Schools strike Unicef gold as Aberdeen gears up for World Children’s Day

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Three more Aberdeen schools have received Unicef recognition as the city looks forward to celebrating World Children’s Day tomorrow (20 November) and commemorating the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Riverbank and Ashley Road Primary Schools as well as Cults Academy have become the latest city schools to receive Unicef Gold Awards as Rights Respecting schools.

In achieving the awards, each of the schools have been commended by Unicef for embedding children’s rights in the pupil’s and staff’s everyday activities.

The awards are important milestones as Aberdeen City Council and its partners work towards achieving Unicef Child Friendly City status making Aberdeen a place where all children – whether they are living in care, using a children’s centre, or simply visiting their local library – have a meaningful say in, and truly benefit from, the local decisions, services and spaces that shape their lives.

Wednesday will see a celebration of World Children’s Day across the city’s schools with a social media takeover of Aberdeen City Council’s Twitter and Facebook highlighting their events and activities to mark the occasion.

Pupils will also be at Marischal College working with staff across the organisation to share their views in a variety of different ways across the day as well as participating in a forthcoming video which will highlight the strides Aberdeen is taking towards becoming a Unicef Child Friendly City.

Council Co Leader, Jenny Laing, said: “Wednesday is a massive day in the calendar for Aberdeen’s children and young people and we are proud supporters of World Children’s Day.

“We have worked tirelessly to give young Aberdonians a platform to express themselves and make their voices heard through projects such as Big Noise Torry and The Children’s Parliament’s Imagineers. We aim to put children’s views at the heart of everything we do and Unicef recognition will really be the icing on the cake”.

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights. The Rights Respecting Schools Award is granted to schools that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights and encouraging adults, children and young people to respect the rights of others in school. Gold is the highest accolade given by Unicef UK and shows a deep and thorough commitment to children’s rights at all levels of school life.

The Award recognises achievement in putting the UNCRC at the heart of a school’s planning, policies and practice. A Rights Respecting School is a community where children’s rights are learned, taught, practised, respected, protected and promoted.

In the case of Riverbank, the Tillydrone school has become the only one in Scotland to have been re-accredited by Unicef at Gold level three times – in 2013, 2016 and now 2019 – and the fantastic achievement is a source of pride to pupil and staff alike.

Deputy Head Teacher, Sarah Sunley, said: “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is at the heart of Riverbank. The school works hard to ensure that children know about their own rights and the rights of children around the world. If you visit Riverbank you will get a real sense of inclusion where pupils feel safe, and nurtured, have a voice and are very much listened to”.

Cults Academy pupils wrote an article to describe their own Gold Award journey which began in autumn 2016. They said: “The cumulation of 2 years’ hard work paid off when by July 2019, the school was accredited as Gold Rights Respecting.

“To secure this title with resounding compliments from our assessors, pupils turned our rights activity up to 100, performing at school concerts, developing the school’s behaviour policy, working with our linked primary schools and creating promotional videos about our various campaigns.

“It’s safe to say, the benefit to pupils, teachers and the wider community at Cults Academy has been phenomenal, and pupils look forward to the future of our rights campaign and the fun and experience to be gained from it”.

Ashley Road School Head Teacher, Anne Wilkinson, said of her school’s fantastic achievement: “The Rights Respecting Schools Gold Award celebrates and recognises the inclusive, respecting and supporting rights-based work that is embedded across our school and underpins every facet of school life.

“Year on year we have been building and developing opportunities for staff and pupil leadership and participation in local and global themes and we were delighted to share many examples of this work with the assessors”.

Frances Bestley, Unicef’s Rights Respecting Schools Award Programme Director said: “We’re very pleased to be working so closely with schools across Aberdeen to embed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in their ethos and culture, making a difference both inside and outside the school. I am thrilled with the difference for children that these schools are making for children in Aberdeen by realising their rights in school.”

The awards are important milestones as Aberdeen City Council and its partners work towards achieving Unicef Child Friendly City status making Aberdeen a place where all children – whether they are living in care, using a children’s centre, or simply visiting their local library – have a meaningful say in, and truly benefit from, the local decisions, services and spaces that shape their lives.