John O’Dowd, the Education Minister in the Northern Irish Government, visited St Mary’s High School in Newry this week to congratulate them on being accredited as a Rights Respecting School.

Our Rights Respecting School Award recognises a school’s achievement in placing the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of planning, policies and ethos. So far, 114 schools in Northern Ireland are working towards achieving the award.

"The rights of a child should be central to every school's ethos", said the Minister, speaking at the school.

"A rights-respecting ethos affects all aspects of school life, from leadership and management, learning about the Convention and empowering young people to become active citizens achieving their full potential."

"I want to congratulate St Mary’s on their achievement in being accredited as a UNICEF Right’s Respecting School. I am impressed by the work being done by all of the school staff and pupils here."

"Education has a vital role in ensuring young people are equipped with the skills and confidence they need to succeed in future life. Earlier I had the pleasure of meeting the School Council. It is they who give the young people at the school a voice and who can help have a positive impact on the decisions that affect them and how the school is run. It was by talking and listening to them I was able to see the very real and practical way they are developing rights, responsibilities and respect for all."

"I want to thank UNICEF for their continued support. Working together we can all work towards placing the needs and rights of children and young people at the centre of our education system."

Learn more about our Rights Respecting School Award.

John O'Dowd presents the RRSA certificate to St Mary’s High School in Newry. © UNICEF UK Education / 2011
John O'Dowd presents the RRSA certificate to St Mary’s High School in Newry.© UNICEF UK Education / 2011