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Accentuate the practical, eliminate the procedural

As schools grapple with a new subject, Trevor Green says we should not turn the clock back to boring civics.

One of David Blunkett's laudable achievements has been the realisation of a personal goal - that of securing a place for 'citizenship' in the national curriculum at key stages 3 and 4 from August 2002.

The idea has been neglected in schools and some say that the subject ought to be up there with literacy and numeracy.

As a rehashed version of civics, with the emphasis on procedural matters, it will fail. But as a subject with practical applications, relevant and essential to the lives of young people, it could be a success.

In this case, I hope Estelle Morris shares her predecessor's enthusiasm, and schools will get the support that they need and deserve.

Officially, the emphasis is on 'flexibility'. Schools have to find a system that suits their individual situation. But in terms of knowledge, skills and the options for participation in the extended curriculum, the opportunities for young people are almost unlimited.

Yet teachers and curriculum managers might take a more anxious view, because of the pressure on an already overcrowded curriculum and the shortage of staff with a specialist background.

Now, however, the opportunity exists for accreditation - that public badge of credibility - with the exam boards, AQA, Edexcel and OCR, all providing GCSE short courses.

Many teachers may be enthusiastic about a subject that not only will influence behaviour and relationships, but also provide a greater understanding of the political process. But where can the best resources be found for the subject? In some ways, there are simply too many available, but some of the following might help you avoid information overload.

Liz Craft is the subject officer for citizenship at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. She can be contacted on 020 7509 5555, or e-mail citizenship@qca.org.uk. Quarterly issues of Citizenship amp; PSHE Update are available from QCA publications. There is also a comprehensive scheme of work for key stage 3 citizenship, with a version for key stage 4 to follow. QCA publications (telephone 01787 884444) is the educational equivalent of a rapid response unit. Updated information is also available from the DFES public enquiry unit. Tel: 0870 000 2288. e-mail: info@dfes.gsi.gov.uk or visit www.qca.org.uk.

The Citizenship Foundation has an excellent website at www.citfou.org.uk. email: info@citfou.org.uk. The Institute for Citizenship (www.citizen.org.uk or e-mail info@citizen.org.uk) publishes a termly magazine Citizenship Update. Call 020 7241 7414 to add your name to the mailing list.

Joining the Association for Citizenship will provide support for all aspects of teaching and learning . Call 0121 666 7878 for membership details, or visit www.teaching citizenship.org.uk for shared information, practical ideas and discussion.

There are relatively few books available that are dedicated to the relevant schemes of work and exam specifications. But the Citizenship Foundation has a very useful publications list, and Tony Thorpe has produced a very readable key stage 3 book, Understanding Citizenship, (Hodder and Stoughton).

OCR promises an approved coursebook for GCSE by Thorpe and Marsh by early summer. Videos are also available. Contact Malcolm Ward by e-mail (mward@channel4.co.uk).

Ofsted will inspect provision for citizenship, but it has yet to publish a booklet on its approach . Updates will be available at www.ofsted.gov.uk.

Co-operative Insurance has a free KS4 education pack. Contact Carolyn Hicks: 0161 837 4912; (carolyn.hicks@cis.co.uk).

Trevor Green is a senior examiner for citizenship Contacts

Stands B510, B420, C431, C314, PV274

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