Today (Friday 20 May 2022), the Scottish Government announced funding for UNICEF UK to offer their Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) programme to all 2,400 state primary and secondary schools in Scotland. To launch the new partnership, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville, visited a school already involved with the UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award programme, Commercial Primary School in Dunfermline. The Cabinet Secretary spoke to pupils and the headteacher about children’s rights and the impact of the RRSA programme on their school and their lives.
UNICEF UK works with schools across the country to embed children’s rights in a schools’ ethos, raise awareness of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and to increase understanding of children’s rights.
Evidence gathered by UNICEF UK shows the positive impact on creating a culture of respect across the school community where children’s voices are heard and valued, children feel safe and cared for and develop their self-esteem. 90% of headteachers in Rights Respecting Schools reported noticeable or significant impact on pupils developing positive relationships and 89% reported noticeable or significant impact on reducing bullying or exclusions.
Currently, 57% of Scottish schools are engaged with the programme and 563 have achieved the Silver or Gold stage of the Award where the impact of the RRSA is visibly recognised.
The grant from the Scottish Government will allow schools to register for the Award and access all training, accreditations and support for free until March 2025, removing barriers and giving any school interested in becoming Rights Respecting the opportunity to do so. This will create a lasting impact for children in Scotland.
Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We believe passionately that children’s rights should be recognised, protected and fulfilled.
“An important part of that is helping children and young people to understand those rights and to be empowered to exercise them.
“The Rights Respecting Schools programme supports pupils to feel valued, heard and safe and I am pleased that the Scottish Government, in partnership with UNICEF UK, are now able to offer the programme to all state primary and secondary schools.”
Lucinda Rivers, Head of UNICEF UK in Scotland, said: “I am delighted to be with the Cabinet Secretary today at Commercial Primary School to announce this exciting partnership with the Scottish Government.
“We have seen already the incredible impact that the RRSA school programme can have for whole school communities and thanks to the support of the Scottish Government even more children in Scotland will benefit by learning about their rights in environments where their voices are valued. This is an important part of the journey to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law, to ensure that every child has their rights realised, and we are very grateful to the Scottish Government for their support.”
Gillian Mann, Headteacher at Commercial Primary School that welcomed the Education Secretary on Friday, said: “We were delighted to be part of today’s announcement from the Scottish Government and UNICEF UK. As a Rights Respecting Gold School, Commercial Primary School have always put the rights of the child at the heart of all we do. This has allowed our pupils to have a strong voice, to know their rights and to affect change and make our school the best it can be as well as allowing pupils to advocate for others.
“We are delighted that every child in Scotland will now have the chance to learn about their rights and to develop a lifelong interest in equity and equality.”
While this funding will focus on embedding children’s rights in primary and secondary schools, the Scottish Government supports UNICEF UK research into understanding how early learning and childcare settings integrate children’s rights.
Notes to editors
About UNICEF UK
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work for children. We also promote and protect children’s rights in the UK and internationally. We are a UK charity, entirely funded by supporters. United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), Registered Charity No. 1072612 (England & Wales), SC043677 (Scotland). For more information visit unicef.org.uk.
About the UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award
UNICEF 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 as our guide, we are working with more UK schools than almost any other organisation. 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 towards the Award. In Scotland, more than 450,000 children go to a Rights Respecting School and nearly 1,500 schools are working towards the Award. For more information, visit unicef.org.uk/rights-respecting-schools/
Between 2017 and 2019 we gathered evidence that demonstrates the impact that the Award makes to children and schools. The evidence demonstrates positive impact for children and whole school communities. Findings include:
- 89% of headteachers reported noticeable or significant impact on reducing bullying or exclusions in the school.
- 90% of headteachers reported noticeable or significant impact on children and young people ‘developing positive relationships.’
- 93% of headteachers reported noticeable or significant impact on children and young people having ‘improved respect for themselves and for others.’
For more information around RRSA impact and evidence, see unicef.org.uk/rights-respecting-schools/the-rrsa/impact-of-rrsa/
For further information please contact:
Romana Juhasova, Resources, Stewardship and Communications Manager, RRSA
Tel. +44 20 3314 4438
Tel. +44 207 375 6030
Senior Media Manager, Communications Education & Skills
Tel. 0131 244 2718; 07880 462019