Guidance for steering group
Creating a steering group is one of the first and most important steps towards becoming a Rights Respecting school.
The purpose of the steering group
The steering group leads the actions of the whole school so that it becomes rights respecting. Schools have told us that the steering group is most effective when:
- It has the support of the headteacher, governing body and senior management team from the outset
- It has the influence and ability to drive forward change
- It represents a cross section of the school community with children as key actors
- It meets regularly with clear agendas and agreed action points.
The role of the steering group
- To take the lead in developing and delivering the school’s rights respecting action plan
- To ensure that the whole school is aware of the Rights Respecting Schools Award
- To provide a link between children and young people, teachers, senior management team, governors and the whole school community
- To regularly feedback to the school community about progress, including to the SMT, governors, staff and parents.
- To prepare for the assessment by collating evidence and being able to meet with the assessor(s)
Forming the steering group
The steering group can be:
- A completely new working group specially formed to work on the RRSA
- A working group or sub-committee of an existing school council, with additional adults and children and young people from within the school community
- Developed from another school ‘action group’ e.g. Healthy Schools, Fair Trade, Eco School committee
It should include:
- A high proportion of children and young people who represent different year groups and reflect the diversity within the school
- At least one member of the Senior Management Team
- Other teachers (with key roles in school, or with a level of knowledge, influence and enthusiasm in this area)
The following possible members should also be considered:
- Support staff e.g. office or lunchtime staff
- A governor/member of the parent council
- A parent
- A member of the local community who is involved in the school (for example police, health workers, local faith leaders)
- Representatives from other school groups e.g. Eco-School, Fair Trade, Amnesty International
Ideas for the steering group
These are some suggested ideas that schools have told us are helpful to get RRSA off to a good start.
Help with audit, action planning and evaluation
- Find out how rights-respecting your school already is by asking pupils a number of questions. You can use our pupil questionnaire to help you – you can adapt the questions in the questionnaire to suit your school.
- Decide how you will use the pupil questionnaires. Some schools survey all the children, some identify certain classes and some use a small focus group with children from different classes.
- Discuss the results and use them to add to your Level 1 Audit and Action Plan.
- Identify from the Audit and Action Plan what the priority areas are.
- Write and regularly update the audit and action plan and identify any actions needed
- Agree and decide how the steering group can monitor and evaluate actions (what systems already exist in school?)
- Many schools find it very useful to repeat the questionnaires annually or as needed to see what difference has occurred.
- Be involved in the self-evaluation leading up to assessment
Help with training and awareness raising
- Produce guidance and information for teachers, children and young people, parents etc. In some schools children have made videos, written songs and devised games to make this fun.
- Coordinate regular training sessions to develop understanding or the RRSA for teachers and students
- Discuss with curriculum coordinators and subject leaders how they can incorporate UNCRC into their lessons.
- Hold sessions for parents or governors to explain the UNCRC and the RRSA
- Checking that RRSA is visible in assemblies, displays and lessons. Some schools find that learning walks are helpful to do this.