These children are British.

In the wake of the some truly terrible news over the last few weeks, I went to work with a very talented and committed teacher in an east London primary school – feeling more than a little depressed about the state of the world we were bringing children up in.

The teacher, Rohima Begum, had asked me into her Year 6 class to do some activities that would promote an understanding of British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs.

We started the day looking at rights and responsibilities.

Firstchildren’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and then their responsibilities’ to spread those rights to other children around the UK and the world.

By the end of the day, I not only came away from the school with a huge smile on my face but I felt genuinely inspired and moved by what these children said, wrote, painted and what they pledged and intended to do with their lives.

It made me feel very proud that these children – whether they were born here in the UK or came as refugees or migrants – are British.

And if you need any more inspiration about the courage of children, read Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography ‘I am Malala’ or Nujeen Mustafa’s ‘The Girl from Aleppo’.


Article 30            

You have the right to practice your own culture, language and religion – or any you choose.


I sit on the floor, crossed legs, hands together.

My friends tell me it is nonsense!

I say: “It’s called my religion.”


The next day I walk to school.

My friends just say I’m pure nonsense!

I say: “It’s my culture to wear this.”


The bell rings loud. Pupils march forward proud,

My teacher tells me I am talking nonsense.

I say: “It’s my language.”


After school I walk home,

Only to find a boy

Calling out: “Stranger! Weird! You don’t belong!”


It is my responsibility to help people have the right to choose their own religion. I will try to achieve this by speaking up – on the radio and everywhere – and try to start a campaign to help children afford an education that will teach them to stand up for their rights.



You have the right to practice your own… CULTURE!

You have the right to practice your own… LANGUAGE!

You have the right to practice your own… RELIGION!

We are all DIFFERENT in our own UNIQUE way.

Some of us are black, white, mixed race,

But we shouldn’t be treated differently!

We should be treated EQUALLY

I am different and accept that

And we all should RESPECT that!


I will learn to speak English, French, Arabic and Spanish and I will speak up about rights to all children around the world and raise awareness and start a campaign and tell all the media.



Article 24            

You have the right to the health care, safe water to drink, nutritious food to eat and a clean and safe environment to help you stay well.


I should have the right to have medication for my needs,

Freedom of speech to voice my opinion and not be attacked for it,

Have nutritious meals to keep me healthy.

I should have the right not to be alienated from other people,

For the colour of my skin does not define me as a person.

I have the right to be me!

I should not be me and face discrimination for it.


I want to sign a petition and start a charity to send school supplies to countries in need. I will be an advocate for young women around the world.



Article 7            

You have the right to a name and you have the right to belong to a country.


Everybody tries to put me in a box,

Tell me to be different,

To be something that I’m not.

I have a right to be alive,

To have a name

And a family.

I’m not going to break any rules,

But I’m going to make my point.

Do you know why?

Because I’m original.


I’m certified unique,

100% a masterpiece,

I believe I’m right!

I’m original!

Original! Original! Original!


I believe everyone should have their rights and a voice to be heard. I will pledge to start campaigns, sign petitions and create websites so children know and have their rights.



Article 38            

You have the right to protection and freedom from war.


In my perspective, I believe every child in the world deserves a right to peace. Nevertheless, unfortunately some children across the globe do not have the things that we have at the moment. Some children in Great Britain take this for granted.

We have rights to have a voice, we have opinions and nobody can take that away from us. We have freedom and are protected to be who we want to be.

But Syrian children and all over Asia and Africa have been deprived and separated from their parents.

This is us! We are children!


I pledge to ensure that we assist and supply deprived children across the globe. I will try and set up a campaign or a charity to help children around the world. I will speak to our local mayor or councillor for our voices to be heard.


Article 12            

You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously.


Every child has the right to an opinion and for their parents to listen to them, such as – if your parents go to vote in the EU Referendum you can try to persuade them to leave or remain. My mum and dad wanted to remain but I tried to preside them to leave so that we could spend more money on hospitals to take care of others such as health and injections and medicines.


