Citizenship goes on the march in the classroom

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
IF pupils are to be coaxed into becoming active citizens, they are entitled to know about anything from truckers' disputes and the Tories to logging in Amazonian rain forests.

Citizenship education is about politics, political processes and, above all, participation within schools and communities, according to the first consultation document issued this week by Learning and Teaching Scotland, the amalgam of the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum and the Scottish Council for Educational Technology.

Professor Pamela Munn, of Edinburgh University, who chaired the review group, said there was an obvious need for further awareness - only 10.6 million people voted in the European elections against 7.5 million in the Channel 4 cult show Big Brother.

"Voter apathy is in big contrast to the interest of single-issue groups such as those on the environment, taxation or, dare I say it, fox-hunting. How do we make sure political processes take account of single-issue groups and encourage people who do not want to take part in politics at national and local level to join up their interests with broader political questions about how we should all live?" Professor Munn asked at the document's launch in Alva Academy, Clackmannanshire.

Scotland had not followed the English model of allocating 5 per cent of curriculum time between the ages of five and 16 for citizenship education and instead opted for a broad concept, with no ties to particular subjects. "We are not advocating a timetabled slot for citizenship education," she said.

However, she elieves inspectors should report on progress in meeting citizenship aims, as they now do in assessing ethos, once there is an agreed statement. Mike Baughan, Learning and Teaching Scotland's chief executive, said it would be "astonishing" if HMI did not evaluate something that was at the heart of the curriculum.

"But the review group is very anxious to send a signal to the teaching profession that this is not a burden," Mr Baughan said. "Schools will not want to ignore this since the recent education act has placed an emphasis on schools to consult with pupils. This could be an opportunity to breathe new life into pupil councils."

The consultation will last six months, double the normal time.

Professor Munn's group is proposing a range of learning outcomes and experiences over 12 years of schooling. "Active citizenship needs to be experienced as much as learnt," she said.

Mr Baughan stressed that citizenship education was an entitlement for all, "not just for the most articulate and politically minded".

A third strand is participation in school and classroom decision-making. "We are not proposing the creation of a new subject called citizenship education. Our notion is a broad one that goes across all aspects of school life," Professor Munn said.

Save the Children will help to produce citizenship materials for primary pupils and the middle stages of secondary.

Leader, page 16

Education for Citizenship in Scotland: A paper for discussion and consultation is being circulated this week. Details on www.LTScotland.com.


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