Cork secondary school celebrates Unicef honour

To qualify for Unicef gold status, the school had to demonstrate that it has fully embraced the rights of children.
Cork secondary school celebrates Unicef honour

Students and staff at St Vincent's Secondary School celebrating their achievement of gold status as Ireland's first and only post primary rights respecting school.

A NORTHSIDE Cork school is celebrating a unique achievement in Irish education.

St Vincent’s Secondary School has been granted gold status by Unicef, making the school Ireland’s first and only post-primary rights-respecting school, embedded in the school’s running the United Nations convention on the rights of the child.

St Vincent’s deputy principal, Rosemarie Ferriter, told The Echo the school was very proud of its achievement, which had come about as the culmination of three years of work.

“You go through a process where you introduce the rights of the child to the school, and you have the students’ involvement all the way through, all the stakeholders, parents, board of management, students, teachers,” Ms Ferriter said. “The idea is that you recognise those rights, and you try and adapt the school’s running, so wherever the kids take responsibility, they can have a voice in the school’s running.”

The school has an active students’ council and a committee that runs events focusing on inclusion, raising awareness of minority groups and of LGBTQ+ matters.

“Everyone in the school is seen and has a voice, and it’s a place of respect and in a way self-governance for the kids, because they can take charge of issues,” Ms Ferriter added.

To qualify for Unicef gold status, St Vincent’s had to demonstrate that the school has fully embraced the rights of children.

“You have to be able to prove that that ethos has permeated the whole school, and everyone is aware that they have a voice and they know what to do with it,” said Ms Ferriter.

“We have had loads of guest speakers, we’ve had some excellent speakers from UCC, and the Law Department specialises on the rights of the child, under Professor Ursula Kilkelly, and we’ve had speakers in from Black Lives Matter, we’ve had lots of different speakers over the three years.”

She added that the school was extremely grateful to the students and staff who had contributed so much toward St Vincent’s achieving gold status, and she praised the steering committee for its “exceptional” work.

“This has been brilliant for the school, and it has really helped us with issues around inclusion, because everyone feels more listened to, and they respect each other’s differences, which is really what it’s all about,” Ms Ferriter said.

“This is an initiative we would strongly recommend to other schools.”

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