A good place to start

ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP IN SCHOOLS: A Good Practice Guide to Developing a Whole School Policy. By John Potter. Kogan Page Price: pound;19.99

This excellent and well-structured book is a must-read for all those seeking answers to the questions: "What is citizenship education?"

"Why is it important?" and "How can it be delivered across schools and communities?"

These questions provide the structure of the book and its strengths. John Potter succeeds in fleshing out the reasons behind the formal introduction of citizenship as a new subject. He locates the aims and outcomes of citizenship education within the challenges facing society, the education system and schools.

This bridges the gap between the detailed Crick report, which saw citizenship incorporated into the national curriculum, and the terse Curriculum Order that followed.

John Potter uses his work with CSV (Community Service Volunteers) to maximum benefit. He explains the philosophy of citizenship education and brings it to life through a myriad of real case studies from schools and communities, drawn from CSV projects.

These case studies provide sound advice and models, a reference point to which teachers and co-ordinators will return again and again.

The final part of the book addresses the wider community and the need to promote a culture of volunteering. It raises my only note of caution in using this book. Citizenship education involves volunteering and activities in the community, but not all volunteering is citizenship.

Citizenship education is also fundamentally about developing political literacy among young people through community activities. Naturally, in a book celebrating the work of CSV, the emphasis is going to be more on community involvement than political literacy.

Having said that, however, this book does a great service in bringing citizenship education to life and highlighting what can be achieved.

David Kerr is principal research officer at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). He was professional officer for the Advisory Group on Education for Citizenship

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