Pupils and staff welcomed Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell into Hill West Primary School last week in response to children’s handwritten letters to the Prime Minister.
Mr Mitchell visited the school after he passed on the letters – which focused on climate change and the impact on children’s rights globally – to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The MP joined pupils and staff at the school on Friday 16 July to talk about a range of topics, including the UNICEF Outright campaign, which looks at how climate change can impact negatively on children’s rights, and supports children to voice their views.
Year 5 children felt so strongly about the issues, that they wrote to the Prime Minister, asking him to uphold his responsibilities as a Duty Bearer to take positive action to support the rights of children around the world. The school has since received a letter of thanks from Number 10 Downing Street.
The letters were initially sent to Mr Mitchell, as he is both their constituency MP and also has a strong record of campaigning for the rights of people around the world, with pupils asking him if he would consider forwarding them to the Prime Minister.
Acting deputy headteacher, Rhian Warrack (pictured above, top right, next to Andrew Mitchell MP and headteacher Dr Beth Clarke and pupils from year 5, said: “We were thrilled to learn that Mr Mitchell did support the rights of the children at Hill West to express their views and opinions, and to have their voices listened to, as he forwarded their letters to the Prime Minister in early July.
“We were absolutely delighted to then be contacted by Mr Mitchell, asking if he could come to Hill West and meet some of the children who had written letters, and we welcomed him in school on a beautiful sunny afternoon.”
Hill West Primary School, part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, is working towards the UNICEF Rights Respecting School Gold Award. Mr Mitchell spoke to the children about a range of subjects, sharing some of his experience of supporting human rights during his career.
The children asked insightful questions on matters including climate change and how Mr Mitchell has been supporting those living in poverty in the UK, especially during the pandemic. Pupils also asked how the MP and the government are supporting children’s right to a high quality education now and moving forwards after COVID. The children were interested in why and how Mr Mitchell became a Member of Parliament. They heard about the work he has been doing to try and prevent the government from reducing the International Development Budget, and his decision to keep Sutton Park open during the pandemic.
Dr Warrack added:
“The children relished their opportunity to express their views and feelings in all matters affecting them to their Member of Parliament and to have Mr Mitchell take them seriously. They are also extremely grateful for his support in putting their views forward to our Prime Minister and sincerely hope that they are taken seriously by Boris Johnson, as they have been by Mr Mitchell, so that they can have a positive impact on children’s rights, both here in Sutton Coldfield, the UK, and around the world.”
Mr Mitchell said: “It was wonderful to meet the pupils and staff at Hill West and to learn more about their work with UNICEF’s ‘Rights Respecting Schools’ and ‘Outright’ campaigns. I was very impressed with their letters – huge congratulations to the children for all their hard work and tenacity. These future citizens care about the rights of all children globally and are empowered to instigate change by using their collective voice.
“The pupils are politically and environmentally aware, so it was an excellent opportunity to talk to them about politics, the world they live in and the issues that impact them and others across the world. There is no doubt that we have some young leaders in our midst.”