Gaining respect through the teaching of human rights

Nov 03, 2010

Teaching school children about their rights can reduce exclusions and bullying, raise attainment and improve respect between staff and pupils, according to new research carried out by education researchers at the universities of Sussex and Brighton.

This evidence is highlighted in a three-year qualitative study of UNICEF UK's Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA), published today (2 November).

The project, which is running in more than 1,000 UK schools, teaches to distinguish between their wants, needs and rights. Through working with teachers to develop school charters on classroom behaviour, children learn that with rights come responsibilities.

Judy Sebba, Professor of Education at Sussex, has been working with Dr. Carol Robinson at the University of Brighton on the study.

Judy said: "The aim of the scheme is to give children, young people and those who work with them far more say about their lives. Our evaluation shows that doing this reduces exclusions and bullying and improves respect."

The evaluation assessed the impact of the initiative on the well-being and achievement of children in 31 schools participating in RRSA across English local authorities.

Main findings in the evaluation report include:

• Pupils became more engaged in their learning.
• Little bullying or shouting was reported. Where conflicts do arise, pupils are more likely to resolve these themselves.
• Fixed term exclusions decreased in 13 schools and stabilised in three; five schools reported no exclusions.
• Students developed more positive attitudes to diversity and difference.
• Nearly two-thirds of schools raised their attainment.
• The award scheme could help mitigate the disadvantages associated with child poverty. Three of the four schools with over 50 per cent of children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) increased their attendance, attainment and reduced fixed-term exclusions. Of the 14 schools that had 20 per cent FSM, eight improved their attainment, seven improved their attendance and six reduced exclusions.
• Pupils actively participated in decisions in their schools.

The evaluation report highlights the Rights Respecting School Award as good value for money and recommends that UNICEF UK and the Department for Education should discuss how best to publicise the Award scheme to schools and local authorities so as to encourage further take up in the UK.

Anita Tiessen, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK, commented: "It is wrong that all children in the UK don't learn about their rights - today's evaluation report shows what a profound effect it can have not only on children, but teachers, leaders, governors and parents.

"We strongly urge the government and local authorities to put it right by promoting the award scheme to more UK schools so they too can reap the benefits and foster responsible adults of the future."

Explore further: Researchers urge early help for kindergarten students with low self-regulation

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Virtual' head teachers benefit children in care

Mar 04, 2010

( -- New research from the School for Policy Studies shows that 'virtual' head teachers significantly raise the priority of education and outcomes for children in care, who are often less successful ...

Teachers admit to bullying students

Jun 29, 2006

U.S. researchers in Topeka, Kan., say nearly half of elementary school teachers surveyed about bullying in schools admitted to bullying students.

Recommended for you

World population likely to peak by 2070

Oct 23, 2014

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

Oct 23, 2014

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Study examines effects of credentialing, personalization

Oct 23, 2014

Chris Gamrat, a doctoral student in learning, design and technology, recently had his study—completed alongside Heather Zimmerman, associate professor of education; Jaclyn Dudek, a doctoral student studying learning, design ...

User comments : 0