Children supporting Ukraine

empowered by their knowledge of rights

Home > Children supporting Ukraine, empowered by their knowledge of rights

Escalating conflict in Ukraine sent a wave of concern across the world and the country. It also provoked an outpouring of sympathy and an urge to take action to help, no matter how small.  

Pupils from Rights Respecting Schools all over the UK have shown great initiative and took positive actions, feeling empowered by their knowledge of rights and how these were impacted for children of Ukraine. From sponsored walks, through bake sales, to collecting donations, they’ve shown their solidarity with fellow children and families as well as raised vital funds.

The children of Bronze awarded Kinmylies Primary School held a sponsored walk in aid of UNICEF’s Ukraine appeal. The school walked a collective 35 miles, the distance which some families are having to walk to get to safety. All classes chipped in, ranging from nursery completing a mile, up to Primary 7 walking eight miles and over 300 children all working together for a common cause. To mark the end of the 35 miles, the pupils dressed up in yellow and blue colours to show their support for the people of Ukraine. 

Jennifer Tyronney, a principal teacher at Kinmylies Primary School, said: 

“The pupils in the Rights Respecting group were feeling quite helpless about the situation in Ukraine and wanted to do something. They showed a great interest in fundraising, particularly for the refugees. I think having a target and action to take really helped them to feel more empowered. 

“To date, we have raised over £4,500 and our staff, pupils and school community feel immensely proud and empowered by this whole experience.”

Tredegar Park Primary School who started their Rights Respecting journey recently organised a #CookForUkraine bake sale, raising over £500. 

The idea came directly from children in Year 5 who also made sure that all pupils have a chance to participate. Their RRSA Coordinator, Ambreen Badat, said: 

“The steering group suggested that each year group could contribute in some way. We discussed how this could be done with limited resources and within just a few days. It was decided that some classes would bake, some would design posters to advertise the event and others would make ‘non-bake’ products, such as decorating biscuits. Even the nursery contributed to the bake sale by drawing sunflowers and flags to entice pupils to purchase items from the stall.

Children of Gold: Rights Respecting Avon House Preparatory School also chose to raise funds through a bake sale.  

Helen Dunne, RRSA Lead at Avon House School, said: 

“We shared First News articles with the children and discussed the topic in a sensitive manner ensuring that we referred to the rights of children during times of war. The RRS council and I quickly realised we could make a small difference by carrying out a charitable event and jointly decided that a bake sale would appeal to our community and raise a decent amount of funds.  

“The RRS council were the main planners of the bake sale and produced posters to display around the school. They also made flags to put in the cupcakes which detailed the rights associated with children in times of war.” 

In addition to this, pupils wrote messages of support to the people of Ukraine and displayed them around their school.

Pupils from Weston-under-Penyard CE Primary School and Whitchurch Primary and Nursery School who together form the unity of the River Wye Foundation and hold the Gold: Rights Respecting Award raised funds by selling Ukraine flag-themed items such as bracelets. Year 6 children at Whitchurch School also made a map of Ukraine and covered it in coins to display their fundraising success. All ideas came from children themselves. 

Luisa Lee-Smith, Head of Weston-under-Penyard CE Primary School and RRS Lead, said: 

“Pupils went to their teachers and asked permission to fundraise. They planned and executed the fundraising independently and staff supported them by publicising their efforts via our channels. We are proud that our students use their embedded knowledge of rights to campaign for the rights of others.” 

Bake sale at Tredegar Park Primary
Pupils from Weston-under-Penyard selling Ukraine flag-themed bracelets
Children at Whitchurch Primary and Nursery School covered a flag of Ukraine with coins they collected
Bake sale at Avon House Preparatory School
Children at Kinmylies Primary School organised a sponsored walk. Many wore the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

These are only a few of many positive actions children from Rights Respecting Schools around the country have taken. Others include holding a day without uniform, wearing blue and yellow to show support or collecting donations and supplies.


Supporting children through worrying world events 

When the conflict in Ukraine escalated at the end of February 2022, teachers were very much aware of how exposed their pupils were to the worrying news in the world of today.  

“The children had so many questions about what was happening and had collective worries and concerns,” Jennifer Tyronney, a principal teacher at Kinmylies Primary School, said. 

Ambreen Badat, RRSA Coordinator at Tredegar Park Primary School, recalls: 

“The subject of Ukraine was very prominent in the news and the pupils throughout the school could be heard talking about it in their own time and were asking staff questions about it.”  

Teachers felt that pupils needed support and rights respecting language provided the framework for that. 

Luisa Lee-Smith, Head of Weston-under-Penyard CE Primary School and RRS Lead, said: 

“As soon as war broke out in Ukraine, our Senior Leadership Team convened to discuss how we would approach discussing this with our students. As a Rights Respecting Federation, we use our roles as duty bearers to ensure our children receive relevant and truthful information about current affairs which will help them make sense of the world around them. We gauged the children’s conversations and decided to speak to them in smaller groups and listen to their thoughts and opinions. We have spent many of our assemblies this year discussing the situation in Afghanistan and the children were able to make clear links between these situations.” 

Jennifer Tyronney from Kinmylies Primary School said: 

“We used the extra Article of the Week and associated resources to help to work with our young people to discuss their concerns and questions in a sensitive way. I think being able to link the current events to the different articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and being able to use the rights respecting language enabled our learners to be able to discuss the situation in Ukraine sensitively and with real empathy and understanding.” 

Luisa Lee-Smith from Weston-under-Penyard CE Primary School added: 

“We live in a very non-diverse area of the country and the rights respecting ethos has helped us immeasurably to educate children about difference and respecting others, as well as understanding the similarities we share as humans.”

UNICEF has been working around the clock to help children in Ukraine. You can read more about how UNICEF is protecting children in Ukraine.

If you need support with discussing the ongoing crisis in Ukraine with your pupils, you can continue to use the extra Article of the Week resource.  

If you have a story about the impact of RRSA in your school, get in touch with [email protected]