Joung citizens

25th September 1998 at 01:00
Jill Lavender, head of initial teacher training, and Dave Moores, deputy headteacher, talk to ALAN COMBES about Democracy Day at Fulford School, York

THE SCHOOL

Fulford has 1,060 11-18 pupils. Each year in June we run an Activity Day for Years 7, 8 and 9. Sixth-formers help with the administration.

HOW DID YOUR CITIZENSHIP PROJECT GET STARTED?

We decided to abort the timetable for a day each summer and go with a different theme each time: multiculturalism, industry, the environment and so on. For citizenship we developed a Democracy Day, with the help of nearby York University. While political hustings and an election were held throughout the day, different years worked on citizenship and human rights issues. Year 7 looked at discrimination, Year 8 at political imprisonment and Amnesty International, and Year 9 at embryo research. Outside agencies came in to help - Lloyds Bank, Tesco, Oxfam, Amnesty International, local firms, the University and the Parents' Association. The accent was on open-ended activities and active learning.

SO WHAT DID THE PUPILS ACTUALLY DO?

The mock election went on throughout the day. Morning was publicity and events. Break and lunchtime saw the candidates vying for attention and giving their speeches. Students voted during registration for the candidate of their choice and the result was announced at the end of the day. They also voted on a single transferable vote system, and this result was announced the following day.

Amnesty International focused on children's rights and then introduced an individual case study. After that there was the writing of letters and the preparation of a creative display of writing and art work.

The discrimination group did two exercises, on inclusion exclusion and masterservant relationships. Pupils were introduced to debate through the simulation of the House of Commons' procedures through video and acting. Students were allotted roles to play and parties to represent on the issue of corporal punishment in schools.

Year 9 had a speaker from York University on embryo research followed by small group work. They studied "justice" through a mock trial and sentencing as well as an introduction to the law relating to young people.

The day was a non-uniform day, with money going to Amnesty International.

HAVE THERE BEEN ANY AREAS OF CONCERN?

It worried us that we were doing citizenship on one special day rather than allowing it to pervade the curriculum.

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE RESULTS?

The debriefing and the youngsters' written work showed it has clearly been remembered.

ANY UNFORESEEN OUTCOMES?

The Amnesty International case study was of an imprisoned Turkish teacher, and the school has got involved with his family to the extent that we send money to his wife. The pupils have also received a letter from the prisoner.

Now we also have an Environment Day which harnesses many citizenship skills. We've been looking at a real-life issue of a new estate being built behind the school and we've brought in planners, builders, council representatives and members of the community.

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