New modules for our model citizens

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
From multimedia CD-Roms and online newspaper resources to an e-voting system, the resources for citizenship are limited in quantity but not quality, as Graham Hart discovers

Once schools have resolved how and by whom citizenship should be incorporated into the timetable, they turn to the third question - what resources will help deliver the curriculum? Unfortunately, exhibitors at BETT only offer a few solutions.

Espresso Education rightly leads the field because of its sponsorship of the Department for Education and Skills' launch of the citizenship curriculum. To celebrate this association, Espresso is providing schools with a free citizenship starter pack, which contains a third of a typical year's key stage 3 citizenship curriculum. The others for the remainder of the school year can be bought at reduced rates (pound;1.50 per pupil). The product comes in CD format, unlike most other network-delivered products from Espresso.

The free CD comprises video clips, a variety of multimedia tests, teachers'

notes and guidance, comprehensive links between the resources and curriculum requirement and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority scheme of work. There are also articles from newspaper websites, a homework site and printable worksheets.

The strength of Espresso products is their relevant and up-to-date reporting on key issues. Modules on the CD include community issues, political and legal systems, rights and responsibilities, global topics and healthy living. You can see and hear imprisoned Burmese opposition leader Aung San Sui Kyi, read about Tessa Jowell MP's contribution to a summit on body image and eating disorders and view real figures relating to global temperature increase, plus there are innumerable relevant web links. Although the material is aimed at key stage 3, it has relevance throughout the secondary school; the video clips will appeal most.

Proquest is also in the business of providing access to relevant but hard-to-find citizenship materials for secondary schools. Its online news service, Proquest Learning: News, (pound;350 for single-user licence, pound;550 for full site) takes a cross-curricular approach to delivering the subject. The site, which schools can purchase access to, comprises newspaper coverage from tabloids and broadsheets over the past 10 years. Content is organised under useful headings - conflict, the environment, communities etc - and there is a good cross-referencing system.

Each topic is fronted by an editorial entry which not only introduces the issues, but points teachers towards key discussion topics. Pivotal articles are highlighted and other features include a headline collection, captioned images, background reading and web links, but, there are no video clips. Content is constantly updated and Proquest also hosts discussion groups, allowing schools and individuals worldwide to compare notes.

Another source to kick-start citizenship is AVP Educational Software and Video. The company's products range through primary and secondary; the six titles in the Lesson Bank PSHE and Citizenship series (pound;29.32) look excellent for primary. Each title comprises a book and CD (books can be bought separately) that cover diverse topics for each age group. And all the key elements are there - topic coverage, contents, teaching notes and photocopiable exercises.

For teachers in secondary, AVP produces On-line Citizenship and PSHE (pound;14.95) and PSHE and Citizenship Today (pound;46.99). The first of these is one of a series of books intended to help teachers get the best out of the internet, both for themselves and pupils. The second is a CD-Rom course supporting Edexcel's new GCSE Short Course in Citizenship Studies.

Citizenship offers great scope for debates, motions and votes (kids love them) and for this Counterpoint MTC's HiClick is a useful tool (pound;399 for three-user version). Its system receives electronic "votes" from a class - think "ask the audience" - making it ideal for anonymous polls, but also for instant student feedback and gathering answers to multiple-choice questions, thus allowing assessment of students' understanding. It's probably best for key stage 2 upwards. If you visit BETT, go and see it.

As a topic to start, how about royalty? Should we be talking about citizenship or subjectship?

Graham Hart is a freelance writer and also MD of Hart McLeod, a packager of educational materials

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