RE & Citizenship: a shared vision?
The Citizenship Foundation

Introduction
Carrie Supple, former Redbridge SACRE member, is now working for the Citizenship Foundation as Project Support Officer. Here she describes the work of her organisation. Ted Huddleston, Curriculum Development Officer, then puts Citizenship into the RE context.

The work of the Citizenship Foundation
The Citizenship Foundation has been working nationally and internationally since 1989 to promote better quality citizenship education. We develop teaching programmes and devise and run school competitions. We offer training courses and publish resources aimed at fostering a commitment to justice, a positive view of cultural diversity and at building a sense of collective responsibility.

Our projects are particularly in the field of:

  • rights and responsibilities;
  • education for democracy;
  • political literacy;
  • human rights;
  • law and the legal system; and
  • moral and critical thinking.

Healthy democracies need well-informed citizens who take an active interest in their community. They need people who value themselves and others and are aware of the contribution they can make to society.

Our work has extended across the spectrum of educational needs. We find examples of positive practice in schools, communities, councils and non-governmental organisations. We aim to share ideas and put practitioners in touch with each other, via our website (www.citfou.org.uk) newsletter and courses. We have contact with educators and human rights activists in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, South America, and Japan.

One of our challenges is to provide evidence of how good citizenship education can improve the atmosphere and practice in schools. We would argue that it is impossible for a school to foster democratic thought and action without providing opportunities for active pupil participation, and enabling pupils to feel they can make a difference.

The Citizenship Foundation, 15, St. Swithin's Lane, London, EC4N 8AL
Tel: 020 7929 3344    Fax: 020 77929 0922    e-mail: info@citfou.org.uk
Website www.citfou.org.uk

Citizenship and RE
Citizenship continues to play a growing role in primary schools and, from September 2002, will be part of the statutory curriculum in secondary schools. There are elements in the programmes of study that will need discrete curriculum arrangements, such as teaching about parliamentary and other forms of government and the electoral system. However, RE teachers will find that, in many cases, they are already contributing towards, if not explicitly fulfilling, aspects of the new Citizenship curriculum: e.g.:

teaching pupils about:

  • the 'diversity of religious and ethnic identities in the UK and the need for mutual respect and understanding' (KS3 1b);
  • the 'work of voluntary groups' (KS3 1f);
  • the 'world as a global community' (KS3 1i):

teaching pupils to

  • think about topical 'spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues, problems and events' (KS3 2a);
  • 'justify orally and in writing a personal opinion about such issues, problems or events' (KS3 2b);
  • 'contribute to group and exploratory class discussions' (KS3 2c);
  • 'use their imagination to consider other people's experiences and be able to think about, express and explain views that are not their own' (KS3 3a).

RE can be an important vehicle in delivering key elements in Citizenship. Teachers of RE are more experienced than most in focused discussion work and at dealing with controversial issues in an even-handed and sensitive way.

However, RE is not the same as Citizenship. RE teachers may find they need to emphasise different aspects or focus on different elements of topics they are already teaching.

A topic on Martin Luther King may focus on concepts such as civil rights and social justice as universal moral and political ideals as well as on the religious motivation to social justice. A comparison of Christian and Buddhist beliefs about animal rights might also involve pupils in a discussion about what a 'right' is and whether such a term is applicable in the context of non-human animals.

Postscript
The Citizenship Foundation is preparing a resource linking Citizenship, RE and PSE, Good Thinking: Education for Citizenship and Moral Responsibility. Written by Ted Huddleston and Don Rowe, it will be published by Evans Brothers in Autumn 2000.


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