My responsibility is to look after others, especially other children.


Article 7            

You have the right to a name and you have the right to belong to a country.


You have a right to a name, no matter your colour.

I have the right to a name, no matter my colour.

Because I am a child and so are you!

You have the right to live in a country with your own language.

I have the right to live in my country with my own language.

Because I am a child and so are you!


I will take responsibility for what I do. I will start a charity and teach others why we should have these rights and responsibilities, because we all need these. I am going to spread this around the world and start at the Royal Docks.



You have a name

It is your right

To belong to a country

To have a life.

You might be original,

You might be unique,

But that’s what makes you, YOU!

Have an identity,

Let everyone know you’re in our world,

That you are a child and

Nobody has the right to tell you who you are.


I will take responsibility to be a fundraiser to help people notice what happens around the world so we realise what happens. We are fortunate but not everyone is the same.



Article 14            

You have the right to choose your own religion and beliefs.


Once upon a time there was a little boy who was a Muslim. One morning he went to school and children started bullying him. One took his pocket money. His mum and dad were angry so they went to school to talk to the teachers. After that the other children became his friend and played with him.




Article 42            

You have the right to know your rights and you have a responsibility to tell other children about these rights too.


Every child, every heart is unique!

Every child should have their own rights.

Some of us are white. Some of us are black.

It doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Muslim or Hindu,

Nobody can tell you what you are,

You are what you are!

You are a Somebody,

Not a Nobody!


I’m going to help the deprived people of the world by giving them starter packs. Each school in Newham should be linked to deprived schools and give them starter packs with school supplies as well as health supplies.



Article 38            

You have the right to protection and freedom from war.



“You have to start fighting in the war!”

That was all I heard when I woke,

Straight away I knew what was going on,

War was about to begin.

I knew that my mother and father had died while trying to save me,

I survived by crawling into a building,

And now I’ve been here for years.


I believe that we should all put our stories together to make a book and send it to a publisher and spread it around the globe.



Article 6            

You have the right to be alive.


I am a child, I have aright to be alive,

To have a name, To explore the world

And to be who I am.

I am a child, I have a name,

I am Jodie.

I have a right, And so do you.

Don’t worry what everyone else thinks.

Just be yourself, Like I am.

It’s OK to be original.


I believe that all children around the world should get a good education. This is what I am going to do – raise and give money so they can get the things they need.



Article 14            

You have the right to choose your own religion and beliefs.


One day a Muslim boy called Raj was getting bullied at school. The bullies said: “Why are you a Muslim? You and your fake God!” They gave him a black eye and took all his money and ran away. When he got home he told his mum and dad.


I pledge to write to the Prime Minister and use media so that all people have a right to practice their own religion.



Article 23            

You have the right to special education and care if you have a disability, so that you can live a full life.


A full life? You can have a full life,

If you have the right education.

You might have a special need or a disability.

 You need to have freedom of speech and full care to live a full life.

We are different!

You need to speak up!

You’re unique!


I’m going to make a charity for people in poorer countries and spread the word on radio and social media.



Article 38            

You have the right to protection and freedom from war.


Why do I get forced to fight?  Do I not have rights?

I am no different to other people but still do things I don’t feel comfortable doing.

If I do not have rights, why do I have a beating heart?


My heart is nobody else’s.  My soul is my soul.  My rights are my rights.

 Wars are so dangerous but we don’t have to do it,  Getting forced by someone is not right.

Speak out loud about your rights!


My huge attempt will be to visit people in poor countries that should not be poor and create a fun day to remind them that they have rights too so they can feel needed, welcome and become proud of themselves.



Article 19            

You have the right to be protected from being hurt, in body or mind.


One day I was walking to the shops to buy something to play with at home and some big boys came and took my money and beat me up. I ran home and cried to my mum.


In my opinion we should have a right to food and clean water and get protection from people who might beat us up.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching professionalism and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk and book him for a talk. His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.



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