Chestnut Grove Academy
45 Chestnut Grove
Balham, London SW12 8JZ

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Article 2: Children have the right to live free from discrimination

In July, we celebrated the human right to equality by holding an Equality Day for Year 7. In total, 20 members of the community came in to speak to our students about their experiences of discrimination, their work and their beliefs. The event was organised by Ms Taylor and the Equality and Human Rights Club. At the beginning of the Equality Day, some of our Year 9 girls read Maya Angelou’s poem ‘And Still I Rise.’ Students spoke about everything from colourism to sign language to the march against Donald Trump!


In March 2018, students took part in a Feminist Tea Party. The KS3 students shared cake and stories with feminists from the local community. A huge thanks goes to Anna Flight, Stephanie Campbell, Rachel Krys, Laura Bates and Carys Afoko.

To celebrate LGBT+ History Month, Year 8 students took part in an LGBT+ Panel with representatives from the local community, including Aslie Pitter who began the Stonewall Football Club, as well as friends of the school Elina and Rachel who all spoke about their experiences. The event considered two of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act: sexual orientation and gender reassignment. 45% of lesbian, gay, bi and trans students at school are bullied at school. We also all have the right to live free from discrimination (Article 2). 

86% hear the phrases 'that's so gay' or 'you're so gay' at school. The majority of students say that they have heard offensive terms being used at school. 4 out of 5 trans young people and 3 in 5 LGB young people have self-harmed. 2 in 5 trans and 1 in 5 LGB young people have attempted to take their own lives. LGBT pupils are still significantly more likely to avoid school and this has to change. Whilst this may not be an issue at Chestnut Grove, it is because of such events, where people kindly give up their time to come in to the school, that we are able to continue tackling stereotypes.


Anti-Bullying Week is also commemorated each year. Our students took part in a Rainbow Cake Sale for LGBT + rights, judged by food blogger Jack Monroe, and a group of our students won the national prize for their outstanding cake and rap. This year, students have also learnt about hate speech and how the laws surrounding free speech have been made.

Our displays, assemblies and tutor time activities also reflect our inclusive ethos. Students this year have learnt about the history of human rights, Black History Month, International Woman's Day and the Paralympics. Students were awarded for achievement last year by Paralympian Aaron Phipps who plays rugby for Great Britain and Elly Barnes who runs the charity Educate and Celebrate. Each year, our students also wear their 'Get over it!' badges with pride. Students focus on a different protected class each half term: immigrants, ethnicity, gender, LGBT+, mental health and disability, and beliefs.


Article 6 : The right to life, survival and development

Children have the right to life and must be able to develop to their full potential. A key part of helping children to live long and happy lives it to look after their health. In PSHE lessons, students have been learning first aid skills to help them. They also recently took part in a sports day where they could really help themselves get fit!

On the last day of term, one group of students spent the whole day looking at the effects of sugar. They made low sugar recipes and even produced a video to help other make healthy food too!

Articles 12 and 13: Respect for the views of the child

Students have the right to consult on all issues that affect them through their Student Council. The council representatives collect information from tutor groups and these are given, in the form of minutes, to the Senior Leadership Team. This term, students have discussed their ideas for outside space, resulting in the planning of a new outside canteen area. Watch this space!

Students have the right to consult on all issues that affect them through their Student Council. The council representatives collect information from tutor groups and these are given, in the form of minutes, to the Senior Leadership Team. This term, students have discussed their ideas for outside space, resulting in the planning of a new outside canteen area. They have also consulted on the behaviour policy and uniform policy to ensure that students can wear shorts if they wish to in the summer and non-uniform on trip days. Student Council meets every Thursday morning where they go through issues that have been raised and are also taught leadership skills.

In May 2018, students took part in the City Pitch Leadership Day. City Pitch is a programme run by the Mayor’s Fund for London to help young people get involved in social action. Students worked in teams to develop their own campaigns, based on social issues that they wanted to do something about. The students spent the day perfecting their leadership skills, including working on how they presented ideas and listened to others, before presenting their campaign to the whole group. Some phenomenal ideas were developed, including:  ‘Light at Night,’ a campaign to raise awareness around sexual harassment; ‘Stamp Out Sugar,’ a campaign designed to raise awareness around the dangers of unhealthy eating; and ‘Safe Space,’ where students tried to set up a room full of games where peer mentoring could take place. The winning group were ‘Brighten Up’ who developed a campaign to improve mental health. Their suggestions included additional tutoring, counselling, mental health training for young people and art classes. The students presented their final pitch on the 13th July at City Hall, winning £1500 to spend on their project! You can find them on Twitter @CityPitch_MFL and in the Balham Daily News

Article 14: Right to religion and beliefs

On the 16th July, we welcomed 20 different faith leaders from the community to come to the school for our annual Interfaith Day. Representatives of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Bahá’i, Judaism, Christianity, Quakers, Islam and Humanism came to speak to Year 9 about their beliefs. All students in Chestnut Grove Academy study Philosophy, Beliefs and Ethics and the high percentage of passes in the school shows that they are really knowledgeable about religions and Humanism!

