Registered Users

Submit a Story

Human Rights in Education is an open collaborative Initiative. It depends on the contributions of educators prepared to share their ideas, resources and experiences.

Contribute stories or resources

News & Articles

Positive Behaviour (Nov 2009)

Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 November 1999 12:00)

Behaviour problems associated with school students have continued to hit the news in recent months.

The Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, told NZEI and PPTA conferences at the end of September that $45 million was being allocated to roll-out of the Positive Behaviour for Learning Action Plan. More work is being done on the draft before releasing, but it seems that the centrepiece of the plan is to be the Australian adaptation of the evidence-based School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) approach developed in the US. One of the significant elements of SWPBS is the development of a consistent school culture as part of the strategy to reinforce positive behaviour:



HRiE partners believe, on the basis of experience in Hampshire and more recently in New Zealand, that developing a strong school culture based explicitly on (cross-culturally negotiated and internationally-agreed) human rights could add significant value to such ‘positive behaviour for learning' approaches by grounding them in a normative framework that is respectful of the dignity and rights of all involved, is empowering, and is linked to key elements of New Zealand educational policy guidelines, including the New Zealand Curriculum.

Another key plank said to be in the Positive Behaviour for Learning Action Plan is further development of restorative practices in schools. Jenny Fraser (DP Freeville School) and Ced Simpson recently ran a workshop exploring how restorative practices can be a powerful component of human rights-based education, and how explicit reference to ‘human rights and responsibilities' can add value to restorative practices. They are planning more work on this theme with Margaret Thorsborne during 2010.

* Please contact Ced Simpson if your school is thinking about or implementing either positive behaviour support or restorative practices and may be interested in discussing these as a contribution to the Human Rights in Education Initiative.


Piloting whole-school implementation of human rights-based education (Nov 2009)

Last Updated (Saturday, 10 May 2014 11:11)

2009 has been the first year in which some New Zealand schools have been applying the ‘human rights and responsibilities' lens across the school as part of the HRiE Initiative. Although the stories are still coming in, a few lessons (unsurprisingly, echoing experience in Hampshire) appear to have been learned.

The power of human rights-based education, with its potential impact on student participation, engagement and achievement and positive impact on teacher satisfaction, is in a whole-school approach.


As the best-evidence syntheses suggest, effective human rights learning and development of a strong human rights culture comes from:

  • Coherent strategic planning based on clear goals and expectations (clear leadership buy-in; implementation team that includes those with management responsibilities for curriculum and behaviour support)
  • Inclusive professional development involving sharing of implementation experience (whole-staff workshop followed by regular revisiting as part of ‘normal business')
  • Multiple opportunities to learn and apply information (applying the human rights framework and rights&responsibilities lens in all situations of school life)
  • Use of smart tools (posters, signs, other prompts, inclusion in existing checklists...)

Social Studies Toolkit for Human Rights Learning (Nov 2009)

Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 November 1999 12:00)


This CD-ROM was launched at SocCon 2007. Packed with Powerpoint presentations for use in professional development, curriculum planning and the classroom, it is available free to schools formally participating in the Human Rights Initiative and at $20 for others. Order by emailing. Its general content would be helpful to anyone interested in Human Rights in Education.




Time to start planning for the new year (Nov 2009)

Last Updated (Thursday, 25 March 2010 10:39)

Negotiated Rights and Responsibilities Agreements (or ‘contracts' or ‘treaties') are a proven ‘behaviour management tool' used in many New Zealand classrooms and schools. When explicitly linked to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (recommended for primary) or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (secondary) as part of a structured learning process, they have a much greater impact. As one child said in Hampshire, ‘Our classroom charter is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is better than rules because they are for all the time.' It can not only establish the basis for harmonious classrooms and schools, the process can also act as a powerful lesson in how human rights declarations and treaties are negotiated and maintained (linking for example to a range of Social Studies achievement objectives).


Learning about specific ‘human rights' at the beginning of the school year can help set the scene for other learning:

Eg Everyone has the rights to rest and play, and the highest attainable standard of health (physical  education)

  • Everyone has the right to enjoy the arts
  • Everyone has the right to share in share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  • Everyone has duties to the community.

Class collaboration on the production of school posters in the context of English, Art, and Social Studies lessons can be a great way to encourage interaction in new classes and result in tools that reinforce the human rights and responsibilities message throughout the school.


Global citizenship – challenges for educators (Oct 2009)

Last Updated (Thursday, 25 March 2010 10:36)

For a recent review of the challenges faced by educators addressing global citizenship, and the relevance of human rights, see Nelly P. Stromquist (2009) Theorizing Global Citizenship: Discourses, Challenges, and Implications for Education

Learning better together - the case for inclusive education (Oct 2009)

In a 3 June event at Parliament House IHC launched a report by education researcher Dr Jude MacArthur that makes a powerful case for including students with disabilities in regular classrooms.

Striving for coherence in implementing the New Zealand Curriculum (Oct 2009)

"Developing a shared, school-wide understanding of the key competencies, aligning these to their school vision and values, and integrating them into the planning of teaching and learning programmes were important priorities for most schools" according to the NZC implementation report issued by the Education Review Office in August.

Amongst the self-review indicators proposed by ERO to assist school leaders in implementation planning are:

  • choosing achievement objectives from each learning area to fit the learning needs of their students
  • considering links between learning areas, including "considering the links that exist between learning areas and the values and key competencies"
  • integrating key competencies into learning and teaching
  • considering how the curriculum principles will be explored and included
  • aligning The New Zealand Curriculum with school-wide systems.

Schools already part of the Human Rights in Education initiative are using the human rights framework as a key tool in this process. Recognising that values - including "respect for self, other and human rights" - are supposed to be "encouraged, modelled and explored" and "evident in the school's philosophy, structures, curriculum, classrooms and relationships" (NZC p10), they see a strong human rights strand as offering the potential to bring a much needed coherence to overall school programme.

School leaders may find the attached one page summary of the Curriculum useful. (Please note that this is a significant revision of earlier draft versions of this summary, some of which failed to list "Integrity" or "Ecological sustainability" as values)

The Facilitation Team is keen to hear more experiences of developing human rights-based school curricula so we can all learn from each others' thoughts and experiences during this critical implementation phase.

Page 8 of 13