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 cohesion 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 lives 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; and 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 years 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.
Citizenship issues are also covered in other subject areas. We have the view that one of the roles of 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 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.
In KS3 we explore the electoral system and the make-up of parliament, the role of the police and the court system. We also afford pupils the opportunity to become involved in charity and social action through the First Give project and finally investigate the notion of identity in Britain, whilst also drawing attention to ways in which individual liberty might be under threat.
In Year 7, pupils investigate British Values, particularly democracy and the rule of law. They engage in an introduction to the British parliamentary system and create their own political party. They then go on to look at the role of the police and the court system in the UK, culminating in a mock trial.
In Year 8, pupils begin their course by examining human rights and responsibilities before moving on to look at the place of charity in our society. They then engage in a project that involves researching an issue and a charity, and even planning their own project.
In Year 9, we address issues of identity answering questions like ‘What does it mean to be ‘British?’ We then investigate diversity, multiculturalism, free speech, radicalisation and honour-based violence. We end the year examining the increasingly contested notion of facts.
Moving into KS4 we challenge pupils to formulate and articulate. Citizenship education helps to provide pupils with knowledge, skills and understanding to prepare them to play a full and active part in society. In particular, our citizenship education fosters pupils’ keen awareness and understanding of democracy, government, the rule of law, individual liberty and respect and tolerance.
In Year 10, pupils begin their course by examining human rights and responsibilities before looking at genocide. Pupils are asked to investigate a genocide and complete a project to mark/raise awareness of such an event. Lastly, we look at Apartheid and debate the death penalty.
In Year 11, pupils investigate the political system and landscape in the United Kingdom. This includes reviewing the role of an MP and elections. We then broaden our focus wider to political ideologies, American political systems and media bias.