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As a Rights Respecting School the UNCRC is at the heart of the school culture and ethos where we strive to improve well being and develop every child's talents and abilities to their fullest potential.
At The High School Ballynahinch teaching staff work under the GTCNI Core Values but all members of the school community agree to underpin all aspects of school life with the following values:
At The High School Ballynahinch we believe that every school member is a valued individual with a range of abilities and talents which are recognised, respected and developed in order to maximise their potential.
The aims of the school are as follows:
The High School is situated on the main Belfast Road and on the outskirts of the town of Ballynahinch. The school was opened in September 1955. Its position allows easy access from Belfast and County Down.
We are a successful controlled, co-educational secondary school catering for pupils in the 11 - 16 age group.
The school is an integral part of the local community and held in high regard. There are excellent links with other schools in the area and with local businesses. The school has a tradition of close family ties which are reflected in strong pupil and parent involvement in all areas. Parents are actively encouraged to work in partnership with the school and there are opportunities to participate in leadership as Parent Governors.
The Past Pupils and Parent Teacher Association is a platform for the informal exchange of information and views and additionally through the enthusiasm of its members it raises considerable sums to supplement the school’s budget.
An ‘open door’ policy whereby parents and pupils have easy and comfortable access to staff is one of our strengths and contributes significantly to the family ethos. In addition to interviews there are parents’ meetings for all year groups and information evenings. The school also sends out a termly Newsletter.
Pupils in year 12 are personally mentored to guide their preparation for examinations. This together with other strategies has produced consistently good results.
A feature of which we are particularly proud is our induction procedure for Year 8 pupils which aims to make the transition from primary school to secondary school an exciting positive experience. It is an opportunity for the children to quickly forge new friendships. The school accepts pupils from a large number of Primary Schools covering an extensive geographical area. It is important that our diverse intake quickly feel a part of the school and comfortable in their new surroundings.
The school has continued to grow in popularity as parents have realised the benefits of a small school in a largely rural community. This is reflected in the numbers attending.
The size of the school allows for small classes and therefore close attention can be given to all pupils. Those with Special Educational Needs are particularly well catered for by the highly qualified staff under the leadership of a widely experienced Special Needs Co-ordinator. Pupils with Statements of Educational Need have Individual Education Plans and are monitored closely.
This year The High School is working for the level 2 Rights Respecting School Award organised by UNICEF. We are one of only 2 secondary schools within the South Eastern Education and Library Board who are working for this award.
What is the Rights Respecting School Award?
One of the greatest challenges that schools face is to define a clear set of values - not just rules - that has been developed with the full school community and is actively upheld by all. UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA) helps schools to use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as the values framework that enables this to be achieved.
The UNCRC enhances pupils' understanding of the consequences of individual and group actions on the rights of others locally and globally. The articles of the Convention are based on the recognition of every child's basic needs in order to thrive. The UNCRC therefore sets out a child's rights to:
- Survive and have good health
- Be protected from harm
- Develop their talents and skills
- Participate in the world to which they belong.
In order to achieve the award the school must meet the required standards across four aspects of school life. These are:
- Leadership and management which promotes the values of the UNCRC in the life of the school
- Knowledge of the UNCRC including an understanding that with rights comes responsibilities
- Rights-respecting climate and culture in the classroom
- Active pupil participation in decision making.
When the school feels it has met the required standards a UNICEF UK Education Officer will conduct an assessment. This is usually after a period of 18 months. If the necessary standards are confirmed the school will be presented with a certificate.
How does the RRSA make a difference?
Children and young people can raise their achievement at school and improve the quality of their lives, if they learn exactly what their rights and responsibilities are according to the UNCRC and use this understanding as a guide to living.
Children and young people will know how to go about making informed decisions and become confident, active citizens if this "rights and responsibilities" guide to living is introduced at an early age and reinforced through school life.
Evidence gathered from schools that have already completed the award suggests that there has been a positive impact on school ethos, pupils' self-esteem, behaviour and their development as global citizens.
Further information can be obtained from http://www.unicef.org.uk/rrsa