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ACT RFK Human Rights Curriculum Pilot

The ACT pilot of the RFK Speak Truth to Power Human Rights Curriculum involved ten schools in England using and adapting resources from the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights.

ACT RFK Human Rights Curriculum Pilot

The ACT pilot of the RFK human rights curriculum supported Citizenship teachers across England in using and adapting resources developed by the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights.

The Speak Truth To Power curriculum is based on the UN’s principles of human rights education and its lessons use the stories of human rights defenders.

This short film shows the experiences of teachers and pupils taking part, and the impact the Speak Truth to Power curriculum can have.

Human Rights Defenders: Inspire the work
Becoming a Defender: Is the outcome of the work

“Ordinary people can make a conscious decision to do something good. Everyone can make change happen.” (Year 8 Pupil)


ACT invited a number of schools in England to participate in the project. Middlesex University evaluated the project to find out:

  • How teachers use, adapt and/or supplement the resources
  • How well the resources worked in lessons in primary and secondary schools
  • What teachers found to be the most valuable aspects of the resources
  • What kind of opportunities for active citizenship developed in response to the human rights issues explored.
  • The University also evaluated the extent to which there was an impact on pupil attitudes to and learning about human rights, human rights issues and human rights actions.




    Key lessons learned from the ACT RFK Human Rights Curriculum Pilot and evaluation included:

  • Case Studies: The curriculum resources based on real cases of individual human rights defenders are a powerful way to engage and motivate students.
  • Focus on Defenders: Using the issues tackled by defenders as a focus for teaching helped student learning about how activism and struggle are key to advancing human rights.
  • Learning about Human Rights: The range of human rights issues addressed in the case studies allowed students to build understanding of the relevance of human rights principles in a wide variety of contexts.
  • Learning about Activism: The message about being a “ripple of hope” made students feel capable of making their own contributions to advancing human rights.
  • Adapting Resources: Teachers were able to adapt and enhance the case studies and the become a defender resources to meet the needs and abilities of their students and to relate the issues to their local context.
  • Learning Outcomes: Lessons had the greatest impact on learning when students were encouraged to ‘become a defender’ and work with others towards an action-focused outcome in their own schools or communities.
  • Download more detail on the key lessons learned

    “Ordinary people can make a conscious decision to do something good. Everyone can make change happen.” Pupil participant

    Download this handy human rights checklist when planning your human rights curriculum.

    It covers:

  • Learning intentions
  • Resources
  • Follow up



    Towers School and Sixth Form Centre, Kent
    Teacher: Zoe Baker

    Students in year 8 (12-13 year olds) analysed a number of case studies that focused on gender discrimination, women and girls’ rights and LGBTQ+ discrimination. Students identified one case study they felt strongly about and prepared a campaign exhibition for staff and parents to publicise their case and enlist support for their action. Explore the sequence of learning and resources used

    Enfield Grammar School, Enfield, London
    Teacher: Verity Currie

    In this sequence of lessons for a year 7 class (11-12 year olds), students learn about a rights defender and start to plan a possible action they could undertake. The lessons introduced students to the problems of deciding what would constitute an effective political action. Explore the sequence of learning and resources used

    Addey and Stanhope School, Lewisham, London
    Teacher: Ryan Mason

    This sequence of lessons involved a year 7 class (11-12 year olds). They spent the first few lessons developing their knowledge and understanding about human rights. They then focused on the case study of Frank Mugisha and LGBT activist in Uganda. The lessons included opportunities to engage in supportive action. Explore the sequence of learning and resources used

    Priory School, Portsmouth
    Teacher: Helen Blachford

    This sequence of lessons was developed for a year 8 class (12-13 year olds). Students had studied Nelson Mandela and the Apartheid era in history lessons, but they had never considered his work in Citizenship lessons.  The STTP case study provided a starting point for a contemporary investigation and citizenship action. The lessons helped students deepen their understanding of the nature of human rights and of the struggle to achieve them. Explore the sequence of learning and resources used

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    Middlesex University evaluated the ACT pilot of the Robert F. Kennedy Speak Truth to Power human rights curriculum.

    94% of students reported that they found the lessons interesting, compelling, and motivating.
    96% felt the lessons were engaging, in large part because of their focus on individual defenders as a way to understand human rights concepts.

    The pilot project evaluated the ways teachers in England used the resources, including:

  • How do teachers adapt and/or supplement these resources to develop lessons in the context of English schools?
  • What do teachers judge to be the most valuable aspects of the resources?
  • How do teachers use the resources to provide opportunities for students’ active citizenship?
  • To evaluate the experience of students using these resources.
  • Download the full evaluation report

    The evaluation report drew on the following sources of evidence:

  • Evaluator attendance at the project meetings and at one of the school exhibitions.
  • Focus groups with participating teachers and students in some of the schools.
  • Individual interviews with some of the teachers.
  • Review of teaching materials and teachers’ records.
  • Review of samples of student work.
  • Evaluation questionnaire from some of the students.
  • “Join together and act as one. When we are together we are stronger and our voices can be heard by people in government." Pupil participant

    Send us your details to express an interest in joining the Speak Truth to Power Human Rights curriculum project in the UK or to find out more information.

    Your contact details may be shared with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

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