What are children’s rights and why are they a big deal?

At most schools, there’s lots of talk about children’s rights. Rights are like promises to make sure that you are treated fairly, kept safe, and have what you need to live a good life. Learning about your rights at school can help you feel more cared for and in control of your future.

You might have questions about what rights are and why they’re such a big deal. Questions like… What rights do I have? What does it mean to respect everyone’s rights at school? Are my wants and my needs always the same as my rights? What happens when children’s rights are denied?

These are all good questions.

The Youth Voice: What’s being a rights respecting school like?

UNICEF rights respecting school

The charity UNICEF helps school to explore more about what rights are with their ‘Rights Respecting School’ award. 


We asked Ailiya and Emma in S4 at Ross High to explain what being a rights respecting school is all about:

“Our school is very proud that we successfully achieved our Level Two Rights Respecting Schools award, the first Secondary School to do so in East Lothian.

Being in a Rights Respecting School….

  1. “Gives all the pupils a voice and a platform where pupils can express their opinion. For example we have our Pupil Council, Junior Leadership Team and Senior Leadership teams.
  2. Means everyone is aware of their rights as it is taught and applied in class but also shown with class displays and posters throughout the school. We also have a mural outside our school created by the Children’s Parliament . A group of our pupils went to a primary school to see how the mural was being made and find out their view on rights.
  3. Means Ross High is a place where pupils, teachers and the community have great respect for each other and their surroundings.”The youth voice at Ross High on being a rights respecting school



What difference can being a rights respecting school make? 

  • ‘It has had a huge positive impact on my learning and I have a greater awareness of my rights and how that impacts my education.’ Hannah, S4
  • ‘Moving from primary, to a rights respecting school, I have made really good relationships with my friends and teachers. I have learnt more about my rights and how it affects me and my family.’ Euan, S1
  • ‘People are more aware of their rights and are putting them to practise.’ Leiha, S2

UNICEF poster of Rights respecting school journey

Find out more about the bronze, silver and gold rights respecting schools awards, and how children’s rights can be a lived reality in your school.