Sandwick Junior High School has became the first “rights respecting school” in Shetland, and pupils were today presented with a certificate by MSP Tavish Scott to mark this achievement.
To gain the UN award which safeguards the rights of children a group of pupils identified the issues to be enshrined in a new charter.
These are: the right to an education to develop skills for life, the right to be safe at school and home and have people to talk to, the right to join groups and make friends, the right to be respected and have your voice heard, and the right to get involved in all activities and not be discriminated against.
Presenting the award, Mr Scott said: “This is an important day for Sandwick Junior High School and a profoundly important issue for Shetland and wider education. It is a great tribute to the staff and students to achieve this status.”
Head teacher Stuart Clubb said the award was “a huge achievement for the whole school.” He said that every pupil at the school, from age three to 16, had been involved, as well as teachers, cooks, janitors and parents.
He said: “It is something close to our hearts. It fits with the ethos of the school [that we have] respect for everyone in the building. We wanted to take up the challenge of doing it across the school. Everyone should be very proud.” He added that he believes Sandwick junior high is the only one in Scotland to have involved every age group.
Childrens’ rights officer at Citizens’ Advice Bureau Phil Garnier, who was at the ceremony, said it was not an academic award, but the values embedded often led to improved behaviour and educational attainment. These values can be seen in posters in the school highlighting concepts such as fair trade and good citizenship.
Now pupils have achieved the award, which is at level one, they can be assessors for other schools – Olnafirth is to be assessed next week.