Rights Respecting School Award Level 1 Assessment Report Blandford St. Mary’s Primary School, Dorset 29th September 2010 Assessors: Mike Hillary Introduction Many thanks to all the adults and children, who made the visit such an interesting and enjoyable day. Particular thanks to Rose Rees who organised and the day and who is providing very effective co-ordination of the RRS programme. During the day I was able to speak to a range of adults and children of all ages who were keen to explain the progress the school had made on its rights respecting journey. I was able to observe the children at playtime and lunchtime and see the excellent range of display around the school. At lunchtime the RRS co-ordinator was able to guide me through the school’s excellent web site and “blog” which she has been able to create. This shows the story of the school’s RRS “journey” so far. I will be pleased to recommend this site to other school’s as an example of excellent practice. It is clear from the evidence that the school has reached Level 1 Rights Respecting Schools award and is also clear about the next steps on its journey towards level 2. The outcome The external assessment confirms that the school’s self-evaluation is accurate and that it has attained Rights Respecting School status at Level One. Congratulations to all involved in this achievement! The assessment process focused on the four aspects of the RRSA and allowed the school to demonstrate the following:
1. Leading and Managing a Rights Respecting School
The governors, headteacher, deputy and co-ordinator are all committed to the rights respecting schools approach to enhancing the school’s existing ethos. The headteacher, together with the co-ordinator and deputy have ensured that rights, respect and responsibility are part of the school’s “infrastructure”, ie assemblies, class charters, events, curriculum, school council. The headteacher is very clear about the benefits of the RRS approach and how it fits with his vision for taking the school forward. He was pleased that it fitted with the way the school was developing the curriculum and thought that overall it was, “the egg that holds the cake together”. This will ensure that the principles of the RRS approach will become embedded in the life of St. Mary’s. RRS has been included in the current school development plan and there are good plans in place to take the initiative forward in the future. Policies are due to be reviewed with reference to the UNCRC and the co-ordinator is monitoring the impact of the RRS approach across the school. She is making very good use of the school’s web site to collect and collate the developments that have taken place since the school started its journey. The school is beginning to make the links between rights, sustainability, Fairtrade and global citizenship although this is not always completely clear yet in the minds of the children. Parents have been informed about the initiative and some parents have attended a special parents evening. Other parents have been informed by newsletter, their children and the school’s web site. The school is making every effort to involve parents and is keen to engage with the immediate and wider community in the town. The school is also aware of the benefits of working with local schools who are approaching, or who have achieved, Level 1
2. Teaching and Learning about the UNCRC The head, deputy and co-ordinator all have a good understanding of the implications of the UNCRC. All staff have taken on board the key messages and pupils are familiar with rights and responsibilities. Children generally have a sound knowledge of rights, especially in relation to class charters and the school context. Most children are aware of the basic survival rights and the reasons why not all children around the world enjoy these rights. Older children might have more awareness of specific rights, eg Article 12 and rights connected with culture, religion and language. At present the older children have heard of Unicef but are not clear about the origins of the UNCRC and the role that Unicef plays in promoting and protecting children’s rights around the world.
Teachers are using the language of rights, respect and responsibilities and the school is making the most of assemblies, songs, special events and the creative opportunities for illustrating rights and responsibilities. There are some excellent examples of creative artwork and class charters which have an international/global theme to them. There were examples of windmills, flowers, posters, “hands” and many more examples of illustrating rights and responsibilities in the foyer and class rooms and corridors. Teachers are using a range of methods to include children’s ideas and questions into their planning and teaching. Teachers are taking into account children’s questions when topic planning and are using a skills based, enquiry approach to learning. This means that children can have a say in their learning. The assessment for learning approach also means that children can assess their own learning and indicate their level of understanding. The school is making the most of other opportunities, such as Enterprise weeks and events such as Operation Christmas and even school productions to enhance children’s understanding of rights and responsibilities, sustainability and Fairtrade.
3. Creating and maintaining a Rights Respecting ethos The school is gradually developing and enhancing its school ethos based on the UNCRC. Charters are now being used in the playground and the lunchtimes, as well as the classrooms. Staff are modelling rights and using the language of rights and responsibilities as set out in the class charters. RRS language is being used to resolve conflicts and any inappropriate behaviour. Rights have also been seen as an approach to dealing with issues at break time and in the hall during lunchtime. The deputy has produced guidance for lunchtime supervisors to support the RRS approach. Community Cohesion The school is seeking to involve the local community as much as possible as well as reaching out to other communities in the UK. Parents were informed about the school’s plans for RRS at a very successful parents’ evening and parents have subsequently received information via newsletters and the website. Some parents also attend assemblies and the school is making every effort to make parents welcome in an informal setting. The chair of the Friends of the School commented in a letter to the school that she felt that all extra resources provided were, “represented by the whole school, …children respect there value to their learning ...children demonstrate respect for others, themselves and their surroundings …this is largely due to the work that the school does in regards to the Charter for the Rights of the Child. The school is part of the local pyramid of schools who are seeking with local representatives to become a rights respecting community. The school has sought to involve the local community police in talking to pupils about anti social behaviour using the language of rights and responsibilities. The school links with a school in London to develop children’s understanding of children in a different environment with different cultures and traditions. The deputy headteacher is also clear that the language of rights and responsibilities is growing across the school and that the RRS approach is helping children a broader view of different peoples and cultures both in the UK and globally. The school is aware of the possibility of a link with a school in another part of the world – but is also keen to proceed towards that in a very careful and considered way.
4. Engaging and Empowering Children and Young People in a Rights Respecting School Pupils are developing their ability to express their views, both in the classroom and in the school council. The school council is developing its role and might be a forum for further discussion and monitoring of the RRS journey. The council has chosen equipment for the school and also discussed with the headteacher issues around playtimes and lunchtimes. When the members of the council prompted could think of other ways to improve the school. As yet there is no steering group involving children, and adults, to monitor and evaluate progress towards level 2. Although governors are very active in the school, as yet there is no formal link between the school council and the governors. The school has developed a wide range of opportunities to involve children in taking action to improve their own lives and the lives of children locally and globally. There are several charities and events such as Enterprise week and international arts week help raise the childrenâ€™s awareness of other people and places around the world. The school has an Eco club and Eco bugs that help with recycling and saving energy /electricity around the school. Children were also consulted about the new buildings. The school has developed understanding around charity work and the international dimension. It is aware of the need to fully integrate many of these strands into a global citizen/dimension approach to learning. At present children are aware of the links between childrenâ€™s rights, charity work, the environment, sustainability and Fairtrade when prompted by direct questions. Making these connections in all the childrenâ€™s minds will be part of the journey towards Level 2.
5. Qualities relating to global citizenship
6. The Future The assessors would like to suggest the next steps on the Rights Respecting journey, to embed the ethos of rights and responsibilities even further in the school, by continuing to; Develop childrenâ€™s knowledge and understanding of the origins of the UNCRC and the role of UNICEF in promoting and protecting childrenâ€™s rights around the world. Using the UNCRC as a basis to develop further the links with governors, parents and the local community Consider carefully the value of linking with another school in a different part of the world Plan a learning walk in a Level 2 school to explore the global dimension further and consider further staff training in the global dimension Continue to include rights and responsibilities in any future policy reviews Develop a steering group to support, monitor and review the impact of the RRS approach and the progress towards Level 2 of the RRSA
Mike Hillary, Senior Inspector, Dorset, and Rights-Respecting Schools Co-ordinator