Aberdeen pupils are hailed real-life ‘superheroes’ by Unicef

An Aberdeen School has been recognised by United Nations experts for their commitment to fighting injustice – both home and abroad.

Riverbank School, in Tillydrone, has received the Level 2 Award from Unicef UK Rights Respecting School Award for the third time - the only school in Britain to have achieved this.

And to mark Unicef Day of Change (Fri 13 May), the school welcomed Aberdeen City Council Leader, Councillor Jenny Laing, and former Dons captain Russell Anderson, who both saw first-hand why the pupils are regarded as real heroes in their community and further afield.

Head Teacher Susan Ironside and her pupils talked about their involvement in Rights Respecting initiatives – including raising funds and supporting young Syrian refugees and orphans from Uganda. During a day of celebration and other fundraising initiatives, the young people took part in a live Skype exchange with the school they support in Uganda.

The pupils, who recently lobbied Prime Minister David Cameron over the issue of young Syrian refugees, dressed as superheroes for the event.

Described by Unicef experts as “ambassadors” for other schools, Riverbank in Tillydrone is the first in the UK to receive the Rights of the Child Award three times.

The pupils have raised thousands of pounds for Syrian refugees and for a fresh-water pump for a school their partner school in Uganda. They also work with the most vulnerable sections of their own community.

The school has been involved with the Scottish Commissioner for Children’s Rights’ anti-bullying campaign and are currently working with the Children’s Parliament.

The Level 2 Award 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 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 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.

Aberdeen City Council Leader, Councillor Jenny Laing said: “During my visit to Riverbank School I was immediately struck by the positive ethos and behaviour of the pupils and staff. They should all feel very proud for securing the Level 2 Award from Unicef UK Rights Respecting School Award for the third time - the only school in Britain to have achieved this.

“Unicef has rightly recognised the fact that Riverbank’s pupils have instilled within them a set of values which means that when they see injustice, whether at home or abroad, they immediately want to right those wrongs.

“The whole of the city should applaud the hard work that goes on at Riverbank on a daily basis to ensure that all of the school’s children live their lives with a respect for their fellow citizens, and a passion and drive to change the world around them by making life a little bit more bearable for those less fortunate than themselves.

“Riverbank’s real-life superheroes have identified some of the most extreme cases, such as the Ugandan orphans, many of whom have lost their parents from the AIDS virus, and live without clean-running water and electricity, and the children fleeing the conflict in Syria. I hope that other schools around the country will look to Riverbank as a genuine example of how they should help the less fortunate feel more valued and included.”

Head Teacher Mrs Ironside added: “I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication shown by all our pupils, staff and wider school community.

"Being a Rights Respecting school means that all our pupils learn about their rights and the rights of others, including children from across the world and it is amazing that an internationally-renowned organisation like Unicef has recognised the children and all they have achieved.”