Berkeley Green UTC Rights Respecting School Award
Berkeley Green UTC is proud to be working towards being a Gold Level Rights Respecting School. During the academic year 2020-21 we are pleased to announce that we have started our journey successfully and in June 2021 were awarded the Bronze: Rights Committed Award. Berkeley Green UTC is the only secondary school in Gloucestershire to gain this award. This award will see the UTC students, staff, and wider community come together to learn about children’s rights, and put 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. 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. There are three stages to the award; Bronze: Rights Committed, Silver: Rights Aware and Gold: Rights Respecting. We will now we starting our journey into becoming a Silver status school.
What is a rights respecting school?
One of the greatest challenges that schools face is to define a clear set of values – not just rules – that has been developed with the full school community and is actively upheld by all. UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA) helps schools to use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as the values framework that enables this to be achieved. The UNCRC enhances pupils’ understanding of the consequences of individual and group actions on the rights of others locally and globally. The articles of the Convention are based on the recognition of every child’s basic needs in order to thrive. These needs can be grouped into four categories:
- to survive as a fit and healthy person
- to be protected from harm and abuse
- to develop physically, mentally and socially
- to participate as an active citizen
UNICEF UK believes that the principles and values of the CRC should be embedded in the ethos and curriculum of every school. It is not a one off lesson but integrated into the heart of the school, in our policies, procedures and practises. This is the purpose of the Rights Respecting School Award.
UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA) provides a framework to help schools to use CRC as the basis for their ethos. In a rights respecting school, children learn about their rights and the responsibilities that are implied. 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.
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. Students are empowered to access information that enables them to make informed decisions about their learning, health and wellbeing. This builds their confidence to make informed decisions.
In addition, students have a moral framework, based on equality and respect for all that lasts a lifetime, as they grow into engaged, responsible members of society. 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.
At Berkeley Green UTC we ensure children’s rights are heard and acted upon. We now have an action plan in place for the next academic year that will see the rights of children becoming an embedded in our curriculum. A pupil steering group has been created to be the driving force behind these positive changes with spaces for our new starters to join. We are working towards achieving the Silver Award: Rights Aware.
In order to achieve the award the school must meet the required standards across four aspects of school life:
- Leadership and management which promotes the values of the UNCRC in the life of the school
- Knowledge of the UNCRC including an understanding that with rights comes responsibilities
- Rights-respecting climate and culture in the classroom
- Active pupil participation in decision making.
When the school feels it has met the required standards a UNICEF UK Education Officer will conduct an assessment. If the necessary standards are confirmed the school will be presented with a certificate.
How does RRSA make a difference?
Children and young people can raise their achievement at school and improve the quality of their lives, if they learn exactly what their rights and responsibilities are according to the UNCRC and use this understanding as a guide to living.
Children and young people will know how to go about making informed decisions and become confident, active citizens if this “rights and responsibilities” guide to living is introduced at an early age and reinforced through school life.
Evidence gathered from schools that have already completed the award suggests that there has been a positive impact on school ethos, pupils’ self-esteem, behaviour and their development as global citizens.
RRSA Contact – Jo Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org)