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Rights Respecting Award

Primary and secondary schools across Scotland are beginning to engage with the processes of the ‘Rights Respecting School Award’ (RRSA).

This UNICEF initiative is being heavily promoted by the Scottish Government and fits well with the capacities inherent in Curriculum for Excellence and the current schools’ focus on issues such as Restorative Justice, Health and Wellbeing, and Citizenship. Based on the UN Charter of the Rights of the Child, it encourages schools to bring staff, pupils and community together to explore rights and responsibilities as well as to create core values and ethos for a school. It’s an ideal area for the involvement of chaplains, Religious Observance teams and churches. 

To help the school achieve this award one chaplaincy team works in the local secondary in the following ways:

  • They deliver an annual RRSA week for every S1 pupil now written into the school’s Development Plan (since 2009).
  • They take part in an annual ‘Challenging Perceptions’ Day for all S5/6 pupils (since 2008).
  • They helped the school to choose its ‘Core Values’ and to write a whole-school charter of rights and responsibilities (2012). These things will shape the school community for years to come.

How could you start this yourself?

  • Inform yourself: even the briefest internet search on ‘Rights Respecting’ and ‘Rights of the Child’ will get you excited about the possibilities for Christian involvement.
  • See the connections: for example, simply sit with the UN Charter of Rights for the Child and see how many of the phrases and ideas match biblical texts on justice, respect, relationships, integrity, etc. 
  • Then start prayerfully creating and building relationships with your local school – most schools are open to approaches from the community. They want partnership with their communities and they want help with this area which is relatively new to them (values formation) but which churches have centuries of experience in delivering.
  • It’s important to understand the school context and way of working too: so ask if your school has a ‘Rights Respecting Committee’ and offer to assist. Tell them you’d like to help and make their job easier. And always remember that you are a guest in the school – there is no automatic ‘right’ to be there, even for chaplains.