Children’s Rights To Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities. UNCRC Review Countdown Series – 2 days to go

As we approach the UK’s review by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 18-19th May, Together is publishing a series of daily blogs to examine issues we want to see raised. Today we’re looking at children’s rights to education and play.

In 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child made a range of recommendations relating to education and play. The UN Committee called for action to address inequalities in education related to poverty or disability; ensure inclusive education for all children; ensure exclusions are only used as a last resort; abolish the use of isolation rooms; make children’s rights education mandatory; and strengthen efforts to guarantee children and babies’ right to rest, leisure, play and recreation.

What have children and young people said?

In their report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, members of Children’s Parliament (MCPs) and the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) focused on issues around dignity in schools and education reform.

Dignity in schools

MCPs and MSYPs spoke about the importance of positive relationships with teachers and other adults in school and that this was crucial to making sure children and young people are happy, healthy and safe to learn and grow. In particular, this includes shout-free schools, children and young people being involved in teacher education and training and children having a say in decisions about their learning. MCPs and MSYPs asked the UN Committee to make a recommendation to Scottish Government that it should make sure teachers act in ways that uphold children and young people’s human dignity.

“Try and understand what is going on in our life and in our heads instead of automatically giving out detention or worse, abuse.” (MCP)

Education reform

The children and young people’s report also explored the current programme of education reform. They said that they wanted the new education system to be stronger, more inclusive and fairer for all learners than it was before. Importantly, they said Article 29 of the UNCRC should be at the hart of reforming Scotland’s education system – so that the new system develop’s children and young people’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. The new system should not just be about being good at tests and exams, but developing children’s wider skills, abilities and personalities.

“It doesn’t help your talent. It only helps with literacy and numeracy.” (Education Reform consultation)

What have our members said?

Together’s 2023 State of Children’s Rights Report highlighted key concerns raised by our members, including the impact of poverty on children’s attainment; the early school starting age; a focus on literacy and numeracy that is at odds with early childhood development and children and babies’ right to play; barriers experienced by children with learning and intellectual disabilities in accessing their right to inclusive education; continued use of part-time timetables as a form of exclusion and gaps in recording; bullying; and barriers to accessing children’s right to play, arts, leisure and cultural activities.

As we approach the UK’s examination later this week, some of our members have been sharing their thoughts and hopes for the review:

“Scotland’s extraordinarily early school starting age isn’t in the best interests of young children. To help them their full potential, education should focus on overall development (physical, emotional, social, and cognitive) until at least age six. Play-based learning is the best way to promote lifelong well-being and educational success.” – Sue Palmer, Upstart Scotland

“There are still many barriers for babies and very young children to access and participate in play, arts, and cultural life.  The importance of play in early childhood is well understood, as is the importance of engaging in arts and cultural experiences which facilitate self-expression, foster learning and enable children, particularly very young children to understand the world around them.  We want to ensure that all of Scotland’s youngest children are able to access rich play and arts experiences as part of their childhood.” – Rhona Matheson, Starcatchers

A rights-based approach to planning for more child-friendly communities with inclusive and accessible play opportunities needs to be fully implemented across Scotland. All our children and young people have a right to enjoy a wide range of play experiences- not 80 per cent or ninety five percent, but 100 per cent!’” – Marguerite Hunter Blair, Play Scotland

We hope to see the UN Committee pick up on these issues during Thursday and Friday’s review – particularly those issues raised by children and young people. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to keep up-to-date with the review.

Stay tuned for our next article on special protection measures coming out at 08:00am tomorrow!

Child-Friendly Version

Click here to view Child-Friendly Version

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s