Pupils find their voice

17th October 2003 at 01:00
"I've learned that even I can make a difference," a Year 10 student told me after presenting her citizenship coursework to our local MP. Many teachers find involving whole-year groups in active citizenship a daunting challenge. I find one straightforward way is the Plan, Prepare, Present model. This neatly fits the coursework component for GCSE citizenship and can be completed in a term.

Plan: explore with students issues that concern them in school or community. Keep their ideas realistic and focused on what's really important to them. Then ask them to choose one issue - it must be their choice. Our students have chosen subjects such as community safety, teenage pregnancy and the lack of leisure facilities. Next ask them to form a small group with other students who share a similar concern. .

Prepare: ask them to collect primary and secondary research on their chosen issue. Primary research can most easily be collected by questionnaires, but many students choose to supplement this with a short video or photographs.

When they have collected their evidence, ask them to create a PowerPoint presentation which ends with a list of specific recommendations regarding their chosen issue.

Present: invite members of the community to a presentation event, for example the police, a councillor, the headteacher or your MP, ideally adults who have a direct responsibility for the issues the students have raised. The students will present their work, spelling out their recommendations. Ask the guests to respond briefly - it's a time for adults to listen and young people to speak out.

Convincing young people they have a voice and they can make a difference is what citizenship is about.

Pete Pattisson, citizenship co-ordinator, Deptford Green School, Lewisham

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