Tag Archives: my rights

Pupil Voice: Respecting Rights at our School⤴

from @ Reach

At most schools, there’s lots of talk about children’s rights. Rights are like promises to make sure that you are treated fairly, kept safe, and have what you need to live a good life. Learning about your rights at school can help you feel more cared for and in control of your future.

You might have questions about what rights are and why they’re such a big deal. Questions like… What rights do I have? What does it mean to respect everyone’s rights at school? Are my wants and my needs always the same as my rights? What happens when children’s rights are denied?

These are all good questions.

UNICEF rights respecting school logoThe charity UNICEF helps school to explore more about what rights are with their ‘Rights Respecting School’ award. 

Here’s what a few pupils at Ross High have to say about their school being a rights respecting school:

‘It has had a huge positive impact on my learning and I have a greater awareness of my rights and how that impacts my education.’ Hannah, S4

‘Moving from primary, to a rights respecting school, I have made really good relationships with my friends and teachers. I have learnt more about my rights and how it affects me and my family.’ Euan, S1

‘People are more aware of their rights and are putting them to practise.’ Leiha, S2

Ross High rights respecting schoolHere’s what Ailiya and Emma in S4 at Ross High shared with Reach:

“Our school is very proud that we successfully achieved our Level Two Rights Respecting Schools award, the first Secondary School to do so in East Lothian.

Being in a Rights Respecting School gives all the pupils a voice and a platform where pupils can express their opinion. For example we have our Pupil Council, Junior Leadership Team and Senior Leadership teams.

Being in a Rights Respecting School means everyone is aware of their rights as it is taught and applied in class but also shown with class displays and posters throughout the school.

We also have the privilege of having a mural outside our school, that was created by the Children’s Parliament . A group of our pupils went to a primary school to see how the mural was being made but also meeting the children behind it. This was a great opportunity to interact with younger years and find out their view on rights.

Ross High School is a place where pupils, teachers and the community have great respect for each other and their surroundings.”

Rights respecting school journey

Find out more about the bronze, silver and gold rights respecting schools awards, and how children’s rights can be a lived reality in your school. 


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3 reasons why pupil participation at school matters⤴

from @ Reach


Image reproduced with the permission of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.

There are lots of ways that pupils can get involved in decision making at school. Pupil councils, school votes, giving feedback to teachers, having a say in how the school is run and what you learn. But why does pupil participation matter?

Here are 3 reasons why pupils should have a voice at school:

1.It’s your right!

As a young person, you have the right to have a say in decisions that affect you. That is just one of a long list of rights set out in an international law that almost every country in the world is signed up to. It’s got a long name: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the UNCRC for short). Basically, it’s a list of  promises to young people to listen to you, keep you safe, look after you and treat you fairly.

2. Participate + listened to + included = ‘Do well’.

The team at the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland  came up with this nifty way of putting it after talking to over 130 pupils from 7 schools around Scotland: Being listened to, actively included in school life and decision making and feeling respected is key to helping young people do well at school”.

When pupils get the chance to share their views then the Commissioner’s research shows that this helps you do well at school, because you feel more respected and included. “It makes you more confident ’cause you speak out” as one pupil put it. Another pupil said that at their school “there’s a really high level of mutual respect, that pupils listen to the teachers, but the teachers listen – and value- the pupils’ points of view and things to say, so it makes you more confident and you’re open with your ideas.” Getting on with your teacher seemed  really important to pupils feeling able to speak out: “The good relationship with the teacher makes you feel comfortable asking for extra help. Because sometimes it can seem a wee bit daunting especially when you’re in a classroom”.

3. No one else can think about what makes school work well in the way you can.

No one else has the ideas that you have or can think the way that you think. Your words and your thoughts are unique, just like you. It’s only by listening to all their pupils that schools can work out what is best for each and every one of you. As one young person who took part in the research put it: “pupil involvement that the school gives us and responsibility….not just at the pupil council…it’s every single pupil”.

You are never too young to use your voice to speak up about stuff that you care about. And you can use your voice to make a difference to other people at school too.  “We’re more aware of the problems in the school than the teachers. They can’t see it from a pupil point of view. The same as we can’t see it from a teacher point of view”. 


So that’s it! Three good reasons you can’t argue with….

What are your experiences (good or bad) of having a say at school? We’d love to hear from you. 

Here’s the link to the full report and a BSL version of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner report How Young People’s Participation in School Supports Achievement and Attainment.



