Your Rights at School

Schools already do a lot to put the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into action.

Article 28 is all about your right to an education, and Article 29 says your education should aim to: 

  • Develop your personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to the fullest potential 
  • Teach you to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms 
  • Show you the value of your own and other people’s culture, language, values and identities 
  • Prepare you for life in a free and equal society 
  • Help you to respect the natural environment 

Your school should also help to uphold your right to: 

  • seek information and hear about different ideas (Articles 13 & 17) 
  • express yourself in creative arts (Article 13) 
  • practice your own religion (Article 14) 
  • keep some things private (Article 16) 
  • a fulfilling education if you have a disability (Article 23) 
  • play and recreation (Article 31) 
  • learn about staying healthy and safe (Articles 24, 32, & 33) 

Read all of the UNCRC Articles on the Children & Young People’s Commissioner Scotland website.

What if your rights aren’t being respected at school or college? 

If you feel like your school is not respecting your rights, then you can speak up about this. You can approach a teacher you trust, or the headteacher, to discuss what has happened. You might want to speak to a parent or carer to get their support and talk things over with them first, or maybe have them come along to a meeting at the school. 

It can be difficult to have these conversations, so you could try writing down what you want to say first. This means you can feel confident about what you want to say, and make sure you cover all the points you want to make. 

There should be written guidelines and rules about how the school is run (usually called policies or procedures) to help clarify what the school should be doing so you can also ask to see these. 

If you are worried about being excluded from school, want more information about what happens next, or want to challenge your exclusion, the Child Clanlaw website can help. 

Citizens Advice Scotland has advice for a range of problems that could come up at school and can help you identify if you have been discriminated against at school. 

If you are being bullied at school, have a look at Childline for more help. 

Ultimately, your Local Authority is responsible for comprehensive schools in the area, and if the school does not resolve your complaint then you can speak to them. Look at your Local Authority website for more information on this. If you attend a private school, you can complain to the school’s governing body. 

Colleges are a bit different to schools, so the first step is to complain to the college itself. There should be guidelines on the website.  

Your students’ association can also help with advice on how to resolve issues. If this does not resolve the issue, you can complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

If you want to talk to someone confidentially about what’s happening, there are different organisations that can help. Take a look at our list of organisations who you can speak to on the phone, over digital chat or by text. 

Visit the Activate Your Rights homepage to find out more about your rights.

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