Pupils’ joy after receiving top UNICEF award

Pupils at an Aberdeen school have spoken of their joy after successfully achieving their Gold Rights Respecting Schools award.

Danestone School is one of the schools in the UK that works with the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) to create safe and inspiring places for children to learn and develop in.

The Rights Respecting Schools Award teaches children how to lead healthy, happy lives and to be responsible, active citizens. The initiative launched in 2006 and schools involved have reported a positive impact on their pupils, leading to improved behaviour and less bullying.

The success of Danestone Primary School highlights the commitment of the council and its partners towards achieving UNICEF Child Friendly City Status and comes just before World Children’s Day.

A ‘Child Friendly City’ is one where all partners are actively committed to improving the lives of children and young people by helping them realising their rights as articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Achieving this status will ensure that the city is a place where all children can have a say in and benefit from local decisions, services, and spaces that shape their lives.

UNICEF grants Gold to schools that have embedded children’s rights into its practices, policies, and ethos.

Councillor M. Tauqeer Malik, convener of education, said: “Having one of our schools receive their Gold award from UNICEF is a remarkable achievement for everyone involved.

“Children are able to learn about their rights and are able to see themselves as ambassadors for social justice and fairness.”

Primary 7 pupil Toby said: “I am really proud because we put a lot of hard work into achieving Gold. I feel that it is important for us to teach younger children so that they grow up knowing the rights they have”.

Annabelle, P4, said: “I am so happy that we got the Rights Gold award and everyone in school is trying hard to know and understand the rights. I liked learning about the rights that mean the most to me, like the right to have people look after me.”

Ava, P1, said: “The rights help to look after us.”

Elaine Page, Head Teacher at Danestone said: “Our opportunity to go for Gold and being able to share our learning about, through and for the Rights doesn't feel like an endpoint but just the beginning of our journey to be the best we can be as a Rights Respecting School.”

The global Child Friendly Cities initiative was launched by UNICEF in 1996 and was designed to put the human rights of young people at the heart of local democracy. Aberdeen City Council became one of the first to join the programme in 2017, making a commitment to prioritise the rights and voices of its youngest residents.