Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Leeds special school receives prestigious UNICEF award

"Young people and staff from the North West SILC celebrate getting their Rights Respecting School Award from UNICEF"

A special school in north west Leeds has become the first school in Leeds to get a prestigious UNICEF award for its commitment promote children’s rights.

The North West Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (NW SILC) based around Penny Field and Green Meadows Special Schools in Meanwood and Guiseley, were awarded with the prestigious Rights Respecting School Award by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working specifically for children.

UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting School Award recognises schools which show a high commitment to promoting children’s rights and encourage children and young people to respect the rights of others. All classes within the NWSILC, have highlighted the key rights for their class and this has led to a greater understanding and appreciation of not only their own rights but the responsibility they have to each other. Rights respecting language and actions are already embedded in classrooms and promoted alongside existing social and emotional learning to ensure a consistent approach to the development and well-being of pupils.

Pupil participation opportunities are being extended into developing leadership skills for pupils with a clear focus on their involvement in curriculum development. Pupils are encouraged and supported to express their views appropriately and are involved in decisions which affect them.

The RRSA initiative now involves over 2500 primary and secondary schools in the UK who have reported that the scheme has had a positive impact on pupil behaviour, relationships and well-being by enhancing pupil’s self-esteem and leading to less truancy and bullying, better learning and improved academic standards.
The North West SILC has been awarded with the Level 1 certificate to mark their achievement.

The school’s principal, Michael Purches said:
“I was keen to work with UNICEF UK on the Rights Respecting School Initiative and embed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into the school culture. Respect has played a major part in learning and is the main ethos of our school. Working towards the Award has helped us further develop our curriculum and has led to higher levels of pupil participation. This has shown that pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities, despite some of their challenges, can still be considered as truly global citizens!”

Mr Purches went on to say:

“We were attracted to following UNICEF’s Rights Respecting Schools Award because it seemed to provide an umbrella for so many of our development priorities, such as the development of SEAL (the social and emotional aspects of learning) and increasing pupil participation in shaping their learning. We had looked at a number of quality marks and we wanted something that would support our whole school ethos statement. This award was the obvious choice – and from such a well-respected global organisation!”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services, said:
“This is a fantastic achievement for a wonderful school. The involvement of the children and young people in working towards this award has been paramount and the effects will be long lasting – creating a respectful and responsible environment for all pupils at the SILC.”
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Notes to editors:
*Level 1 of the UNICEF UK RRS Award examines the leadership and management of a school and how it incorporates the values of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into the whole ethos of the school and its curriculum. It examines teaching and learning in classrooms, whether pupils are encouraged to participate in decision-making processes at the school and how the school helps pupils develop as global citizens.

• The Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) recognises achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at the heart of a school’s planning, policies, practice and ethos. A rights-respecting school not only teaches about children’s rights but also models rights and respect in all its relationships: between teachers / adults and pupils, between adults and between pupils. It is being successfully implemented in all settings – Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Special Needs and Pupil Referral Units – across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. For further information, visit www.unicef.org.uk/rrsa

• The main areas of impact are:
- improved self-esteem and wellbeing
- improved behaviour and relationships (reductions in bullying and exclusions, and improved
- positive attitudes towards diversity
- improved engagement in learning
- children and young people’s support for global justice
- children and young people become more engaged in discussing,planning and reviewing their own
Notes end

Local jobs for local people secured by council

The council is working closely with developers bringing new jobs to the city to ensure that local people are involved from stage one.

Over the next two – four years over 700 million is being invested in the city in developments such as the Arena and Trinity , which will create over 13,000 job opportunities.

Employment Leeds, the business facing arm of Leeds City Council, which was established in January 2011, is working with businesses to ensure that these jobs go to local people.

Employment Leeds are not only working with the large developments across the city but businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. The team works with employers at any stage of the business process, from an initial enquiry regarding land buildings or recruitment, through to the development of current and future workforces.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for employment and skills said:
“Over the next few years there will be a huge amount invested in our city into new shopping developments, and other exciting areas such as the Arena.

“It is an exciting time for Leeds as more investment is put into the city, and many more jobs are created.

“Employment Leeds has been set up to ensure that these businesses, along with other businesses across the city are working with local people to ensure the majority of jobs are given to local people. We want Leeds to grow as a city, and become the ‘best city’, and to do that we need to start locally.

“The team has worked hard to build relationships with businesses of all sizes across the city, and have already helped a number of companies and people seeking work.”

Case Study 1 – Barkston Plastic Ltd
Mark Leah, project manager for Barkston Plastic Ltd recently launched a new manufacturing division to his company called Sustainable Options. It recycles outdoor furniture, landscaping and construction materials. He contacted Employment Leeds at the start of the creation of Sustainable Options to help him find the right staff.

Mr Leah said:
“I would like to thank Employment Leeds for the service they provided in finding a suitable candidates for our operation. I would highly recommend this service to any potential employer and will certainly use this service again in the future.

Supported by £700,000 of funding from the European Development Fund, Employment Leeds is able to offer support to employers who are seeking to expand, invest or develop in the city .It offers companies a single point of contact in the city, and opens up a network of partners across the city who can provide additional support and advice.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk