On Thursday 23 March, schoolchildren from the city will visit the House of Commons alongside the Chair of UNESCO UK and MPs.

This will be to signify Coventry’s intention for all schools in the city to join the UNESCO ASPNET Schools Network (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). The event, will be hosted by Coventry MP Taiwo Owatemi.

The Department of Political and International Studies at the University of Warwick is currently working with Coventry City Council to put in a bid for schools in Coventry to join the UNESCO ASPNET schools’ network.

The event builds on the work done by ESRC funded research which aims to empower young voices in the city. Following Thursday’s event, a programme of engagement will begin with all Coventry schools to talk to them about the programme, its benefits to schools and pupils and to then engage them on the application process.

Taiwo Owatemi, MP for Coventry North West, said “I am delighted to be hosting the event in Parliament on Thursday. It is important for us to support initiatives which enhance learning for the city’s schools.”

The UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) connects more than 12,000 schools in 182 countries to build peace in the minds of children and young people. Through concrete actions, member schools promote the ideals of UNESCO valuing rights and dignity, gender equality, social progress, freedom, justice and democracy, respect for diversity and international solidarity.

Councillor Dr Kindy Sandhu, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said: “This event is a fantastic opportunity, not just for the Coventry school pupils that will be attending, but also for our city.

“It’s a great chance to really put our city on the map and showcase the huge potential that our schools, pupils and city has. I’m sure all the pupils will have a really stimulating day and leave with a greater understanding of the benefits of becoming part of UNESCO ASPnet.”

The Network operates at international and national levels with three clear priorities: education for sustainable development, global citizenship education and inter-cultural and heritage learning.

Paul Green, Headteacher at Lyng Hall School, said: “We took a global historical issue in Transatlantic Slavery, personalised it, found connections with our community and city and then empowered our young people to work with a global community to ensure that we have a future generation that will make our world a better place. All schools in the City of Peace and Reconciliation need to be involved in this programme.”

As part of its wider efforts to raise awareness of the initiative and encourage schools to sign up to the schools network, University of Warwick will also host a conference for schools in Coventry in July, as part of the Warwick Institute of Engagement’s Resonate Festival. At present, seven schools are signed up with a potential to add more from target neighbourhoods and community groups.

Rebecca Bollands, Deputy Headteacher at Earlsdon Primary School said: “This is a great opportunity for Coventry schools to not only embed the fantastic peace and reconciliation work that is taking place in the city, but also for our young people to actively engage with the Sustainable Development Goals. This will enable our students to become responsible global citizens of the future”.

Lisa Hagan, Director of English, Lyng Hall School, added: “When we reflect on our place in the world, we need to think about the values we want to gift to others, and the legacy we wish to leave behind. By studying our cultural heritage, we enabled our young people to develop a greater understanding of who they are, and more significantly who they are meant to be.

“The Schools’ partnership holds a very exciting future for Coventry – providing space for young people across the city to engage in the challenging, and rich, conversations.”

Watch Councillor Dr Kindy Sandhu talk to two Coventry school teachers ahead of the UNESCO visit

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