Citizenship education equips young people with the knowledge, skills and understanding to play an effective role in public life. Citizenship encourages them to take an interest in topical and controversial issues and to engage in discussion and debate.
Pupils learn about their rights, responsibilities, duties and freedoms and about laws, justice and democracy. Citizenship encourages respect for different national, regional and ethnic identities. Pupils begin to understand how society has changed and is changing in the UK, Europe and the Wider World. Citizenship addresses issues relating to social justice, human rights, community cohesions and global interdependence, and encourages pupils to challenge injustice, inequalities and discrimination. It helps young people to develop their critical skills, consider a wide range of political, social, ethical and moral problems, and explore ideas and opinions other than their own. They learn to take part in decision-making and different forms of action and reflect on the consequences of their action now and in the future.
They play an active role in the life of their schools, neighbourhoods, communities and wider society as active and global citizens. The pupils are involved with debating complex political, ethical and social topics; engaging in local and school issues; investigating diverse cultures and human rights. Citizenship has pupils working together, understanding others and finding out about themselves.
At Sutton Grammar School the fortnightly Citizenship lessons in year 8, 9, 10 and 11 cover the statutory units and the relevant areas of the national curriculum to ensure that students of the school have an awareness of themselves as individual citizens and the responsibilities and duties this entails. They create an e portfolio which they add to over the years during homework tasks and class activities which acts as a record of the areas they have covered and the work they have completed. These portfolios are marked on a termly basis and the grades contribute to their overall reported grade, a ‘winning portfolio’ is also selected from each class, each term and the boys are invited to go on a Citizenship expedition day. Past events have included a guided tour around the Olympic site and Wembley Stadium, lunch at Borough Market followed by a visit to and lecture on the Mayor’s office, an exhibition and debating sessions on human rights held at the British library and a multimedia performance given by refugees on their status and development within this country. These trips area fantastic opportunity for staff and students alike to learn more about citizenship in this country in anew and memorable way. The idea is also that the portfolios will help the students in year 12 with their personal statement as it will provide evidence of the community cohesion work they have done including assemblies, presentations and active citizenship projects.
However, citizenship issues are also covered in other subject areas. We have the view that one of roles as a teacher is to provide pupils with the information they need to be able to make informed judgments about a number of issues. As such, in subject lessons, we often provide a format for open discussion in order for pupils to arise at their own ideas and choices about a wide range of political, social, ethical and moral problems, and explore opinions and ideas other than their own.
So throughout specific citizenship lessons and other subject lessons, the boys are given numerous opportunities to become involved in discussion, forming balanced and justified opinions and learning about the various aspects of being a responsible citizen.