Preaching to the converted

20th October 2000 at 01:00
CITIZENSHIP FOR PRIMARY SCHOOLS. Teacher's resource books for Years 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 pound;13 each. Big Flipover Book Years 1-2 pound;40. Photopacks for Years 3-4and 5-6 pound;25 each. Stephanie Turner - Institute for Citizenship. Nelson Thornes.

The thought that Kane and Daisy in Year 6 might one day rule the world - well, help choose the government at any rate - brings me out in a cold sweat. Kane keeps his brains in his football boots and Daisy, bless her cherubic cheeks, probably left hers at home with everything else she regularly forgets.

However, preparing for citizenship means more than training for political responsibility. The non-statutory Framework for personal, social and health education, and citizenship at key stages 1 and 2 recognises this. Printed in the National Curriculum Handbook for the new primary curriculum, it considers social and moral responsibility; community involvement and political literacy. It is hard to think of anything taught in primary schools that is more important.

Nelson Thornes and the Institute for Citizenship (www.citizen.org.uk) are about to publish resource materials to help move from Framework to practice. The institute, which was established eight years ago and is not widely known among primary practitioners, was responsible for developing the ideas in the package

The introduction to the teacher's resource book talks about citizenship as a "distinct subject" having "a regular place on the timetable from now on". Citizenship has, however, always been at the heart of primary practice. Primary schools strive to promote behaviours and qualities that make children grow as people.

While I can happily subscribe to this as the foundation of a sound curriculum for citizenship, talk about "distinct subjects" and "timetables" rings warning bells. The political trend to tie things up in neat parcels that can be "delivered", is also evident in the Institute's material. It advises schools to start with an "audit" and talks of teachers "hitting targets" when it is not a question of this, but of whether learning takes place. Not the same thing at all.

The teacher's resource book has many good suggestions, most of which are well-known. We should, it suggests, have reward assemblies; make efforts to share cultural experiences and brainstorm about school rules. Indications are that the accompanying photopacks are excellent professional productions tested on a group of Luton schools. These materials will not be the last on citizenship. Who knows - where Luton leads, others may follow.

Paul Noble is head of St Andrew's primary school, Blunsdon, Wiltshire


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