Happiness is...

7th April 2006 at 01:00
I read with interest "It must pay to keep us happy" (TES, March 17), in which Libby Purves revealed how attending to the happiness of teachers can be directly linked to improved pupil behaviour.

This has been clearly demonstrated in a recent initiative led by Unicef UK and Hampshire county council: the Rights, Respect and Responsibilities (RRR) initiative.

This puts the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the centre of a school's teaching ethos and philosophy. Evidence has shown it has empowered teachers and boosted morale and has led to improved pupil behaviour, attendance and performance. Teachers involved are much happier and some schools simultaneously have seen detentions reduced by up to half, exclusions by up to 70 per cent, with reduced bullying.

As Ms Purves astutely notes, most children are prone to copy adult behaviour. The RRR initiative addresses this issue because it gives teachers and pupils a clear way of relating to each other and settling problems by relying less on personal feelings and more on the discourse of children's rights. It has shown children become more ready to accept responsibility for their errors.

Heather Jarvis Head of education Unicef UK

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