Human Rights Young Researchers Project 2014

In many ways, the concept of ‘Human Rights’ is self-explanatory, and we all believe we have basic rights and entitlements. But is such an interesting and important topic for that very reason: what if our human rights were taken away? What if we weren’t treated with even a basic level of respect and dignity, or we did not have a right to an education, or free healthcare, or the right to vote?

For the last two months, groups of Year 9 pupils from both Surbiton High School and Hampton School have been working with the British Institute of Human Rights at Queen Mary University on an extended, independent research project. After a day of talks, discussions and workshops at the University, they were asked, in groups of four or five, to produce an Academic Report on a subject related to Human Rights in this country, to be assessed by the Institute.

The project culminated in a presentation evening at Surbiton High School yesterday, where parents, staff from the two schools and members of the BIHR came to hear about the various findings of each of the groups who took part.

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There were a really diverse range of topics discussed: the NHS, Euthanasia, Race Hate and the Mental Health Capacity Act were just a few of the topics covered by the four Surbiton and five Hampton groups. I feel it is important to emphasise that, as well as choosing the topics themselves, the groups completed them with little in the way of direct supervision from staff from either School or the BIHR. This, coupled with the composed manner in which they dealt with some very difficult questions from the audience, makes their achievement all the more impressive.

All students were awarded with a certificate of participation, but four special prizes were awarded, three of which were claimed by the Surbiton High School groups: The Audience Prize for Best Presentation, BIHR Prize for Best Presentation and BIHR Prize for Best Written Report. Well done to all who took part, and thanks to the BIHR, Hampton School and, most of all, the students for their excellent work, which made for a highly informative and entertaining evening.