Young citizens;Citizenship

7th May 1999 at 01:00
Steve Dool, deputy head at Park Hill High School, Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside, talks to Alan Combes about his school's approach to citizenship Citizenship

The school

It's an 11-16 comprehensive in central Birkenhead, with 1,100 pupils drawn from 20 feeder schools. It's a very deprived area - 68 per cent of pupils get free school meals and 133 are on the special needs register.

How do you approach citizenship?

There are three initiatives in history. We examine the life and community of a local 19-year-old who fought in the First World War, to develop pupils' respect for memorials, monuments and graves. In geography, we exchange material related to our local area (urban structure, inner-city problems, land use), with our Spanish partner school. With a Dutch partner school, De Stroom College, we study use of parkland and public transport.

In RE, we promote anti-racism, and in art, pupils examine society and culture in India and Egypt. In PSE, we look at local government and democracy and involve pupils on town hall and council chamber visits.

What are your most effective citizenship events?

We are very proud of the Wirral Civic Award, a unique project for nine to 14-year-olds running in many schools, youth clubs and other organisations throughout the borough.

Pupils start it in Year 5 of the primary school and complete it in Year 8 at Park High, so it assists transfer.

There are five aspects - good citizenship (involving study of the local community and council), self-reliance, (two nights' camp and problem-solving activities), physical achievement, (involves parents and youth leaders), service to others, (fund-raising) and wise use of leisure, (drama, music clubs, library, youth club).

It also includes a first aid qualification. Each pupil can have his or her Civic Award log signed by people in the community, not just teachers, and it is an excellent tool for monitoring what pupils do out of school.

Park High has launched a Citizen of the Month award. For one month recently, there were 23 nominees. It is an area for pupils who don't always excel at the academic. The winner receives a pen and a certificate.

Citizen 2000, which is supported by the European Social Fund, is a unit in which problem youngsters are confronted with the consequences of anti-social actions in terms of society and community. They are presented with a model of what will constitute good citizenship in the next century.

What effects do you hope citizenship will have?

We hope to create embedded values, the highest of which is a respect for self and others. We also want to emphasise honesty, trustworthiness and reliability. We want our pupils to recognise that these are the values of all cultures, nationally and internationally.

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