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Holcombe Grammar School celebrate becoming a Gold: Rights Respecting School

July 3, 2024 11:53am


Holcombe Grammar School receives national Gold Rights Respecting School award

Students and staff at Holcombe Grammar School are celebrating achieving the Gold UNICEF Rights Respecting School (RRSA) award. The secondary school is one of only three in the South East of England and two in Kent to have been awarded Gold.

Holcombe Grammar started its RRSA journey in September 2021, and shortly after they were awarded Bronze in December of that same year. Continuing to embed the rights of children into daily life at the school, Holcombe progressed to be awarded Silver status in May 2023 and now just over a year later, the highest accolade of the RRSA programme, Gold status.

The accreditation is presented by UNICEF UK when a school demonstrates that children’s rights and the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are fully embedded into the whole school’s practice.

In order to achieve the ‘Gold: Rights Respecting’ status, the school – which is a proud member of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust – was assessed by one of UNICEF’s advisors, who looks at the school’s rights respecting work.

The report recognised: “The high value based on pupil voice and wide range of leadership opportunities. There are several different mechanisms for children to feed into decision-making and leadership in different areas of school life. The children felt listened to, that their views matter and that they could make a positive difference.”

When discussing how the school’s young people enjoy the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Lee Preston, Headteacher of the school said: “We wanted to have a charter, not a list of rules. We did a big consultation with staff and students, and we will look at it again for the next year.” A pupil followed up, commenting: “They want the best for us, all teachers do, so we can thrive in later life.”

It was noted that there is a language of respect around the school, with pupils saying: “We learn about self-respect and respecting others.” When talking about how the school’s positive relationships are founded on dignity and mutual respect for rights between staff and students, a teacher said: “The word community is the main thing; it’s not staff versus pupils. We are working together and feel allied in our approach.”

The Captains Team leads the school council which meets termly, and members share ideas and concerns from their peers. Looking at the impact of student voice and the school’s ‘You said, We did’ campaign work, Mr Preston commented: “Success breeds success; when they [the students] have suggested something and they see we have done it, they are more likely to engage with this.” The school regularly updates the students on actions that have been taken following their suggestions. This includes the return of their Founder’s Day celebrations post-covid, which is now on it’s third year since its relaunch and the request for more whole school collaboration that concluded in a number of activity days for students to work together across year groups.