Children at Swinton Primary School smile under their outside numbers chart

What is a Rights Respecting School?

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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 levels to the Rights Respecting Schools Award. Its transformative and rigorous approach means the journey to the highest level 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.

A Rights Respecting School is a place where we can all feel confident with ourselves and it encourages us to use our voice. It has helped me build my confidence. It has helped me raise awareness of injustice in the world.
A pupil from a Primary Rights Respecting School

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 well-being 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 per cent of headteachers at Rights Respecting Schools said the award had improved children’s respect for themselves and each other.
  • 93 per cent 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 an RRSA school

Children feel safe

The programme 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 per cent 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
  • “Teachers empower us and give us confidence.’” Secondary pupil at an RRSA school

Talking about being Rights Respecting at school

"Since becoming rights-respecting our children feel happier, safe and confident and are ready to learn"
Deputy headteacher at a Primary 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 per cent 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

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 per cent 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
  • “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
Rights are the context for all our work – they provide a framework for the whole jigsaw.
Primary school headteacher

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