Article 22: Protection of refugees

Nearly 50 million children are refugees around the world. Being a refugee means that lots of other rights are affected, from education to social security. Eloise, Mia, Eshaal, Izza, Leonie and Alessandra set up a drive to collect things that refugees in Calais might need, from toothbrushes to warm clothes. This was all donated to Help Refugees in Brixton so that it could be shipped to Calais.

Article 24: The right to health

Alongside their weekly lesson in Health, students at the school are currently being trained in basic first aid.

Every child has the right to health, including positive mental health. 1 in 10 young people will suffer from a mental health disorder and many more will face mental health issues. A group of 30 students were asked to take part in the City Leadership project. City Pitch is a Mayor's Fund for London project delivered in partnership with the Be Open Foundation. During the leadership day, all students worked in teams to create a pitch for an idea that would benefit their community. The winning team was chosen to pitch to the Mayor's team in City Hall. Here is their video pitch for 'Brighten Up', an idea aimed at improving mental health in the community.

Article 26: The right to social security and assistance
A copy of letter from Maisie JenningsNational Period Pride Day is on February 18th in the UK. Many girls from low-income families around the world are skipping school because they cannot afford tampons or pads. Missing school during menstrual cycles has been a well-known pattern in developing countries, like Kenya, for years. Now, the reality is setting in that this is a trend for low-income girls everywhere, including the Western world. Sanitary products cost over £5,000 in a lifetime. The tax on sanitary products in the UK is 5% because, according to the government, tampons and pads are ‘luxury’ items. However cake and men’s razors are viewed as essential items without the same tax. This forces some people to use things such as socks, dirty fabrics and even paper during their periods. 48% of girls in England say they have missed school because of their period and in third world countries it is 60%!

To support this campaign, Feminist Club in conjunction with Equality and Human Rights Society held a bake sale outside the library at break. In 15 minutes, the team raised over £160, all of which will go towards buying sanitary products for girls in needs. Maisie also wrote to her local MP about this important issue. Sanitary products are freely available from reception at school and at local food banks.

Our students have also collected for food banks this year. Over a hundred cans were collected alongside bags of pasta and sauces, tea and coffee and other goods. Students from Year 7, 8 and 9 took the food to the local food bank to help families who need it. These collections go on throughout the year so please donate whenever you are able!

Students were also extremely moved by the plight of those living through the Grenfell disaster. Here is a video made by one Year 8 student to raise awareness:

Article 31: The right to play, culture and leisure

All students have the right to leisure and culture. In March 2018 students from the Consented club were taken to see Hamlet at the Hackney Empire starring Paapa Essiedu and Mimi Ndiweni. The play tells of Hamlet who finds out his uncle, who has married his mother, actually killed his father.


Article 42: Knowledge of rights

Thanks to Ms Rafael and Mr Coulson, our walls are adorned with these rights-respecting posters to make sure that students know what their rights and responsibilities are!

In 2016, students took part in a full week on human rights to launch our commitment to the UNICEF rights and respecting schools award. Students took part in a huge range of activities designed to help them learn about rights locally and globally:

  • Fly kites for peace: Making kites as part of the 'Kites not Drones' project started in Afganistan
  • Afganistan Skype: Skyping with students in Kabul to find out about their experiences
  • Facing History: Learning about the events of the Holocaust with a guest speaker
  • Houses of Parliament: School trip to the Houses of Parliament
  • Journalism and Film: 24 Students worked as journalists and film makers for the week, reporting on the events, with a further 40 students designing websites to host their work
  • Brixton Project: Students visited the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton to learn about the history of migration in South London
  • Mock Trial: Students worked with a barrister to participate in a mock court case
  • First Aid Training: 200 students learning basic first aid and CPR as part of learning about our right to healthcare
  • Chickenshed Theatre: Looking at equal opportunities in drama with an inclusive theatre group
  • Herstory: Finding out about feminism and women's history
  • Women in prison: Looking at prison reform with a guest speaker who works for the charity, Women in Prison
  • Inequality in London: 60 students visited the Museum of London to learn about the history of inequality in the City
  • Medicins San Frontiers: 20 Students met an aid worker from Medicins Sans Frontiers to learn about the charity's role tackling Ebola and in refugee camps
  • Peace trail around London: 40 students participated in a Peace trail around London to learn about the key historical figures who have made an impact on international democracy
  • Caranes for peace: Inspired by the story of Sadako, students aimed to create 1000 origami cranes
  • Songs and speeches of protest: Students learnt about peaceful ways of protesting by creating songs and speeches that could change the world
  • The right to clean water: Students learnt how to clean water by visiting a water treatment plant
  • Cheerleading and protest: Students practised cheerleading as a means of peaceful protest
  • Human rights and the use of walls: Students studied how walls have been used to deprive people of human rights in countries around the world before creating their own human rights murals
  • Blankets and woolly hats: Students looked at the plight of people who suffer from a lack of warmth and made hats and blankets for refugees
  • The right to leisure: Students took part in a wide range of leisure activities, from watersports to cricket
  • Football Beyond Borders: Students learnt about what is happening in Palestine and looked at how football has been used to raise awareness of human rights issues