UNICEF UKs Rights Respecting Schools Award puts children’s rights at the heart of a schools work, recognising schools that are able to embed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into the practice and ethos of the school environment, curriculum and beyond.
Rights Respecting schools are safe and inspiring places to learn, where all children’s talents are nurtured and they are able to thrive.
A rights based school is based on equality and respect for all, where children and adults consider rights as belonging to each person across the world. The recognition and respect for the wider world and its diversity that is fostered is inextricably linked to a Rights Respecting School as one that embeds an Intercultural Curriculum that respects the beliefs, heritage, knowledge and ability of each child. Recognising children as rights bearers enables schools to give each child the best chance to lead healthy, happy lives and to be active, responsible citizens.
In 2014, Swansea Council and UNICEF UK embarked on partnership contract to support all schools in Swansea to engage in the Rights Respecting Schools Award. This includes undertaking training to understand the UNCRC and its practical application in an education environment, support to promote and teach children’s rights to children, staff and the wider school community across all areas of the curriculum and being assessed at two different levels to evidence that a rights based approach has been developed 1) in school and 2) across the wider school community, e.g. with parents and other community stake holders.
As of March 2018, this has been achieved with 100% of Primary and Secondary Schools in the City achieving engaged status.
Work is now ongoing to develop a sustainable, free model that can support schools to maintain and build on their commitment, supporting each of them to progress through the Award with the ultimate goal of all schools in Swansea reaching GOLD status.
A 2016 UNICEF evaluation of 500 schools in the Rights Respecting Schools Programme evidences that in a rights based school, participants report:
- Improved self-esteem and wellbeing
- Improved relationships and behaviour (reductions in bullying and exclusions and improved attendance)
- Improved engagement in learning
- Positive attitudes towards diversity in society and the reduction of prejudice
- Children and young people’s enhanced moral understanding
- Children and young people’s support for global justice
- Children and young people become more involved in decision-making in schools.
2017 impact analysis of the Rights Respecting Schools Award shows:
- 98% of head teachers believe that the Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) has had a positive impact on relationships and behaviour
- 97% of head teachers considered that working on the RRSA improved children’s and young people’s respect for themselves and others
- 93% of head teachers considered that the Award contributed to children and young people being more engaged in their learning
- 93% of head teachers considered that the RRSA impacted on children and young people’s positive attitudes to diversity & overcoming prejudices
- 76% of head teachers stated that the RRSA has had a positive impact on reducing exclusions and bullying
Full detailed evaluations are hyperlinked below.
Headline achievements in Swansea include:
- Approximately 48,358 children and young people, 2052 teaching staff and 1324 non-teaching staff have worked together to learn about rights and develop a rights respecting ethos in their schools.
- 22% of schools in Swansea have achieved Gold Status. This is the highest Rights Respecting Schools Award you can be awarded and recognises full embedding of children’s rights across the curriculum, school environment and beyond.
- 66% of schools in Swansea have achieved Silver Status and recognises embedding of children’s rights across the curriculum and school environment.
- 100% of schools in Swansea are registered and committed to developing themselves as Rights Respecting Schools.
Embedding a rights based approach is everybody’s business .In Swansea a partnership agreement between UNICEF UK and Swansea Council has just been the beginning. Embedding children’s rights across schools to the extent that it has been done, has required support and commitment from services across the Sectors including health, and third sector organisations as well as parents, carers, community members and children and young people.
The commitment to Rights Respecting schools has been fortified by Swansea Council’s formal policy commitment to putting children’s rights at the heart of its work though it Children and Young People’s Rights Scheme. A copy of the Scheme and the 2017/18 Annual Report is attached.