Published: Thursday, 18th February 2021

The Will Adams Centre has become the first secondary Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in the UK to receive a Gold Rights Respecting Schools Award from The United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK).

Students are placed at the school by the Medway Inclusion Team after a permanent exclusion. The school helps some of the most vulnerable young people in the area; 40% of the students are entitled to free school meals and many pupils have additional needs.

The Will Adams Centre has been working with UNICEF UK since 2016, achieving a Silver award in April 2019 before reaching Gold in January 2021. The school joins nearly 500 other schools in the UK who have achieved the highest level of Rights Respecting Schools.

The Rights Respecting Schools 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.

Teaching and learning about children’s rights has had a profound impact on a school with a challenging and transient student population and has helped to build positive relationships with parents and carers.

Participation in Rights Respecting Schools helps students to develop a positive attitude to their education and to develop them individually as active global citizens. This in turn helps students to relate and respond differently to their often challenging personal contexts.

Teachers at the Will Adams Centre worked with children to explore the issue of child labour abroad and through doing so opened up space for conversations to take place exploring the issues of sexual exploitation, drug dealing and county lines closer to home.

By learning about children’s rights through Rights Respecting Schools students understand that their education is a right and that this can not be taken away because they have been excluded from mainstream education.

Incredibly proud of what our staff and students have achieved 

Headteacher of the Will Adams Centre, Mrs Karen Bennett, said: “I am incredibly proud of what the Rights Respecting Award Team led by Susan Wade, both staff and students, have achieved during this particularly difficult period.

“Over the last four years children’s rights have been firmly embedded in the school ethos, students are aware that they have a role to play in building the school and have gained confidence in voicing their opinions to initiate change. By working on Rights Respecting Schools students can see themselves as part of a wider world, outside of their own bubble.

“Their charity work for the local community and more recently under privileged children abroad, has opened them up to the plight of children across the world and allowed them to see themselves as part of the wider community.  The team and the rest of the school have worked exceptionally hard and deserve this accolade.”

Congratulations to everyone involved

​Cllr Martin Potter, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Education, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved at the Will Adams Centre. The entire school community has worked hard to achieve the UNICEF Gold Rights Respecting Schools Award. It is testament to the school’s ethos of putting the children’s needs first.

“The Pupil Referral Unit provides specialist support to students to help them develop their skills and reach their full potential. Many students flourish at the Will Adams Centre, improving their educational outcomes and building positive relationships with parents and carers. This support has continued throughout the coronavirus pandemic and I am proud of the teachers and pupils for their dedication and hard work. Well done again to everyone at the Will Adams Centre, very well deserved.” 

 Everyone should be proud

UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Programme Director, Frances Bestley, said: “We are very pleased to be awarding Gold: Rights Respecting to Will Adams PRU – the first secondary PRU in the UK to achieve Gold: Rights Respecting.

“It is clear that all staff and students are deeply committed to fully embedding children’s rights in the school’s ethos and culture. Through its Rights Respecting work, Will Adams PRU has created a positive and supportive learning environment where vulnerable students are empowered to become active citizens, both within and beyond the school gates.

“We were very impressed by the atmosphere of mutual respect and trust that pervades throughout the school. Everyone should be proud of how they have truly put the Convention at the heart of their school.”

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