A Wolverhampton school has become the first in the city to scoop a silver respect award from UNICEF – and now has its sights set on gold.

Uplands Junior School achieved the silver level of the charity’s Rights Respecting Schools Award after putting children’s rights at the heart of everything it does. 

The Award recognises a school’s achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into practice within the school and beyond, giving its pupils the best chance to lead happy, healthy lives and to be responsible, active citizens.

Headteacher Suzanne Webster-Smith said: "Over the last couple of years, pupils and the whole school community have been learning about children’s rights, while putting them into practice every day. 

"The award has also helped pupils to understand and speak out about some of the big issues facing the world today, such as the refugee crisis and air pollution. 

"We have written to MPs such as Eleanor Smith who was moved by our letters and paid us a visit. She told us about her experiences visiting the Rohingya people who had fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh. She has also recently arranged for us to have a visit from John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, which we are really looking forward to. 

“We’ve even had a visit from soul singer Beverley Knight, who called in to take an assembly with the children and talk about where dreams and aspirations can take people.

"Taking part in the award has had a positive impact in many areas of school life at Uplands, providing a context and framework for everything we do."
Mrs Webster-Smith said that the Finchfield Road West school would be working towards the award's gold standard next year. This will involve embedding children’s rights into lessons and learning every day, and extending the school’s work into the local community.

Meanwhile, Uplands is also celebrating being named an "Outstandingly Happy and Positive School" by The Art of Brilliance, which delivers positivity programmes to schools and other organisations around the country.

Year 5 pupils took part in workshops showing the importance of feeling happy and positive and how making changes can lead to a huge difference in everyday lives. Using what they had learnt, the year group were tasked with spreading positivity and happiness throughout the school community and beyond. 

Mrs Webster-Smith said: "Our pupils see themselves and others as valued individuals, respecting each other's differences and enjoying their rights. We are seeking to become a happy and positive learning environment, proud to be who we are and demonstrating respect for all, which is our school motto - and both these awards support this."

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "It's great to see our schools going above and beyond in their desire to create wonderful learning environments for their children.

"I would like to commend Uplands Junior School on their excellent work in receiving bot the Rights Respecting Schools Award from UNICEF, and for being named an Outstandingly Happy and Positive School by The Art of Brilliance."

To find out more about education in Wolverhampton, please visit Education and Schools