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Citizenship - Bridging the racial divide

What the lesson is about

The Year 9 (S2) children are excited as they present their "news reports". "Should people be allowed to live in any country they choose?" is one of the questions they are addressing, writes Karen Russell.

They are speaking at My Dad Says ., a conference organised by East Kent's World Education Development Group (WEDG). Designed to promote critical thinking and reduce prejudice among children, and funded by the Department for International Development, the three-year project visited Year 7s (P7s) in three schools and then revisited them over two years.

The study was prompted by Liz Hayes from WEDG, a teacher in Dover who often heard negative comments about immigration, starting "My dad says ." She surveyed other Kent teachers, who also encountered serious racial divides and prejudice.

Pupils were encouraged to discuss poverty and immigration, and shown how some foreign nationals view Brits abroad.

In Year 8 (S1), they examined the case study of a scared youth forced to flee his home. They were asked why they thought he had done this, how he felt and how he might have contacted his mother to say he was all right. The boy's story was told in cartoon form and with animations. Pupils were then asked to write their own scripts, putting themselves in "different shoes".

The University of Kent psychology department said the programme raised levels of empathy and critical thinking.

What else?

What is prejudice? Help pupils to understand different cultures, identities and points of view with RoyalGeographicalSociety's extensive lesson pack. Should we have an open borders policy for migrants? Reflect, argue and explore with instituteofideas' topic guide.

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