THE mother of a young woman who was murdered in Rossendale has praised a school for its efforts to defend the rights of chil-dren.

Alder Grange Community and Technology School, in Raw-tenstall, became the fourth school in the country to achieve Unicef Rights Respecting School Award.

Sylvia Lancaster, who lost her 20-year-old daughter Sophie after she was attacked in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, in August 2007, thinks the school is setting the right example.

She said: “Respect is some-thing so important but sadly lacking in some young people today. I applaud Alder Grange for realising how important it is that pupils have respect for staff and each other.”

Staff and students spent 18 months working towards the award, with assemblies and classroom work geared to learning about the rights of children.

Each pupil has also studied the little blue book of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Headteacher Iain Hulland said: “It has been a powerful exp-erience for the whole school.

“Relationships in school have always been very good but achieving the award is making us raise our game.”

Head boy Robert Pratt, 15, has been involved with the campaign from the start.

He said: “Everyone has been more open and we have applied it to all lessons. We all know about rights now and everyone respects each other.

“We now have more under-standing of different people’s beliefs.”

Posters and newsletters under-lining Unicef principles have been distributed to each pupil and parent.

The school is now working towards the second stage of the RRSA and will be linking with the Sophie Lancaster Foun-dation as part of future work.