Rights Respecting School
The Rights Respecting Schools Award puts children’s rights at the heart of schools in the UK.
The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) works with schools in the UK to create safe and inspiring places to learn, where children are respected, their talents are nurtured and they are able to thrive. Our Rights Respecting Schools Award embeds these values in daily school life and gives children the best chance to lead happy, healthy lives and to be responsible, active citizens.
Using the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as our guide, we are working with more UK schools than almost any other organisation. Over 1.6 million children in the UK go to a Rights Respecting School and nearly 5,000 schools up and down the country are working through the Award. Schools work with us on a journey to become fully Rights Respecting.
The Award recognises a school’s achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into practice within the school and beyond.
What is a Rights Respecting School?
We work with teachers and staff every step of the way on their journey to become Rights Respecting, providing training, lesson plans, guidance and, when a school is ready, an assessment by one of our child rights professionals.
What’s more, our bespoke resources help teachers to talk to children of all ages about the big issues facing the world today, from the refugee crisis to climate change.
There are three stages to the Rights Respecting Schools Award. Its transformative and rigorous approach means the journey to the highest stage can take up to four years.
Together young people and the school community learn about children’s rights, putting them into practice every day. 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, adults and children work towards this goal together.
There are four key areas of impact for children at a Rights Respecting school; wellbeing, participation, relationships and self-esteem.
The difference that a Rights Respecting School makes goes beyond the school gates, making a positive impact on the whole community.
Children are healthier and happier
By promoting the values of respect, dignity and non-discrimination, children’s self-esteem and wellbeing is boosted and they are less likely to suffer from stress. A child who understands their rights understands how they and others should be treated and their sense of self-worth is strengthened.
- 97% of headteachers at Rights Respecting Schools said the award had improved children’s respect for themselves and each other
- 93% of headteachers at Rights Respecting Schools said the award had helped children to embrace diversity and overcome prejudices
- “We all know our rights and know that if our rights aren’t respected we can do something.” – Primary pupil at a Rights Respecting School
Children feel safe
The Rights Respecting Schools Award gives children a powerful language to use to express themselves and to challenge the way they are treated. They are also able to challenge injustices for other children. Children and young people are empowered to access information that enables them to make informed decisions about their learning, health and wellbeing.
- 76% of headteachers at Rights Respecting Schools say the award has helped to reduce bulling and exclusions
- In some cases children have been able to use the language of rights to tell teachers they do not feel safe at home or in their community, whether that’s because of violence, abuse or neglect
- “Learning about rights has made them [children] more confident about speaking out. They are more confident and articulate.” – Parent of a pupil at an Rights Respecting School
- “Teachers empower us and give us confidence.” – Secondary pupil at a Rights Respecting School
Children have better relationships
Both with their teachers and their peers, based on mutual respect and the value of everyone’s opinion. In a Rights Respecting school children are treated as equals by their fellow pupils and by the adults in the school. Children and young people are involved in how the Award is implement in the school but are also involved in strategic decision-making; in decisions about their learning; and in views about their well-being.
- 98% of headteachers at Rights Respecting Schools said the Award had improved relationships and behaviour
- “Our views are taken very seriously. Our opinion matters because we are the pupils, we know what it is like in the school and their (adults) perspective is different from ours.” – Primary pupil from a Rights Respecting School
Children become active and involved in school life and the wider world
This builds their confidence to make informed decisions. They have a moral framework, based on equality and respect for all that lasts a lifetime, as they grow into engaged, responsible members of society. Children and adults develop an ethos and language of rights and respect around the school. Rights and principles of the Convention are used to put moral situations into perspective and consider rights-respecting solutions – this all has a huge impact on relationships and well-being. Children and young people get very involved in raising awareness about social justice issues, both at home and abroad. They become ambassadors for rights and take part in campaigns and activities to help to bring about change.
- 93% of headteachers at Rights Respecting Schools said the award contributed to children and young people being more engaged in their learning.
- “RRSA has changed the way I teach, I have the rights in my head when I do planning but also when working pastorally. When there is a problem I say ‘you have the right to be heard and I will listen to you.” – Teacher from a Rights Respecting School
- “It has opened up a dialogue between teachers and pupils; you are empowered and encouraged to debate with teachers.” – Secondary pupil
- “It’s made me very aware of my surroundings. We do loads of things that make everyone else aware too, like sending red hands [letters] to Members of Parliament.” – Primary pupil from a Rights Respecting School