Do Schools respect human rights?

January 26, 2014

Maybe not, according to the young people who made a film during our human rights project. The film was made in partnership with Mouth That Roars and is available here

The idea to make a film came out of discussions during youth group sessions about how young people feel their rights are not always respected by adults. This developed into the human rights project which included workshops, a residential and a film (made in partnership with another great organisation we work with, Mouth That Roars).

The film is a fictional ‘mockumentary’ – all of the stories in the film are real life experiences, but they are fictionalised (so when someone is talking in the film they are not necessarily talking about their own school).

Many of the young people we work with – not just in this group but in all of VOY’s groups – tell us that their schools feel a bit like prisons (academies in particular). Often, academies keep young people there for extended hours as well as adding extra homework, so the young people feel they have no free time. They are often highly disciplinarian (for example, not allowing young people to hug or touch, implementing dispersal zones within the school, excluding young people when Ofsted are expected, and imposing isolation on young people for minor infringements of rules, such as laughing, or wearing the wrong uniform). Many of the schools collect everyone’s fingerprints (for cashless catering) and often have a lot of cameras, even sometimes in the toilets (each secondary school has an average of 24 CCTV cameras).

At the end of the film the young people share their ideas about what action they can take. They have some great ideas but sometimes some of them feel a bit hopeless about whether they can really change anything. They say school councils usually just focus on dinners and uniforms, and when they try to campaign they are stopped – one of their classmates made a petition against the fingerprints / cashless catering and the petition was ripped up by a teacher.