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The rights of the child and what this means for teachers

Roseanna Bourke and John O’Neill

Aotearoa New Zealand ratified the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1993, which means its principles and rights are obligatory, not optional. So, UNCRC has important implications for teachers, leaders, and boards of trustees in schools. UNCRC has 54 articles. A good starting point for teachers is the articles that directly impact on their work with their students. These include Articles 12, 13, 28, 29, and 30. The children’s rights framework of “space, voice, audience and influence” developed by Professor Laura Lundy is universally recognised as a useful tool for teachers to use when considering how to practically apply UNCRC Article 12, which states that all children have the right to have their say and express their views on matters of interest to them. This includes their classroom relations with teachers, the curriculum, school policies, and rules. Engaging students in meaningful decision making encourages more democratic and autonomy supportive forms of teaching and learning.

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