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Students take the lead at Motueka High School

Students led human rights initiatives at Motueka High School, with the support of senior staff, since they volunteered for a workshop before the beginning of term 1 2009. A revised code of conduct and discipline policy were their major priorities.

Some eighty students volunteered for the initial 1½ day workshop in January 2009, which followed a whole staff workshop in December 2008.

Senior students developed and led workshops with vertical form classes on human rights and the development of input for a school rights and responsibilities agreement. All students were invited to sign the Code that was subsequently negotiated and agreed with the principal. A copy of the Code was framed and hung in the same position in every class room to allow students and teachers to refer to it readily; the framing was to make these posters more prestigous than other procedural posters.

The most enouraging thing during 2009 was the energy and enthusiasm of the seniors trained at the beginning of the year. They worked with me and other staff to prepare for a staff presentation focusing on encouraging staff to use human rights language in all their dealings with students and parents. A group of students created a Human Rights corner in the library to become an ongoing focus for stories, posters and a box to allow students to discuss anonymously any concerns about breaches of human rights. -- Rex Smith, Principal


Disciplinary paper work is being altered to incorporate human rights and responsibilities and students have driven most of these suggestions. They have also suggested changes to detention systems to incorporate support for students so that they can draft a letter of apology to the person whose human rights they have affected. The support would be provided by Student Contacts (our version of peer support leaders) who would be rostered for this purpose.

The Head of Maths and a Drama teacher are working with students on a project to make a DVD highighting breaches of human rights within a school context. Vertical form classes will be invited to contribute a skit towards the DVD at the beginning of the year when the Charter or Code of Behaviour will be revisited. This could be shown to students while on referral or if withdrawn from classes.

We are also working to incorporate human rights and restorative justice into our school principles and values.

So lots to do but plenty of enthusiasm from staff and students.

Marieann Keenan

Deputy Principal

Last Updated (Friday, 25 September 2015 16:48)