Earlier this term the school hosted a press conference to share the children’s work with the wider community and received high praise from Elise Sijthoff, founder of International Child Press, who travelled from Amsterdam to present the young journalists with their ‘Special Editions’. The project was produced by former MEP Julie Ward, as part of Commonwealth Connections, a British Council programme for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, led by Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP).
The project began in September 2022 when Year 6 pupils from Woodthorpe Junior and Infant School worked with Julie learning about the role of journalists and editors, researching and writing about issues that they cared most about. These ranged from the importance of sport for health and well-being to concerns about the environment and online safety.
Child reporters interviewed a range of professionals from the worlds of health, education, civic and political life, thereby exercising their right to participate in democratic life. The resulting high quality online and print publications reveal the thoughtfulness of our youngest citizens demonstrating their ability to engage with complex topics and hold decision makers to account.
“This opportunity when working with Child Press was a great way to explore children’s rights, especially as we’re a Rights Respecting school. It was also a fantastic way to celebrate the legacy of Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games and be proud of the city in which we live.”Rohan (Year 6 Pupil)
“This exciting opportunity to work with Child Press offered our Year 6 children a real purpose for writing, inspiring them to express their views on many of the issues they feel passionate about and that directly affect them. We are proud to be a UNICEF Gold standard Rights Respecting School, which is strengthened through the support we receive from BEP. Child Press’ belief in children as journalists has broadened our children’s international and global citizenship. We hope to develop this new partnership producing further pupil-led publications.” – Ms L McGrath (Head Teacher, Woodthorpe JI School)
“This wonderful opportunity through BEP and Child Press was a captivating, unique and engaging start to the new school year for our Year 6 class. Pupil voice and international collaboration are two aspects that we value very highly at Woodthorpe and we are incredibly proud of what the children have managed to produce and would like to thank everyone involved in the project. We look forward to continuing to work with Child Press and BEP in the future.”Mr M Trevor (Deputy Head Teacher, Woodthorpe JI School)
“Thanks to Woodthorpe School we are able to launch the first ever UK edition of International Child Press. I am extremely proud that every child in class had the opportunity to discover and publish his or her key interest on world issues. The Child Press process ensures every child in class is supported to be heard. This is not only essential for the children but also for their parents and teachers, and for the democratic principles of our society.” – Elise Sijthoff (Founder, International Child Press)
“Birmingham 2022 provided a unique opportunity for a plethora of cultural enrichment activities especially for our youngest citizens. Commonwealth Connections was successful in opening doors for teachers, children and their families across the region, and it was a pleasure to bring International Child Press to the UK as part of the programme.”Julie Ward (Arts Lead, Commonwealth Connections)
International Child Press is a child rights organisation based in Amsterdam working internationally to give children and young people a voice through advocacy and media training as press reporters, editors and newspaper publishers (online and in print). Child Press reporters in countries such as Canada, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands have interviewed key decision-makers such as mayors, parliamentarians and even prime ministers.
Birmingham Education Partnership exists for the benefit of every publicly funded school in Birmingham. BEP is committed to no school being isolated and sees that local, city and national connectivity is a key to success for schools at every stage of their development. BEP believes it takes a whole city to raise a child. If schools do well, then children do well and if children do well our city will flourish. Birmingham Arts School is a BEP initiative which focuses on the crucial role that the arts play in enabling learners to engage in a deeper and more meaningful way with their education.
Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games aimed to make a world of difference for everyone throughout the West Midlands and beyond. This momentous event was a chance to celebrate a global community and our human potential, leaving a lasting positive impact.
Commonwealth Connections was part of Bring the Power, the youth engagement programme for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and was co-funded by the Birmingham Organising Committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the British Council. The programme was managed by BEP with Birmingham Arts School and the Youth Sport Trust providing sectoral leadership for the Arts and Sports elements.
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights. The Rights Respecting Schools Award is granted to schools that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights and encouraging adults, children and young people to respect the rights of others in school. Gold is the highest accolade given by UNICEF UK and shows a deep and thorough commitment to children’s rights at all levels of school life. There are over 600 schools across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales that have received gold.
Woodthorpe Junior and Infant School is a UNICEF Rights Respecting School, awarded gold standard in January 2023. The school provides pupils with the knowledge, understanding, attitudes, values and skills they need in order to reach their potential as individuals and within the community. Pupils learn to understand and respect our common humanity, diversity and differences so that they can go on to form the effective, fulfilling relationships that are an essential part of life and learning.
Woodthorpe children also learn to appreciate what it means to be a positive member of a diverse and multi-cultural society. The school is involved in an ongoing global partnership with Motherwell School in Uganda through the British Council which offers opportunities to celebrate diversity, embed ‘British Values’ and strengthen school values. Woodthorpe J&I School was twinned with schools in Trinidad and Tobago as part of Commonwealth Connections.
The school currently holds an International Schools Award through the British Council, as well as Global School Alliance recognition, at bronze level, for its on-going commitment towards international collaboration.