In December 2020, Inverness Royal Academy became the first school in the Highlands to be awarded the Silver Rights Respecting Schools Award.

“Being the first school in the Highlands to achieve this award is a very significant achievement and is testament to our students and our staff, especially Mrs. Lindsay Muluzi (Principal Teacher of R.M.E. and Mrs. Morven Neil, Principal Teacher of Geography). As a school we are not only proud that the school has achieved the Silver award but we are committed to achieving the Gold award in the coming year. For the whole school community, the challenge now is for the principles and values of the convention to permeate all of the work that we do as an institution. It seems too obvious to stress the importance of putting children’s rights at the heart of a school but, surprisingly, it is only in recent years that such an approach has been recognised as being fundamental to young people’s health and wellbeing, their academic success and their participation in society as active citizens”.

Nigel Engstrand, Rector

What is a Rights Respecting School?

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

For more information on Rights Respecting Schools click here

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