Taking part in OutRight started a ripple of campaign action at this Gold primary school.
Rose Peacock, Deputy Head of Alexandra Primary School, Kingston upon Thames, shares how staff worked to embed campaigning into school life.
Our approach to campaigning
Campaigning in our school involves a multi-faceted, proactive approach. It is pupil-led and involves our children taking leadership roles, engaging with the community, supporting external campaigns, and advocating for social and health-related issues. This approach raises awareness and takes concrete actions to make a positive impact on the school and the wider community. Campaigns have been pre-planned, such as through OutRight, and also as a response to the children’s desire to support local or global issues as they have arisen. This approach to campaigning has inspired children to take initiative in exploring current affairs within the local, national, and global communities.
Our Food Poverty Campaign
Last year, our school participated in OutRight, which centred on the right to health. We disseminated knowledge throughout the school community, utilising the campaign’s online resources, which were delivered through school assemblies and whole-class teaching sessions. These resources were invaluable to class teachers in fostering discussions and raising awareness.
Being part of the OutRight campaign had a profound impact, extending beyond our student council to all students. It made every child conscious of the need to safeguard children’s rights through robust healthcare systems worldwide. This awareness ignited a passionate student commitment to support those in need.
During the cost-of-living crisis, children from across the school initiated a campaign to aid our local community. They expressed concerns to our elected members of the school student council that individuals in the local area might not have their right to health fulfilled due to homelessness or reliance on food banks. They wanted to provide support so they organised successful food bank collections for over 100 families in the community.
The school council voted to support Marcus Rashford’s #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign, recognising its strong alignment with OutRight. The school council took this a step further and championed the cause of ending child food poverty, advocating for free school meals for all children up to the age of 16 living in poverty.
They gathered ideas and concerns from their peers and wrote letters to our local MP, Sarah Olney, urging her support and requesting that the matter be brought before Parliament. In response, Sarah visited our school to hear the children read their letters and talk about their support for the local community and pledged to deliver the letters to the Prime Minister.
This experience instilled in the children a sense of participating in a broader change and realising their potential for far-reaching impact.
Involving children in designing, implementing and evaluating the campaign
The children’s voices were heard and their perspectives were integrated into the campaign’s design, execution, and evaluation processes. After Outright their ideas continued to develop and evolve. They were eager to make a tangible difference in the local community too.
Initially, they wanted to ensure their message reached the ears of school leaders. This ambition later expanded to targeting the local MP, aiming for a more far-reaching impact. The school’s donations to the food bank proved highly beneficial to numerous local families. Currently, free school meals have been extended to include all primary-aged children in London.
Building on this momentum, the student council, informed by peer feedback, decided to broaden their focus to include eco initiatives alongside their commitment to the right to health. As a result, school council members from Years 3-6 attended a local Eco Conference, where Year 6 students delivered a compelling speech to an audience of over 150 other local school children and adults, emphasising how eco initiatives can facilitate better access to health for everyone.
The positive impact of getting involved in campaigning
- Campaign work has empowered students by instilling the belief that they can make a difference in the world. It has boosted pupil self-esteem and confidence.
- The children who have actively participated in campaigning have developed leadership skills, including communication, organisation, teamwork, and decision-making.
- Campaigning has meant that we have discussed a range of global issues, which has broadened the children’s perspectives and made them more aware of issues in the world around them. Parents have commented on how aware their children are on global issues and how they are able to recognise where the needs of others are not being met.
- Campaigning has fostered a sense of social responsibility as the children have learned to actively engage with their community and work towards positive change.
- Campaigning has enabled our school to develop stronger relationships with the local community.
Top tips for developing campaigning
- Create a student council through a democratic process. Use a clear job description created by previous members of the student council.
- Choose a specific human rights or social justice issue that resonates with your school community. Consider involving the children in the decision-making process to select campaign topics that are meaningful to them.
- Develop a campaign plan that outlines the objectives, strategies, and timeline for your campaigns. Ensure that campaigns are aligned with the principles of the Rights Respecting framework.
- Establish partnerships with local NGOs, advocacy groups, or community organisations that are working on similar issues. Collaborating with external organisations can provide valuable resources, expertise, and networking opportunities.
- Ensure that campaigning efforts are inclusive and encourage participation from all children. Create a welcoming environment where diverse perspectives are valued.
- Empower students with the tools they need to be effective advocates: support them to develop skills such as public speaking, writing persuasive letters, and organising events.
- Recognise and celebrate the achievements of your campaigning group and the positive changes they’ve brought about. This can motivate children and encourage a sense of pride and responsibility.
- Keep abreast of current events and emerging human rights issues in order to maintain relevance.
Alexandra Primary is a co-educational, non-selective, non-faith primary school within the Kingston upon Thames local authority with 463 pupils on roll. The school has a formal SEN provision of an Enhanced Specialist Teaching Arrangement (ESTA) for pupils in EYFS and Key Stage 1 and a Specialist Resource Provision (SRP) for pupils in Key Stage 2.