St Ninian’s High School in Kirkintilloch receives prestigious UNICEF UK Gold Award

Wednesday, 20 March, 2024

St Ninian's group with UNICEF BannerSt Ninian’s High School in Kirkintilloch has been awarded Gold by UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting School [opens in a new window] programme. 

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights. The Rights Respecting Schools Award is granted to schools that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights and encouraging adults, children and young people to respect the rights of others in school. 

Gold 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. There are over 600 schools across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales that have received Gold. 

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. 

Councillor Lynda Williamson, Convener of East Dunbartonshire Council’s Education Committee, paid a visit to St. Ninian’s to meet staff and pupils with their Award. 

She said, “This is a fabulous achievement and one which shows a real dedication to the cause of children’s rights and lots of hard work to embed that all across the whole school community. 

“To achieve Gold, schools must implement three evidence-based strands that cover: leadership of the school; knowledge and understanding of children’s rights; ethos and relationships and the empowerment of children and young people. Building on the foundations that have been in place for many years in the school, St. Ninian’s has gone from Bronze to Silver and now Gold. They should be very proud of their achievement in such a fundamentally important aspect of life.” 

Headteacher of St Ninian’s, Paul McLaughlin, added, “We are delighted to receive the Gold Award as a Rights Respecting School from UNICEF UK. To be recognised as a school that puts children’s rights at the heart of our school community makes us all very proud and we look forward to continuing our inspiring journey.” 

St Ninian's pupils with UNICEF bannerThere are 20 Rights Ambassadors in the group made up from pupils in S1 to S6. They are supported by two S6 Rights Captains and three members of staff. These enthusiastic pupils and staff are focused on keeping children’s rights central in everything the school does. Examples of their work include: 

  • Supporting two local Primaries to begin their Rights journey – Ambassadors visited Holy Family and Holy Trinity to teach rights lessons to P1-P7 pupils. 

  • Supporting the empowerment of young people globally - Ambassadors campaigned against the oppression of girls in Iran and the school stood in solidarity with Iranian girls’ protests for freedom of expression. They also highlighted human rights issues in 2022 during the Qatar World Cup. 

Mr McLaughlin continued, “I want to say a huge thank you to all pupils and staff for their efforts in showcasing that our values permeate everything we do. I am certain that this award will help us to continue to keep our school the fantastic place that we all know it is.” 

Programme Director for RRSA, Martin Russell, said, “Children at St Ninian’s High School understand and are strongly committed to children’s rights. They are listened to, participate fully in school life and have a strong understanding of the wider world. It is clear that the school’s Rights Respecting work has created positive and empowering learning environment for all and we are very pleased to award them Gold: Rights Respecting.”  

The UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools initiative is aimed at schools across the UK, including those in an early years setting. Currently, it works with nearly 5,000 primary schools, secondary schools, schools for children and young people with special educational needs and pupil referral units across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Schools have reported a positive impact on pupil behaviour, relationships and well-being by enhancing pupils’ self-esteem, leading to less truancy and bullying, better learning and improved academic standards.


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