Human Rights should be put on the curriculum

A TES survey has shown that nine out of 10 teachers want human rights education to be put on the national curriculum for students before they start their GCSEs.

The poll of more than 670 teachers, conducted jointly with Amnesty International UK, finds that 47 per cent think the children at their school do not understand the concept of human rights. Similarly, 46 per cent believe pupils have no awareness of their own human rights.

The findings come as schools prepare to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the landmark document that laid the foundations for democracy and civil liberties in England.

Alice Edwards, education officer at Amnesty International UK, said: “I think there are a lot of children who don’t understand what they’re entitled to and that human rights belong to everybody.”

The issue should be taught across the curriculum, she added. Maths teachers could look at how wealth was divided across the world, while students could write campaigning letters in literacy lessons, she explained.

“Make it clear that human rights isn’t a stand-alone issue,” Ms Edwards said. “It actually penetrates everything. It belongs to me, it belongs to you, it belongs to everybody.”

Craig McVicar, head of Year 9 at Quintin Kynaston in West London, has run dedicated, off-curriculum days focusing on human rights. “A lot of our students come from all over the world,” he said. “They’re refugees from war-torn countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kosovo. That makes it quite real for them. I guess it makes [pupils] feel quite fortunate when they hear what people experience in other places in the world.”

To coincide with the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, TES has created a collection of classroom resources, including some made by Amnesty International.

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