Rights Respecting Schools

One of the challenges facing leadership at Pilgrim Pathways School is how we support the development of a coherent sense of values in a community of students who are in crisis and in transit. Our core purpose is to support reintegration so how can we help young people to develop strong values which will be relevant to the diverse communities with which they want to reconnect? 

UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA) provides a structured approach for schools to use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as a values framework. In our context, using rights that are enshrined in British and international law, supports students to connect their own values to globally recognised and clearly defined rights. 

 There are four key areas of impact for children at a Rights Respecting school; wellbeing, participation, relationships and self-esteem. 

The difference that a Rights Respecting School makes goes beyond the school gates, making a positive impact on the whole community. 

  • Children are healthier and happier 

  • Children feel safe 

  • Children have better relationships 

  • Children become active and involved in school life and the wider world 

Students in hospital often voice sadness at the disconnect they feel between themselves and their communities. We are always seeking ways to connect them with a wider community. UNICEF protects and promotes those rights and the Rights Respecting Schools Award seeks to put the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of a school’s ethos and culture to make sure that every child is healthy, educated, treated fairly and listened to. They also make sure that all children are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation. It reminds students that they are part of a Global community which wants to support them and help them thrive.  

 The Award not only empowers students by teaching them about their rights but also seeks to place rights at the heart of classroom practice and whole school leadership. Thus students learn about rights but also experience their rights in action through the relationships built between teacher and student and throughout the ethos of the whole school community. A Rights Respecting School is required to examine all of its processes to enshrine these values at the heart of day to day practice.   

 To achieve the UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award, Pilgrim Pathways School must meet the required standards across four aspects of school life. These are: 

  • Leadership and management which promotes the values of the UNCRC in the life of the school 

  • Knowledge of the UNCRC including an understanding that with rights comes responsibilities 

  • Rights-respecting climate and culture in the classroom 

  • Active pupil participation in decision making

In line with the UNCRC, children understand that their rights are inherent, universal, unconditional, inalienable and indivisible. Here is a short summary of what these words mean: 

  • Inherent – Rights are inherent meaning they are yours because you are born a human. 

  • Indivisible – Rights are indivisible meaning no right is more important than another one. They are equal and linked.  

  • Inalienable – Rights are inalienable meaning you cannot give them away or sell them and no one can take them away from you. 

  • Universal – Rights are universal meaning they are for all children (under 18), everywhere, all the time. 

  • Unconditional – Rights are unconditional meaning they are not a reward and not dependent on a responsibility or performing an action to get them. 


Please CLICK HERE to see how the RRSA links to SMSC and British Values.

Please CLICK HERE to see how RRSA contributes to success for the new Ofsted Framework.