UNICEF accolade for Good Shepherd PS

BBC Radio Foyle's Gerry Anderson addresses pupils from Good Shepherd PS who were awarded the Rights Rspecting School Award. (2411SL17)
BBC Radio Foyle's Gerry Anderson addresses pupils from Good Shepherd PS who were awarded the Rights Rspecting School Award. (2411SL17)

A Derry primary school has been recognised for its work in promoting the rights of children.

Good Shepherd Primary School in the Waterside this week received the level one Rights Respecting School Award from the international children’s rights charity UNICEF.

Teacher and programme coordinator Aine Kivlehan is delighted that the school’s commitment to the initiative and the hard work of pupils has been recognised.

“We have seen it make a huge difference to children, giving the pupils a new way of thinking and of developing their understanding of what it is to be a citizen, not just locally but also in an international context.”

To achieve the award, schools must demonstrate links between their work and the articles in the UNCRC-United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Mrs Kivlehan says the initiative, running at the school over the last 18 months, places the UNCRC at the heart of the school community’s management, policies and ethos.

A key aspect of the initiative is the election of pupils to sit on the school council - a body which in turn gives pupils input into the decision making process at the school.

She says the Rights Respecting ideology directly empowers pupils.

“It allows the UNICEF principals to directly guide how the school is managed,” she says.

Presentation ceremony

Pupils also were responsible for organising a presentation ceremony on Wednesday, overseen by the BBC’s Gerry Anderson.

The award recognises the development of pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the UNCRC through respecting each others’ rights in everyday contexts, working for global justice and valuing diversity and environmental sustainability.

A practical application of the UNCRC articles must be evident in the classroom environment where staff and pupils interact.

The UNICEF initiative has seen the Derry school forge links with a school in China.

A partnership with a school in Africa is now among future proposals as the school works towards achieving level two status, following its Rights Respecting School Award.