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What helps young people feel included in school?⤴

from @ Reach

Hello, I’m Mark, I’m a 17-year-old pupil at school in Cumbernauld and I’m the Inclusion Ambassador for North Lanarkshire.

I went to Luxembourg to represent Scotland in a Europe-wide inclusive education conference. When we were there I got a good idea of what was important for pupils all over Europe – the key message is “Everything about us, with us”. We want to be heard and we want to have a say in anything that has to do with us. We are the experts in our own needs and we know what works and what doesn’t.

This is not just a message for politicians. It is the teachers that make the immediate difference to how inclusive a school is.

Take my school – before I moved up to high school my year head met with my parents and me. We worked out barriers for me in and around the school, spoke with teachers in private to make sure they understood my needs and made a clear plan for every type of situation at school. This might all seem quite a bit of work for one pupil, yet this only took three meetings and it was all made so much easier because of the talking and listening that went on between me and the teacher.

Sadly, some pupils do not have such a good experience as me, which is why I’m pleased to be one of the Inclusion Ambassadors for Education Scotland. We are a national group of young people who act as a ‘voice’ for pupils on inclusion. We share our views and experiences with Scottish Government Ministers, local authorities and schools. We are hoping to develop resources, a school pledge and a film in the coming months.

Here are three of our top priorities to make schools more inclusive:

  • Social Problems: being excluded at break times and not having enough chances to be included and make friends are big issues. My school found a way around this by setting up a club where pupils could play computer games and socialise. This helped pupils who were often quiet to come out of their shell.
  • Issues with Support staff: For some pupils (but not all), having support staff can sometimes feel like a barrier to their social life, and they might not need them as they get older.
  • Awareness: We feel that there isn’t enough done by schools to raise awareness of the issues that pupils face or the reasons they need support. The worst thing schools can do is to pick out a specific pupil – that’s just everyone’s worst nightmare – but what schools can do is to educate the year group that other people have different needs and promote the fact that you are a diverse and inclusive school so it’s great to have all types of pupils.

For me, talking and listening are the key to true inclusion because without this everything you might be doing could be entirely irrelevant to the pupil. After all, how can you include someone who isn’t involved in the conversation?



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2017 – a big year for young people’s rights⤴

from @ Reach

Rights are used to make sure you feel safe, looked after, respected and listened to. They are like a list of promises for treating you fairly.

In Scotland, there is a law that gives you the right to get extra support if you are having a hard time at school for any reason. This law is called the Additional Support for Learning Act (or the ASL Act for short).

The ASL Act makes sure that people listen to what you and your parents and carers think about your learning needs. It gives your parents and carers rights to ask your school to find out if you need extra support at school. If you’re over 16 you have the same rights as your parents and carers  (as long as you are able to give your views, take part in decisions and understand what they might mean to you in school).

How the law is changing to give pupils more rights ….

Last year, after listening and talking to lots of young people, families and professionals, the Scottish Government decided to pass a new law (called the Education Act 2016) to give younger people the same rights as parents, carers and over 16s.

What does this mean for me???

This means that, from November 2017 (when the new rights kick in), if you’re 12 or over (and you are able to give your views, take part in decisions and understand what they might mean to you in school) you’ll have rights like being able to ask your school to find out if you need extra support, or make an appeal if you’re not happy with the support you’re getting.

What do young people think about these new rights?

Young people who talked to the charity Children in Scotland thought having more rights was a good idea because:

“Your parents might not understand what’s right.”

 “You understand yourself more than anyone.”

 “Everyone should have rights and that should be respected.”

but one pupil said:

“I wouldn’t understand them, I would like someone to tell me about them. It would help me if someone went through them with me.”


Confused? Don’t worry! Laws are complicated things. We are here to help you understand your rights to support at school. Contact us to find out more about the law and how it is changing.



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Cyberbullying – let’s beat it!⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

IT helps us make friends and get in touch with other folk in lots of ways. Things like facebook, youtube and instant messaging have given us a new space to hang out in. But, as respectme tell us in their new leaflet, like the other places we go, there are risks to using IT – and one of these is bullying.

Cyberbullying can make you feel left out and hurt.  People using mobile phones, emails, instant messaging, online gaming, and social networking can use them to:

  • Send hurtful text messages
  • Call people names on social networking pages
  • Pick on others online because of who they are, or because someone thinks they’re ‘different’.

