A Students’ Bill of Rights-Part 2

13 02 2013

The previous post about establishing a Students’ Bill of Rights for their education as a foundation to identifying the purpose of the school, and from that the purpose of the school library and, subsequently, the role of the TL within that, has sparked some interest from a variety of people in a variety of positions and places.

Because author Mem Fox once said to me that you cannot edit a blank page, I have put together a draft statement that might serve as a basis for further discussions, debate and development by staff and students.

In 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children, defined as any persons under the age of 18. The FACT SHEET: A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child has formed the basis of my document, but I’ve also drawn on 40 years experience in education and my beliefs about students’ needs. Because this is designed to be merely a springboard, each school would need to develop their own statement in accordance with the beliefs, values and requirements of its learning community which includes students, staff, parents, educational authorities and other vested stakeholders.

The collaborative nature of our profession enables me to ask others to use the Comments section to share your perspective, ideas, additions, deletions, challenges and changes so together, we can learn from each other and ultimately develop something that helps us clarify our purpose and position within our schools so we know just what it is we are advocating for.

Draft Students’ Bill of Rights
Definition
A student is defined as any person attending this school for the express purpose of receiving a formal education.

Students have the right to

  • An environment which…
  • protects and preserves their identity and dignity at all times
  • is free from discrimination, harassment, victimisation and humiliation
  • is physically and emotionally safe, free from violence, danger, abuse and neglect
  • is clean and healthy environment with access to fresh air, clean water, functioning sanitary facilities, and access to open spaces to play and exercise
  • allows them to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account, commensurate with their level of maturity
  • acknowledges their parents’ right and responsibility to express their views on matters affecting their children and provide guidance for them
  • enables them to learn their responsibilities for behaving in a socially-acceptable manner that is based on respect and expectation rather than fear and punishment
  • allows them to meet together and to join groups and organisations provided they respect the rights, freedoms and reputations of others
  • respects their privacy and confidentiality in all areas of their school-based life
  • protects them from any activity that takes advantage of them or could harm their welfare and development
  • An education which…
  • reflects a belief that learning should be student-centred and that all students can succeed in relation to their potential
  • puts their best interests first so that decisions made by adults on their behalf consider how these will affect students first and foremost
  • enables them to develop the knowledge, understandings, skills and values which allow them to make sense of their world
  • enables them to develop literacy, numeracy, investigation and communication skills so they can be active participants in their world
  • acknowledges the need for the development of physical, social and emotional skills, as well as academic
  • allows them to get, interpret, use and share information, as long as the information is not damaging to them or others, and which respects the rights, freedoms and reputations of others
  • promotes freedom of thought, conscience and religion and allows them to examine and express their beliefs provided they respect the rights, freedoms and reputations of others
  • provides access to information that they can understand through books and mass media, including radio, television, newspapers and Internet content sources, in a language in which they are conversant
  • acknowledges and addresses their special needs, whether educational, behavioural, personal, cultural, emotional, financial or social
  • develops their personality, talents and abilities to the fullest, and encourages them to respect themselves, the values and rights of others, human rights, the values of their own and other cultures and protect the environment
  • provides access to fully-qualified teachers who have expertise and experience in their subject area, who design and deliver curricula tailored to their students’ needs through recognised best-practice pedagogy
  • enables them to learn about and practice their own culture, language and religion
  • encourages relaxation and play, and provides opportunities to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities
  • (If you are using this, including copying it for distribution, please acknowledge The Hub and use the URL.)

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