What difference is made for children by Shenley Fields being a Rights Respecting School?
Sallyanne: We have noticed a real difference in behaviour as children understand their rights. The children have formed positive relationships with adults and their peers. The children learn about their rights and are empowered because they are rights holders.
We have developed a lot of charters with children. We have found these have been a brilliant tool and we use them every day. We have a whole school charter and charters in rooms for different areas of the provision – outdoor play, bathroom, dining room – these charters are developed between children as rights holders and adults as duty bearers.
I think the impact of that is huge, because they have ownership and so they have empowered the children and we see a real difference in children’s behaviour. For example, when they talk to each other you might hear children to say they have “the right to be safe” or “use your kind hands.”
What advice would you give to other early years settings working towards the Award?
Sallyanne: When I look back the most powerful thing was delivering training to staff and getting the whole staff team on board and really understanding what being a Rights Respecting School is.
Include everyone in school your action plan. The Rights Respecting Lead cannot just sit in an office and say, “This is what we are going to do.” You must empower your team and make them feel that they have contributed. When they feel they have contributed they will feel ‘onboard’ with the work. Delegate out, get them involved. Make people take ownership of parts of the action plan and when they have ownership, they can take pride in the achievement.
Your Rights Respecting work is a journey, it is not something that happens overnight. At Shenley Fields we have been talking part in this for five years and it is something you need to get everyone involved with – your parents, children and staff team. It takes a long time to become really embedded.
It is such a worthwhile journey because the impact on children, staff and parents – so keep on at it!