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Let them be heard

Citizenship education should go beyond just including pupils involved in school councils or buddy systems, the dean of education at Edinburgh University said last week.

Such an approach amounts to simply getting pupils to participate in the school's pre-existing objectives, Pamela Munn said when she gave the annual Stevenson lecture at Glasgow University. But schools had to tackle the difficult task of giving pupils alternative, emancipatory goals, and had to find new ways of involving pupils in decision-making.

Professor Munn acknowledged there could be tensions between pupils wanting to exert certain rights and school regulations - the Iraq war protests, when some pupils were disciplined for taking time off to protest, for example, below. She did not advocate the English approach to citizenship education where it is treated as a discrete subject: "What we have tried to do in Scotland is see citizenship as a core purpose of education.

"Assessment is what marks something as a serious endeavour, so we should be debating about how to integrate citizenship into the school curriculum and use assessment in other areas of the curriculum as a way of encouraging pupils to think about citizenship issues, such as the environment or the genome.

"It would not be about testing whether their answers are right or wrong, but the quality of their argument."

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