Wholeschool Portal | Home 22 October 2018
 UNICEF RRS Award Level 1


John O’Dowd Minister of Education has congratulated St Mary’s High School Newry on achieving a top award from UNICEF.  The UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award is an initiative which recognises a schools achievement in placing the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of planning, policies and ethos. 
Speaking at the school the Minister said: 

“The rights of a child should be central to every schools ethos.  A rights – respecting ethos affects all aspects of school life, from leadership and management, learning about the convention and empowering young people to become active citizens achieving their full potential. 
I want to congratulate St Mary’s on their achievement in being awarded a UNICEF Right’s Respecting School. I am impressed by the work being done by all of the school staff and pupils here. Education has a vital role in ensuring young people are equipped with the skills and confidence they need to succeed in future life. Earlier I had the pleasure of meeting the School council; it is they who give the young people at the school a voice and who can help have a positive impact on the decisions that affect them and how the school is run. It was by talking and listening to them I was able to see the very real and practical way they are developing rights, responsibilities and respect for all.  I want to thank UNICEF for their continued support. Working together we can all work towards placing the needs and rights of children and young people at the centre of our education system.” Teresa Bergin, Director of Programmes at UNICEF UK added:
“Rights Respecting Schools place the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the heart of school life and have been shown to improve attendance, reduce bullying and develop more tolerant students. Today’s visit by Education Minister, John O’Dowd once again shows the strong commitment of the Northern Irish Executive to children and UNICEF UK looks forward to working closely with the Executive to place children’s rights at the heart of Northern Irish life.”

St Mary’s High School has been awarded the first level in UNICEF’s Rights Respecting School Award for its work ensuring children's rights is at the heart of school life.

To achieve the award the school had to achieve four key standards set by UNICEF: rights-respecting values have to underpin all leadership and management; the whole school has to learn about the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); the school has to have a rights-respecting ethos; and children have to actively participate in decision-making throughout the school.

The aim of the programme, which involves schools throughout the 
, is to ensure all children learn in a rights respecting school where the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is fully embedded in values and practice.

St Mary’s school has become the first Post Primary school in the SELB to achieve the award and one of only 33 Post Primary schools in the United Kingdom
 to have reached the standard. The school's standards were examined by a UNICEF assessor before the award was made.

Principal, Margo Cosgrove, said: “St Mary’s High School has always been a community school which values pupil voice and the contributions our children make to our school, the local community and the wider world. We are delighted to have achieved this award which recognizes the articulate, mature individuals our children are becoming and encapsulates all we believe about a well rounded education at its best.”