RRSA conference (virtual)

15 years of change for children 

Home > Rights Respecting Schools Award conference (virtual)

We are holding our first ever virtual UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award conference on Wednesday 5 October 2022. 

This year, RRSA is celebrating 15 years of embedding children’s rights education in schools and creating a positive change for children in the UK. As we come out of the pandemic and hope for a better school year of 22/23 allowing us to fully focus on progressing our Rights Respecting work, we’ll take this moment to come together virtually, celebrate the journey we’ve been on and look forward together.   

Join us for a chance to hear from people from UNICEF and the world of politics and academia about the impact of the Rights Respecting work. 

The conference is open to teachers and other staff from schools already involved in RRSA as well as those looking to find out more about the programme and professionals in the field of rights-based education.  

2022 CONFERENCE (virtual)

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  • The event is free for RRSA member schools that paid their first annual subscription or committed to the membership. It is also free for schools we’re working with in Scotland, Manchester, Cardiff, and Channel Islands.
  • The price for everyone else is £50 per ticket. 


The conference will be run as a “town hall” style Microsoft Teams Live event. Attendees can participate via live Q&A chat function with speakers and UNICEF UK RRSA staff available on the call to respond. 


The event will be running from 10.15 – 17.00 (UK time) in six 45-minute slots. Attendees can join for the whole day or only attend slots of their choice.  

10.15 – 11.00
Welcome from Frances Bestley, UNICEF UK RRSA Programme Director
Overview of how RRSA influences work for children beyond schools and contributed to a system of change from Jon Sparkes, UNICEF UK Executive Director

11.15 – 12.00
Deborah McMillan, The Children’s Commissioner for Jersey, on incorporating children’s rights and voice in legislation.

13.30 – 14.15
Marie Wernham, Child Rights Education Consultant for UNICEF in Geneva, Switzerland, on how RRSA has influenced children’s rights education in the rest of the world.

14.30 – 15.15
Lee Jerome, Associate Professor in Education (Childhood and Society) at Middlesex University London, on the contribution the RRSA makes to the wider child rights education and social justice agenda

15.30 – 16.15
Panel of headteachers from RRSA schools share their views and experience related to the day.

16.30 – 17.00
Closing remarks from children in a form of a video. 


You will hear from:

  • Frances Bestley, UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award Programme Director 
  • Jon Sparkes, UNICEF UK Executive Director 
  • Deborah MacMillan, the previous Children’s Commissioner for Jersey 
  • Marie Wernham, Child Rights Education Consultant for UNICEF in Geneva, Switzerland
  • Dr Lee Jerome, Middlesex University Associate Professor in Education (Childhood and Society) 
  • Panel of headteachers from UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools
Jon Sparkes, UNICEF UK CEO


Jon Sparkes joined UNICEF UK as Chief Executive in January 2022 bringing considerable experience at an executive level across the charity sector. Prior to this, he held the role of Chief Executive of Crisis UK, the national charity for people facing homelessness, from 2014. In July 2022, he was awarded an OBE for his services to homeless people. Earlier in his career, he held the roles of Chief Operating Officer at UNICEF UK and Chief Executive at SCOPE, the national disability charity.

Jon has a strong background in leading Human Resources and Organisational Development in both the public and commercial sectors, including as Director of Organisational Development at NHS Cornwall and as Group Human Resources Director for the international technology and investment firm, the Generics Group. He also has wide-ranging non-executive experience in charities and social enterprises and has led and participated in several projects on behalf of governments, including, during his time at Crisis, as Chair of the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Advisory Group, Chair of the Welsh Government’s Homelessness Action Group, and as a member of the UK Government’s Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel.

Marie Wernham

Marie Wernham is an international child rights advocate and consultant specialising in training, policy development, advocacy, research and evaluation. She has worked in over thirty countries with children, NGOs, UNICEF (in the Pacific, Nepal and Ghana) and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on topics including child protection, child safeguarding, child participation, children in the justice system, child rights education and the child rights approach. She is currently the Child Rights Education Consultant for UNICEF in Geneva, Switzerland.

She has a Masters degree in Understanding and Securing Human Rights (Institute of Commonwealth Studies – University of London, UK) and a Graduate Certificate in Arts for Change (working with children and their families through creative arts and play; University of Roehampton, UK). She is a passionate advocate for children’s rights and a strong believer in the transformative power of creative communication.

@ Rob Currie

Deborah McMillan was the first Children’s Commissioner for Jersey. Her role was to promote and protect children’s rights. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is a National Human Rights Institution and is underpinned by the UNCRC and other international treaties.

Formerly the Director for Children’s Services at Bridgend County Borough Council she held the statutory roles of Director of Education and Lead Director for Children and Young People. Deborah was the Lead Director for the Central South Regional Education Consortia, and Chair of Association of Directors of Education Wales (ADEW).

Throughout her career Deborah has been involved in developing early intervention and prevention and shaping the way services are delivered for children, young people and their families. As the first Commissioner in Jersey, Deborah put in place the building blocks to make long lasting change and to make life better for the island’s children and young people.

Lee Jerome has taught from key stage 3 to PhD level and published numerous textbooks, lesson resources, journal articles and academic books on citizenship and children’s rights education. He is editor of Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, course leader for the MA Childhood and Education in Diverse Societies at Middlesex University and, with Hugh Starkey, co-author of Children’s Rights Education in Diverse Classrooms (Bloomsbury).

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