Three children stand in front of their class charter at Swinton Primary School.

The aims of the Rights Respecting Schools Award

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The Rights Respecting Schools Award puts children’s rights at the heart of schools in the UK.

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 (UNCRC) as our guide, we are working with more UK schools than almost any other organisation. 1.5 million children in the UK go to a Rights Respecting School and more than 4,000 schools up and down the country are working towards 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.

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How does the RRSA link with other school initiatives?

The RRSA programme unifies a range of educational priorities in all UK jurisdictions; the global dimension, social and emotional aspects of learning, community cohesion and sustainable development.

How is the RRSA funded?

As a registered charity we rely entirely on voluntary donations to fund our vital work for children and their rights. Therefore we charge for regional courses, school visits, local authority support, assessments and other activities. Our RRSA programme does not make a profit – it simply aims to cover our running costs.

What is the focus of the Award?

The Unicef UK Rights Respecting Schools Award supports schools across the UK to embed children’s human rights in their ethos and culture.

The Award recognises achievement in putting the UN Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC) at the heart of a school’s practice to improve well-being and help all children and young people realise their potential.

The award is based on principles of equality, dignity, respect, non-discrimination and participation. The initiative started in 2006 and schools involved in the Award have reported a positive impact on relationships and well-being, leading to better learning and behavior, improved academic standards and less bullying

Who is the Award for?

The Award is aimed at schools across the UK, including those in an early years setting. We currently work with over 4,000 primary schools, secondary schools, schools for children and young people with special educational needs and pupil referral units across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Schools need to register with us to take part in the programme.

What does the Award involve?

Schools involved in the Rights Respecting Schools Award work towards recognition that they have embedded children and young people’s rights in their school’s practice and ethos. Schools are required to implement four evidence-based standards that cover the leadership of the school, knowledge and understanding of children’s rights, ethos and relationships and the empowerment of children and young people.

There are three levels to the Award:

The journey to Level 2, the highest award granted by Unicef UK, can take three to four years. Level 1 and Level 2 awards are valid for three years, after which time schools must be re-assessed.