Rights Respecting Schools Unicef Gold award

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Abbey Court are delighted to announce that we have been reaccredited as a Unicef Gold Award Rights Respecting School!

At Abbey Court, we know that we put children's rights at the heart of everything we do - and the Unicef RRSA Assessors agree with us!  This is the third time that Abbey Court has been assessed as a Gold Award Rights Respecting School, having previously achieved this award in January 2014 and February 2017.

Since the last time the school achieved the Gold Award, the school has continued to develop our rights respecting work.  This has included developing pupil voice, Larkin Farm and the farm curriculum, working towards the Carnegie Mental Health and Wellbeing Award, inclusion activities, and developing staff training and school documentation related to rights.

On the 28 April 2021, the school underwent a 'virtual' reaccreditation assessment.   Abbey Court was proud to be selected to be one of the first schools to be involved in a 'pilot' assessment, with Unicef trialling a new way of assessing schools who wish to maintain their Gold Award status. This involved the two Unicef assessors 'meeting' with 11 pupils, staff, parents and governors to find out about the work we do on supporting pupils to learn about, receive and enjoy, and campaign for their rights.  

Pupils who 'met' with the assessors talked about how they make choices, like playing with their friends and felt safe at school, including knowing how to use the computer safely and wearing bike helmets.  An older student explained how he set up Teams meetings for different students to talk to each other in school during the pandemic, as they were unable to see each other due to being in class 'bubbles'.  Another explained that they helped their friends in school "with their walking...with the computer".  The assessors commented that, 'Pupils views are taken seriously' and 'The staff... were passionate about and exemplified giving every pupil a chance to express their views.'  Additionally, 'It was very evident that staff listened to the students and were powerful advocates for the children claiming their rights.'

In their report, the Unicef RRSA assessors stated that, 'The establishment of the Abbey Court School Farm exemplifies how children and staff have worked together to develop a school community based on equality, dignity, respect, non-discrimination and participation.'  They continue to highlight that, 'The farm provides opportunities for children to meet with different adults, opportunities for useful work experience, improvements to health and well-being, greater feelings of confidence and self-esteem and opportunities for a wide variety of learning activities.'

The participation of Abbey Court pupils in the local community and being ambassadors for children's rights, including through the Young Farmer's Club, Scouts Group, work in supporting local charities and International Schools projects, were also identified as a highlight of the school's Rights Respecting work.

What are the school's strengths as a Rights Respecting School?

  • ‘staff who are passionate advocates for ensuring children access their rights’;
  • ‘an innovative and strategic senior leadership team who embrace opportunities to do their best for the children in their school’;
  • ‘confident children who are empowered by their rights to enjoy the opportunities provided at their school.

What we are going to work on next?

  • developing the school website to include more information about children’s rights and make these easy for pupils and parents to see;
  • make sure we use accurate language about rights, while still making it easy for our pupils to understand;
  • explore how the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities could support or develop further the school’s rights respecting work;
  • continue to develop on everything that we already do!

The assessors thanked Abbey Court for their warm welcome and enjoyed speaking with everyone and seeing the evidence the school had provided for them.  Well done to the whole school community for ensuring that 'children's rights are embedded across the school and underpin every facet of school life'!