Leading the way in respect and kindness – East Devon school celebrates becoming the first in the county to scoop a gold UNICEF award

Pupils at a secondary school in East Devon are celebrating becoming the first in the county to scoop a gold UNICEF award for leading the way in respect and kindness.

Clyst Vale Community College, in Broadclyst, East Devon, was recently presented with the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools (RRS) Award – an accolade for education establishments that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights; encouraging adults and young people to respect others in their learning community.

Clyst Vale Community College (CVCC) has been named the first secondary school in Devon and Cornwall to achieve the award – joining more than 600 schools across the UK to have received gold.

Dr Kevin Bawn, CVCC Principal, said the school was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the award, praising the staff, students – and teacher, Sara Watt, who has coordinated the RRS task for five years.

Dr Bawn said: “The gold award is a validation of Clyst Vale’s distinctive ethos and values. In so doing, we are reducing prejudice and making the school a safer place. The world is not in a good way right now, so it’s more important than ever to teach young people about kindness, tolerance, and respecting difference.

“What it means in practice is that children’s rights and human rights are taught explicitly in subjects and through tutorials and assemblies.

“Additional themed activities take place – for example we have recently run Diversity Fortnight.

“We use the language of rights when speaking to students. Three key concepts of respect, participation and learn underpin our ethos, approaches to behaviour, everything.

“It’s not soft and fluffy, either. Sometimes we have to be extremely firm with students who are preventing other students from enjoying their rights in school.

“And the award is brilliant, but it’s not the end. There is still loads more that we plan to do in the future.”

The community college has been working with UNICEF UK since September 2017, receiving a silver award and certificate in July 2019.

A spokesperson for CVCC said: “The path to gold was delayed by the Covid pandemic and lockdowns.”

The gold award recognises achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of a school’s planning, policies and practice, said CVCC.

“A Rights Respecting School is a community where children’s rights are learned, taught, practised, respected, protected and promoted,” said the CVCC spokesperson.

The community college’s gold award report highlights strengths including ‘a strong commitment to children’s rights’

The report found: “Students know that their opinions and ideas are listened to and feel empowered to drive change within the school and in their community.

“They are proud of being a Rights Respecting School….Positive and supportive relationships based on mutual respect and linked to the school’s ‘Respect, Participate, Learn’ ethos.”

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