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Economic and Financial Education (EFE) – a Massive Opportunity to put Sustainable Citizenship firmly on the Curriculum Map

 

Economic and Financial Education (EFE) – a Massive Opportunity to put Sustainable Citizenship firmly on the Curriculum Map

COP26 has shown the us all that the ways forward on climate change are many and varied but it’s important to focus on the elements which relate to young people and their need to know that they can effect change individually and collectively. It is, after all, their future we are thinking about (https://together-for-our-planet.ukcop26.org/schools-pack-get-inspired/Outcomes-from-COP/).

In my article on Economic and Financial Education (EFE) in ‘Teaching Citizenship’ (No.50), I made the point that, as a teacher and as an adviser, I’ve seen the energy and enthusiasm which is generated when pupils realise that they are empowered consumers and citizens, whose decisions and actions matter and can cause corporations and governments to change their behaviour. I would add now that using the UN Millenium goals is a great way of kicking off that process...see https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/. There isn’t a single one of these that does not require us to think about our role as a consumer, as a producer and as an informed citizen.

Also, how about setting up, perhaps via your School Council/Parliament, a group of Environmental Auditors, Eco-Ambassadors or Eco-Warriors - as one school I worked with referred to them - to take stock of the energy usage across the school estate and suggest/implement improvements and savings. Agree with your SLT that a portion of any savings they identify go to their council budget for further investment in green projects. 
Or try looking at the chain of production of common items (pupils get really engaged in this type of activity - especially if it’s about chocolate, trainers or mobile phones!), the social and environmental impacts of these and the planning of individual or collective campaigns to bring about a change in corporate and/or government decision making. Start here, with the excellent Ethical Consumer Magazine (https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethical-consumer-magazine) and their various Product Guides. 

Enrol with Eco Schools to gain accreditation for your school’s work. https://www.eco-schools.org.uk/ and obviously use this work as part of your school’s journey toward the excellent ACTive Citizenship Award and this year’s ‘Sustainable Citizenship’ element within it https://www.teachingcitizenship.org.uk/sites/teachingcitizenship.org.uk/files/ACTaward-Pupil-Toolkit_Sustainability.pdf

Your pupils will develop their Citizenship skills and knowledge across areas like  problem-solving and working with others, thinking critically, rights and responsibilities, topical news and political issues, the role of government and parliament, interdependence within the UK and across the wider world and, of course, economic and financial  decisions and choices that affect us.  
I’m absolutely convinced that EFE as part of Sustainable Citizenship, is a perfect way to introduce pupils to our subject and its role in helping shape their future. Give it a try and please let us know how you get on.

 

Karl Sweeney 

Karl is an experienced secondary teacher of politics, sociology, geography, history, PSHE education and citizenship. As Education Adviser at Plymouth Local Authority he has worked with schools across the south west of England. Since 2015, Karl has worked as a visiting lecturer and tutor at Plymouth Marjon University  

29/11/21

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