Citizenship in action

7th February 2003 at 00:00
Getting children to apply the concepts of citizenship in their own lives is not always easy. We have a school council, but is that enough?

Our children had problems working in groups in the classroom and playing together in the playground, and lunchtime problems were having a knock-on effect in the classroom. A year on it's a totally different picture.

We spent pound;500 on play equipment but this would not have been enough without the "playground partners". These Year 6 pupils set up and put away equipment, and two attend each game, wearing yellow tabards and caps, to ensure fair (and safe) play. Their role has a high status. Children must apply for the job, and are interviewed and trained by the learning mentor.

The whole atmosphere of the playground has changed.

Following on from this success, Year 5s were asked at the end of the summer term to apply for jobs as peer supporters. Successful candidates had a day's training from the educational psychologist and the NSPCC. Wearing red, they take up their job in Year 6 as "big brother or sister", someone a younger child can speak to and confide in.

They record what is said and decide what needs passing on to an adult.

Every Friday, the learning mentor holds a circletime to debrief and discuss issues. True citizenship in action.

Pam Turnbull, Year 3 teacher at The Heys Primary School, Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside

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