The Educate Together School for Douglas and Rochestown in Cork has become the second primary school in Ireland to receive the prestigious gold award from the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
The award is bestowed on schools that can demonstrate how they have fully embedded children’s rights throughout the school, including in its policies, practice, and ethos.
The award was three years in the making, with the school working hard to achieve the status, according to student council member and fourth-class student, Penny Moran, age 10.
"We did various activities with all of our different classes in school. We made art, we learned about human rights, and sang different songs.”
First-class students did ‘pick-up pals’, she added. “They went around the community and picked up any litter they found and helped to make the community a cleaner and nicer place.”
Second-class student Nessa Weldon, 8, said their work for the project involved learning and teaching others about the importance of children’s rights.
“We learned about all different types of rights, and that every child should be allowed to have their rights. Some of these are the right to education, the right to food, a right to a home, a right to play, and a right to clean water."
Fourth-class student Giacomo Gastoldi, 11, said the project included a focus on art and working together.
“In our class, everyone got a certain right to imagine and draw on a sheet of paper. Then we stuck it all together to show how we all fit together, and it showed all our rights.”
This was then put together as a collaborative art project and placed on display in the school.
The school marked the occasion on Wednesday with a visit from Unicef and a celebration full of music. The school also welcomed the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Deirdre Forde and members of the school's parents' council.
Sixth-class student Belle Tiptaft, 12, said: “It was an exciting day. We did a lot of singing, we did a lot of celebrating. All the hard work was worth it. We’re the second primary school in Ireland to ever receive the award.”
Teacher and assistant principal at Douglas Rochestown Educate Together Ciara Lynch said: “It’s a real achievement so we’re very proud of the children and of all the work they have put in.”
This included organising fundraisers for children's charity Barretstown, as well as fundraisers to support children from around the world, with a focus on refugees from Ukraine, and local clean-ups.
The UNICEF Child Rights Schools programme sees schools work to embed children’s rights throughout their day-to-day activities.