Young citizens;Interview;Graeme Smith

17th September 1999 at 01:00
Graeme Smith, senior teacher at the Brow county primary school in Runcorn, cheshire, talks to Alan Combes about his school's citizenship programme.

We have 170 pupils, most of whom are mainstream, and two speech and language units. Much of our special needs work is integrated, which is great for citizenship. We have a number of disadvantaged pupils with 50 per cent free school meals. The school had a major rebuild in 1997 following an arson attack and is now seen as a model for schools security.

How did the citizenship programme start?

Following contact from the Citizenship Institute, we started a course which was linked with Halton Council in 1997 and started as a one-class project in 1997. Funded by Northwest Water, it grew into a 27-school pilot study.

How has it developed since?

It began with loose-leaf material which we have now developed into a favourably received 40-page book for key stage 2. There is also a teacher's pack which has ideas and photographs in a ring binder and relates to the area. At national level, this material was fed into Bernard Crick's working party on citizenship. Our work with the original material has resulted in much tighter learning objectives.

What is particularly successful about your project?

The youngsters who have taken part have the self-awareness of active citizens. They know what a Euro citizen is, as well as how councils work.

Does it involve practical work?

Yes, in looking at how groups function, which means being involved in rights, rules and responsibility. In the run-up to the European elections, backed by the Institute for Citizenship, they produced worksheets which focused on voting.

What does it do for your pupils?

It makes them keen to be active citizens. Working through things like monitorial duties and organising trays at dinner times has built up self-confidence and involvement.

For an outline of the Halton Junior Citizenship workbook send an A4 envelope to the Institute for Citizenship, 62 Marylebone High Street, London W1M 3AF

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