CITIZENSHIP – A Superhero Subject
The value of citizenship in schools to encourage students to be better citizens.
In the past decade or so, there have been huge strides forward in ensuring that all students receive additional educational input that provides them with the skills and knowledge to be active and responsible citizens in communities, countries and the planet they inhabit.
Sounds great, right?
The need to evidence British Values, Prevent, SMSC and Student Voice alongside the 101 other things going on within a school at any one time can seem a monumental task. How’s it going to be delivered? Who will deliver it? Is there a budget? How will it be tracked? How will it be assessed? Who will lead on it?
There is a national curriculum subject, which, if taught well (and to all students) meets the vast majority of the agendas previously mentioned. Its unique design ensures that students can explore democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and tolerance as outlined in the British Values framework. It allows students to examine radicalisation and extremism from both a national and global context as recommended by the Prevent duty for schools. Learning about community cohesion, moral rights, multi-faith Britain and cultural diversity as highlighted allows students to naturally build upon their SMSC development and finally, an in-depth study of our parliamentary process. This not only teaches students about leadership, it actively encourages them to play a role in the democratic process of the UK and beyond.
The name of this superhero subject…? Citizenship!
As a Citizenship specialist, I’ve always been surprised that more schools don’t teach the subject as a discreet timetabled lesson across both key stages. Of course, I’m biased; I adore the subject and am at my happiest when debating a political issue, examining global inequality or evaluating the British legal system. However, my surprise also comes from the knowledge that it does not have to be an uphill challenge for schools to meet the requirements of yet more agendas.
Rather than spinning plates and inevitably waiting for one to drop and smash to the floor, schools can rest in the knowledge that a robust citizenship curriculum has got their back! It’s like the swiss army knife of social education; with each new topic that’s introduced, students become more knowledgeable about life in modern Britain, thus developing tolerance and understanding along the way.
When I look back at my PGCE application, the reasoning for choosing Citizenship was simple. I wanted to make a difference to the lives of young people. I wanted them to vote, know their rights, fight for injustice and be culturally aware. To be informed and active citizens.
If schools can see the value of this subject, timetable it, staff it with specialists and reach out to the many amazing organisations that are ready and waiting to support schools in its delivery, they will find not only do they have a subject that meets the requirements of British Values, Prevent, SMSC and Student Voice, they also have a subject that encourages the students in their care to be responsible and respectful citizens…
…And isn’t that one of the main reasons we all got into teaching in the first place?
For free resources to support SMSC and citizenship delivery, check out www.smscideas.co.uk