Rights Respecting School

What does it mean to be a rights respecting school?

The Rights Respecting Schools Award puts children’s rights at the heart of schools in the UK. Unicef works with schools in the UK to create safe and inspiring places to learn, where children are respected, their talents are nurtured and they are able to thrive. Unicef’s Respecting Schools Award embeds these values in daily school life and gives children the best chance to lead happy, healthy lives and to be responsible, active citizens.

There are three stages to the Rights Respecting Schools Award. Its transformative and rigorous approach means the journey to the highest stage can take up to four years.

Together young people and the school community learn about children’s rights, putting them into practice every day.  The Award is not just about what children do but also, importantly, what adults do. In Rights Respecting Schools, children’s rights are promoted and realised, adults and children work towards this goal together. The Award recognises a school’s achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into practice within the school community and beyond.


What are the children's rights?

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, or UNCRC, is the basis of all of Unicef’s work. It is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history.

The Convention has 54 articles that cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. It also explains how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children can enjoy all their rights. Every child has rights, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status.

Please see the rights overview for a summary of Articles 1-42.


Why become a Rights Respecting School?

  • It develops a common language to build the schools vision and values.
  • They are an inalienable set of rights which the children have a right to know (Article 42)
  • Children and young people become actively involved in the learning process
  • Children and young people take responsibility for respecting their right to an education, and the rights of others
  • It is an efficient and effective framework for School Improvement
  • To build good global citizens


What is the impact of being a rights respecting school?

  • Everyone in the school community has a clear framework of reference
  • Children become advocates for their own learning: “Learning is not what’s done to us anymore – we are responsible for leading it – it’s our right” (Girl aged 10 years)
  • Improved behaviours for Learning
  • Less passive and more active learners
  • Improved results

Article 3 (Best interests of the child): The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them. All adults should do what is best for children. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children. This particularly applies to budget, policy and law makers.


Surely with rights becomes responsibility?

The Convention defines a ‘child’ as a person below the age of 18. Anyone above that age is known as a duty-bearer. Children are not responsible for upholding their rights, a five-year-old for example, can not be responsible for ensuring that they are not kidnapped or physically abused. Duty-bearers are responsible for teaching children about their rights, and for up-holding them. Children are responsible for RESPECTING their rights, and the rights of others.


FACT SHEET: A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Child Friendly Summary

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