Human Rights in the Health Curriculum
Human rights are mapped across all the curricula of the school, including the PSHE (Health) curriculum. Each lesson, students focus on one particular right, such as the right to health, life or education. They learn about those who do not have their rights met across the globe as well as closer to home. In Year 7, students learn about ‘conflict,’ including the right to live free from the dangers of war and of children around the world who do not live safely. Students also learn about bullying and ways of accessing media safely. The school also uses restorative justice and resolution to deal with any behaviour issues that arise, and students are taught from Year 7 how to do this effectively. Students are also taught about how to stay mentally and physically healthy, as well as about the importance of being an active citizen. At the start of every year, students take part in an extended health session where they are reminded of the articles of the Convention and create their first charter.
In other years, students continue to learn about rights and cover a broad curriculum. Students study mental and physical health every year, the importance of rights and of getting involved in the community as an ambassador, of exploitation, conflict and discrimination. The resources are award-winning: in 2016, the school was awarded the Accord Inclusivity Award as well as the Educate and Celebrate LGBT+ Gold Best Practice status award. In particular, the school was praised for tackling controversial and sensitive issues head-on as well as their commitment to human rights, fundamental British values and Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural Development (SMSC). Last year, the school was also awarded the DfE Equalities Award and the Unicef Bronze Award and the Health resources were included as part of these evidence folders.
Human Rights in the PBE Curriculum
The Philosophy, Beliefs and Ethics (PBE) curriculum is particularly well-suited to discussion of rights. Students consider a broad range of philosophical and ethical debates from Year 7 to 11. Topics include: medical and environmental ethics; crime and punishment; relationships and the family; religions of the world; peace and conflict; and issues surrounding life and death. Each lesson has a human rights link to one of the articles, although many of the articles are discussed in any one lesson. Students learn through rights, starting with writing a charter at the beginning of the year where they note down their expectations of themselves and of the teacher. Students are not only taught to use rights-respecting language but are taught why this is important through regularly discussing examples of people who cannot access their rights as well as looking at the formation of rights over time. Students consider why rights have become embedded in the law and how the rights of different citizens are balanced. They also look at areas of contention where it might be hard to respect the rights of all involved, such as in the prison system, and are set campaign projects enabling them to actively campaign for rights at home.
Human Rights in the English Curriculum
At KS3, students engage with a range of rights through reading and discussion of a range of novels and extracts. These include exploring Victorian London through Dickens focusing on issues of inequality, the rights to education, child labour and anti-Semitism. Class novels include ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’, which focuses on difference, diversity, learning difficulties and acceptance, ‘Stone Cold’, which deals with issues of homelessness, the rights to adequate standard of living and human treatment, ‘Pigeon English’ (immigration, freedom, inequality and racism), and ‘Of Mice and Men’ (discrimination in terms of race, gender, disability). Discussions explore how characters’ access to rights is being restricted, and how such restrictions can be challenged.
At KS4, texts studied include ‘Great Expectations’ (poverty, classism and gender roles), ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (religious rights, gender, and freedom of association). Study of ‘Animal Farm’ deals with issues of totalitarianism, control, freedom and tolerance, and encourages students to explore their democratic rights through debating issues and voting for outcomes.
The KS5 course includes in-depth consideration of issues such as race and gender through reading post-colonial and feminist texts, ‘The Bluest Eye’ and ‘Top Girls’. Year 12 read modern poetry and explore inequality, grief, loss and immigration, and build on their freedom of speech and tolerance of others by exploring these themes.
Writing-focused units of work in both KS3 and KS4 support and encourage students to develop their voice and freedom of speech, both creative and persuasive. They practice these skills in both writing and speaking, working towards a confident speaking and listening assessment at GCSE where they speak on a range of personally-chosen issues that matter to them, and learn to listen and debate with respect. Collaborative and creative tasks are used in all units of work to further support these skills.
Human Rights in the History Curriculum
In our history lessons we look for opportunities where history can challenge the certainty we have in today, where history can question assumptions about who we are and why we are. In this way students are always thinking about rights and how they have developed over time. More than this, students are also able to see how our ideas about the world have not always been the same, sometimes in the past we were more equal and sometimes we were less equal. Our history curriculum aims to not only help us situate Britain in the history of the world, but also to provide a pluralism of perspective as we move beyond only patriarchal and Eurocentric stories. This is a constant work in progress, and something that can only happen with the inclusion of student voice. We therefore aim to encourage students to form a dialogue with their teacher whereby they can question histories, and can bring their own histories into the classroom. Students’ voices should be heard in the history classroom, not only in collaborative learning, presentation, discussion and oral judgements but also arguing, questioning, taking issue and challenging the history that we are teaching.
Our rigorous and diverse history at Key Stage Three, and our GCSE and A Level options provide students with the knowledge and skills to be engaged in politics and social justice. At times in lessons and homework students are encouraged to part in activism, for example year 7s creating a campaign for Ada Lovelace to be recognised in the curriculum, or year 9 posting on social media about a forgotten female voice of the Civil Rights Movement. Our lessons also help students understand what our rights are and why they are so important, as frequently we are exploring how they were ignored or not yet established. It is important in our lessons that students are able to make connections with today, to look at the past and then consider the extent to which we have changed. Students in history are expected to think for themselves, they are expected to work independently and in groups, they are stretched and challenged in their assumptions about the world. Through our history curriculum we want students to feel empowered with knowledge, experience and inspiration to become the future leaders and activists of our world.