September is an exciting month in my office as we sign up primary schools to our Super Ambassadors’ scheme.
Many are re-registering as they do every year, while others will be brand new to the scheme.
My Super Ambassadors play an important part in making sure I hear from children all over Wales and also ensure that children are learning about their human rights in school.
The scheme works like this. After the school has signed up, they receive a resource pack from my office with rights posters for the school and information for the teachers. The pack also contains badges, booklets and stationery for their Super Ambassadors.
The next step is for pupils to elect two of their peers to be Super Ambassadors for their school.
Every school does this differently. I have heard about full elections with manifestos, speeches and votes involving all pupils, all staff and all parents, or a more simple process of selecting two from within the school council.
All schools joining the scheme are also invited to attend one of our regional training days in October, where they and one teacher from the school learn about children’s rights and about my role as their independent champion.
These are the ambassadors’ jobs during the year:
- Make sure children in their school know that they have rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
- Tell everyone in the school that they have a children’s commissioner whose job is to listen and speak up for every child in Wales
- Tell me about what is important for children in their school and community. They do this at the training days, and through our special missions.
Our Special Missions run each term and recent missions have included:
- Getting children in the school to answer my Beth Nesa’ | What Next consultation, which helped shape my work for the next three years – ‘A plan for all children and young people 2016 – 2019’
- Finding out how children travel to their school and how easy it is to bike, scoot or walk there.
- Trying out a new way to teach others about rights: posters, display boards, leading assemblies etc.
My Super Ambassadors often write to me to tell me about what they have been doing in their school and I try to share as many good ideas as I can with others.
I love the creative ways that children think about rights in their schools, such as having a rights mascot, making videos, and holding events for parents to learn about rights.
Some schools organise much of what they do around the UNCRC, such as the school I mention in this post.
Over 200 schools are actively involved in the scheme each year, meaning that thousands of school children in Wales are learning about the UNCRC from their Super Ambassadors.
I am encouraged that Archbishop Barry Morgan, from the Church in Wales, has written to all church schools this term encouraging them to take part in the scheme.
For our next special mission we will be asking our Super Ambassadors to help us understand more about their experiences of bullying and its effect of this on their wellbeing.
We’ll also be finding out about their ideas about the best ways to tackle and prevent bullying in their schools and communities.
If you have been elected as a Super Ambassador this year, congratulations! I look forward to working with you!