In a Beat Bullying survey of about 2,500 young people, 50% said they’d been cyberbullied; 29% told no-one; 73% said they knew who was sending them bullying messages and 11% admitted to cyberbully behaviour.

You can find out more about cyber-bullying on respectme’s website.

If you’re being bullied, it can be hard to tell someone. But it really helps to talk to someone you trust.

Not sure who to talk to? Childline are there for you! Call them on 0800 1111 or have an online chat 1-to-1 with a counsellor.

Living with sight loss and enjoying books: Guest blogger has her say about Haggeye’s campaign⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Hi. My name is Tuesday Berry, I am 21 years old and live in Glasgow.  At six months old I was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. I am currently studying Creative Industries at West College Scotland.

The Balmoral Hotel holds a special place in the hearts of Harry Potter fans as the place where J.K. Rowling finished the final chapter of the final book. Dressed in my Hermione costume, complete with scarf and wand, I joined Haggeye there on the 19 October 2012 to campaign for Read for RNIB day.

Walking through the lobby we passed roaring log fires, sparkling chandeliers and grand staircases. Our destination was room 552 – the J.K. Rowling suite. We got the chance to explore the room, including an attempt to fit as many of us as possible into the huge marble bath! The room was complete with a set of Harry Potter books and the desk J.K. Rowling sat at to finish the last word.

Of course the real reason we were there was to raise awareness of accessible books. With only 7% of standard print books transcribed into braille, large print or audio it can be difficult for blind and partially sighted people to enjoy books as fully sighted readers do. I am a huge fan of audio books myself, with my favourite being no surprise – Harry Potter! Audio books allow me to enjoy literature that I otherwise may not have access to. I rarely go a day without listening to one.

Insight Radio were there to interview us on our love of accessible books and all things Potter, as well as STV who filmed us for the news. To top things off my Hermione costume won me a framed Daisy copy of The Deathly Hallows!

We finished off our day by having afternoon tea in the Balmoral restaurant, with an array of sandwiches, scones and cakes to choose from.

Haggeye is a project that brings together young people aged 12 to 25 who are living with sight loss. Hang out with Haggeye on facebook here.





New film by young people at Kindred – how advocacy helps you get your views across⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Check out this film made by some talented young people from Kindred‘s Saturday Nights group. The film is about how advocates can help young people. Not sure what an advocate does? Well, you are not alone! In the survey that the group at Kindred did, 91% of the young people they asked didn’t know what advocacy was. But fear not! All is explained in the film: “an advocate helps you to prepare for important meetings and helps you to speak up. They help you to feel more confident and they make sure you are listened to”.

Why might having an advocate at a meeting be a good idea? Well, as the young people in the film say, we all know how it feels “to be in a meeting and feel too shy to take part and speak up. We agreed that this was very difficult and it made us feel frustrated and upset that our voices were not always heard.”

So…. having an advocate can be a real help. Are there any ways that advocacy in Scotland could be better? These young film-makers had some ace recommendations for the government. They thought there should be fairer opportunities for young people all over Scotland to access advocacy and that more should be done to make sure people have a better understanding of what advocacy is and how it helps.

Launched at the Scottish Parliament, this film was made for a Young Scot project about services for disabled young people around transition time.

Refugee week – getting help with school when you are new to Scotland⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Enquire’s new guide for young people ‘What happens when you can’t go to school?’ is almost ready to print! The guide looks at different reasons why you might not be at school and support that might help. One reason you might not be able to go to school as often as other pupils is because you are a refugee and are new to Scotland. As it’s Refugee Week this week, what better thing to blog about? :)

A refugee is someone who has been forced to leave their country because they have to escape war, persecution, or a natural disaster. If you are new to Scotland as a refugee then school might take a while to get used to – new faces, new ways of teaching, new food, new school uniforms, a new language to learn….

It can be stressful moving to a new country and getting used to everything being so different, and you might find you don’t want to go to school. It can be hard to focus on schoolwork when you are feeling worried about friends and family back home or unsure about what your future holds. You might also find that you have to miss classes because you need to go to interviews or appointments.

The good news is that your teachers must help make sure that you get the right support so school becomes easier for you. Our new guide will have examples of support you might get, like help with your language skills or help to settle in and make friends.

To reserve a copy of our new guide, get in touch with us.

Also, watch this space for our new podcast interview in which young refugees talk about their experiences and issues and the support that has helped them. We will be launching this in the next few weeks :)