Citizenship needs to be as much about encouraging caring values as about knowing and understanding facts. It needs to be inclusive. We will not achieve the wider purposes of citizenship by relying on traditional methods of assessment which are relevant for some but not all learners.
Since its inception in the early 1980s, Asdan (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) has been promoting citizenship and PSHE by providing a variety of approaches to assessment which recognise the abilities of all learners and take account of alternatives.
Asdan collaborated with The TES and Unicef on the Children Helping children appeal to raise money for educational materials in Afghanistan, and has recognised a wide range of fundraising activities by pupils. Students from Lakeside School, Welwyn Garden City, for example, raised pound;450 for the appeal and over the past few months have been involved in a school enterprise to grow plants from seeds. This featured in a whole-school PSHEcitizenship week and provided evidence for the Asdan bronze award.
At Newent Community School, pupils worked with a children's playgroup.
Along with other activity-based challenges, this gained them credit for the Asdan community module.
At Hayward School for pupils with learning difficulties in Suffolk, Year 11 pupils enlisted parents to help fill a Euroaid charity food box for Balkan refugees, gaining them the Asdan silver award.
The Asdan award programmes provide recognition for the achievements of more than 120,000 pupils annually. The scheme develops citizenship and PSHE attainment across the ability range from pre-entry to university entrance.
At key stage 3, Asdan's whole-school key steps programme is now established in more than 1,000 schools. In collaboration with the Financial Services Agency, the key decisions programme on personal finance education at KS4 has been established in a further 750 schools.
As well as being a Qualifications and Curriculum Authority accredited awarding body, Asdan has worked for recognition of a number of educational principles. These are the importance of experiential learning; honouring a wider view of intelligence; using assessment in the development of learning; and using the judgment of teachers for the process of moderation.
During Asdan's involvement with Bernard Crick's Citizenship Working Group, we argued for the adoption of a more generous process of assessment which would build on learner strengths.
Asdan has now introduced the Certificate in Community Volunteering (CCV).
With Department for Education and Skills pilot backing, we are producing case studies on implementing the participation and responsible action strand of the citizenship curriculum. Working in a small number of schools, the pilot has thrown up helpful information on how learners might best achieve. For example, the CCV is based on portfolio work, but it can still remain a struggle for some learners to achieve sufficient evidence. So Asdan has produced a precursor activity-based programme, internally assessed, called the Community Involvement and Volunteering Award (CIVA).
The CIVA programme can be taken in Year 10 to help learners maximise their chances of producing sufficient evidence for the full CCV by Year 11.
The CCV has also been included by the QCA, along with Asdan's certificate in career planning, its key skills qualifications and entry-level life skills certificate, as criteria to be factored into league performance tables.
Information on Asdan awards Tel: 0117 9411126www.asdan.co.uk
Dave Brockington is a trustee of Asdan