in staff and our pupil roll growth has led us to postpone our assessment for Silver.

This year we have created a new a Steering Group, consisting of pupils from P1-7, staff and parents.

How are things going?

We are having assemblies which teach about rights and the UNCRC. In class, children are learning about rights and we have linked rights and expectations with class rules in a charter.

To help all children understand that every child has these rights we wrote a song, which we recorded and posted on YouTube for others to hear. Please follow this link to listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6smu9FEyOU.

Children of the world, we should all be heard,
We should have the right, to sleep safe every night
Children everywhere, have the right to good health care
Be looked after and kept safe, believe in their own faith

We all have rights
We all have rights
We all have rights
These are our rights!

Children of our Earth, should have identity from birth
The right to go to school, be protected from all things cruel
Internationally, we have the right to be free
Clean water and food for all, no poverty at all

We all have rights
We all have rights
We all have rights
These are our rights!

Children every day, have the right to rest and play
The right to a safe home, nobody left alone
Children near and far, should be provided for
Their country should decide, these rights they must abide

We all have rights
We all have rights
We all have rights
These are our rights

These are our rights
These are our rights
These are our rights
These are our rights

We already have lots of ‘Pupil Voice’ at our school, so our Pupil Councils are carrying on their good work, coming up with even more ideas to make our school a better place.

Our Rights Respecting School Steering Group is busy linking displays around the school to the Children’s Rights Convention and labelling them to raise awareness.  They decided on relevant articles and have created a whole school class charter which is displayed in our hall. The whole school are involved in discussions on setting expectations for these rights.

All staff have been trained in restorative approaches to resolving issues and P6/7s have been trained as peer mediators to help maintain a safe and happy school where children understand and access their rights.

Our biggest problem is getting everyone to use the language of rights and expectations across the whole school.  To help with this, we got a group of children together to turn some of the rights on the UNCRC into more child-friendly language and to draw pictures, so that it was easier for P1-3 to understand.

Where are we now?

Pupils are talking about rights and expectations in school.  Children understand more about showing respect. We also have a higher number of pupils showing appreciation and displaying Rights Respecting behaviour.

Our pupils are aware that some children in the world are being denied their basic rights. This has helped pupils think about the world and appreciate what they have. They are aware of the work of various children’s charities that are helping these children and are keen to get involved in fundraising activities for these charities.

They are also aware of the difference between wants and needs and appreciate that with rights come expectations.

We are all continuing to work hard towards achieving our Silver Rights Respecting Schools Award.


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