Pupils call for climate action from Boris Johnson

Environmentally aware pupils at a Sutton Coldfield school are speaking up for young people everywhere, after writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the impact of climate change on children’s rights across the globe.

Hillwest pupils have written letters to Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Hillwest pupils have written letters to Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Children and staff in year 5 of Hill West Primary School are so passionate about the issue that they have put pen to paper to request that the government upholds its commitment to the United National Convention on the Rights of the Child and takes positive action to support children’s rights, internationally.

The letters are part of ‘OutRight’ UNICEF UK’s annual youth campaign that empowers children and young people to promote and protect children’s rights around the world. Hill West Primary School is one of 5,000 UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools (RRS) across the UK that embed children’s rights in their ethos and culture.

Deputy headteacher Rhian Warrack said: “Pupils at Hill West are aware of their rights, but we are also developing the children’s awareness of wider issues including the rights of children on a global basis, a greater understanding of the social and emotional aspects of learning and the importance of community cohesion and sustainable development.

“Our pupils feel strongly that these are, ‘Our Rights, Our Responsibility’ and want to make their voices heard, so they have written to the Prime Minister as a call to action. They very much hope that the Government will respond to their request to uphold the rights of children, and Hill West will continue to support our children to make their voices heard.”

Hill West Primary School, which is part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership family, has been engaged in the Rights Respecting School journey for several years. The school received a Silver Award in 2019 and has continued to work towards achieving the Gold Award, throughout two national lockdowns.

The school enrolled in UNICEF’s 2019-2020 ‘Outright’ campaign, and Hill West’s Rights Respecting Steering Group – which is made up of dedicated pupils - delivered an assembly on World Children’s Day last November to explain the campaign and to enlist children in the campaign to uphold the rights of children around the world, especially those children whose rights were being impinged by climate change.

“The RRS Steering Group’s impact was so far-reaching that even during the first national lockdown some pupils took action to create a cookery book for children, to raise £450 to support other children. Unfortunately, our work was hindered by the closure of school, but never satisfied with half a job, Hill West enrolled on the 2020-2021 Outright Campaign as well, as they were keen to promote the rights of all children globally,” said Dr Warrack.

Since returning to school after the first lockdown, the Rights Respecting Steering Group have refocussed their efforts, recording an assembly to share virtually across school, to explain the 2020-2021 Outright campaign, which focuses on how climate change can have a detrimental impact on children’s rights.

Dr Warrack explained: “The children described which rights children may not be able to access. For example, if children are living in a country where there is drought, this will cause a lack of access to water (Article 24) and a subsequent impact on children’s health so that they may not be able to go to school, impacting on their Right to an Education (Article 28), but also applies to children who are impacted by flooding and have to leave their homes (Article 27) – our pupils were shocked to think that this can happen to children in our own country, as well as to children living overseas.

“I am so impressed by the quality of letters and how passionate the children are about actioning change. They are real ambassadors for children’s rights, and I hope they receive a response from Number 10 because this is a campaign very close to all our hearts.”

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