I am the citizenship lead for a small independent Special Needs School (among other roles). But what does this mean and what do I do?

The Citizenship curriculum’s aim is to produce ‘responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society’. The idea is to provide students with a sense of a social and moral responsibility, and to encourage community involvement alongside providing political literacy. At its core, it aims to teach the importance of diversity, tolerance, shared values alongside an acceptance of differences and to cultivate an awareness and concern for world affairs and global issues

The four main areas of the Citizenship curriculum are:-

1. Rule of Law

2. Democracy

3. Tolerance

4. Individual Liberty

It is often linked to PSHE – Personal, Social & Health Education, but is an entirely separate subject. As a school, we are always looking to embed the values of Citizenship within the ethos of the school, in terms of values and beliefs, understanding society and our part in it, and respecting diversity.

There are several facets to what I do. A large part of my role is putting together a Diversity Days Calendar for the year and liaising with the Head and other staff on which days they would like to focus on. Once I have this list I put together teaching resources, posters, display boards and make sure that all staff have what they need to be able to deliver the content. Days we have celebrated recently include Holocaust Remembrance Day, Chinese new Year, Sandwich Week, Children in Need, and UK Parliament Week.

I also work on more general topics relating to citizenship such as recycling, environmental issues, Health and Safety topics such as Knife Crime, and celebrating achievements and activities within the school.

I look for opportunities for the students to vote – for example we have been collecting milk bottle tops and all staff and students got to vote on which charity we donated them too.

As part of providing a rounded education, particularly for students who have struggled in a mainstream environment, we encourage debate and discussion. Staff stay with students during break times, providing ideal opportunities to discuss world events in the news or this week’s discussion topic which I choose, usually something current in the news. We have covered contentious subjects such as Euthanasia, Brexit, plastic waste and American politics. Currently we are discussing the ban of Halal meat slaughter in Belgium.

The great thing with Citizenship is that it incorporates so many different aspects of our lives and thus takes many different forms within the school – there is always something new to include within the school day, helping to inspire our students to take an interest in the world around them and help them to see how they can make it better.