Leaky 'ship';Secondary;Reviews;Books;Personal, social and health education

16th April 1999 at 01:00
CITIZENSHIP IN FOCUS SERIES. Edited by John Foster. Democracy in Action. By Simon Foster. The Citizen and the Law. By Keith West. Human Rights. By Simon Foster. Collins pound;3.99.

Recent events have made it likely that citizenship will achieve a distinct place in the revised curriculum rather than being "cross-curricular" or crammed into careers, personal and social education.

The three very successful student books in this series cover all the necessary topics. Democracy in Action deals mainly with the British political system, though with sections on the EU and some comparisons. The Citizen and the Law explains why laws are needed and how they protect the citizen, along with the working of the judicial system. Human Rights considers universal rights and Britain's attitude to human rights, with emphasis on children. Each topic occupies one or two pages; newspaper cuttings and colour pictures are used effectively; and the questions are designed to provoke thought and debate.

My reservations concern the lack of real help for teachers. The resource book consists of nothing more than eight photocopiable masters for each student book, and a few words of introduction for each topic. There is no guidance on teaching strategies, not even how long each unit is expected to take, or whether a coherent programme can be put together using only some of the units. Since there are over 50, there is more than a year's work here, even assuming one unit a week.

Bernard Crick's report recommends that citizenship should be assessed by learning outcomes, for example: "By the end of these units the student will be able to understand and analyse the British electoral system and the alternatives." There is no mention of these, nor of any other form of assessment.

Inevitably, citizenship will mainly be taught by non-specialists. The "here's the book and a worksheet, get on with it" approach will be a turn-off for many. Until citizenship features in teacher training, authors and publishers have some responsi-bility to provide all the guidance they can if it is to become respected and established.

Frank Conley is head of politics at the Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone, and a member of the Hansard Society Education Panel. He co-wrote the society's submissions to the Crick Commission on citizenship

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