British Citizen Awards for five pupil led ACTive Citizenship projects
Children are speaking out, challenging inequality and making a positive difference using their democratic skills as part of a new ACTive Citizenship Award Scheme launched by First News and the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT). At a time when many feel disillusioned with what is going on in our politics and democratic society, children and young people are becoming more engaged, and using opportunities provided in their Citizenship education to learn about democracy and take responsible action.
At the British Citizen Youth Awards ceremony in parliament today - also known as 'The People's Honours', five of the medalists are recipients of the new ACTive citizenship award scheme set up by First News and ACT to recognise the active citizenship that children and young people are doing through their Citizenship education in the curriculum, school and community.
The new scheme was launched last year and over 500 schools have now signed up.
"At First News, we know that young people want to understand and discuss local, national and global issues. They want to have their voices heard and participate. The award scheme we have created with the Association for Citizenship Teaching, provides a simple toolkit to enable teachers to integrate Citizenship projects into the curriculum. It empowers young people to make positive changes in their communities from a very young age."
Nic Smallshaw, Head of Education, First News
“Our aim was to create something simple and free to encourage more schools to get involved in Citizenship education which is also a subject in the national curriculum. Our goal is to ensure all children have opportunities to develop their knowledge and understand of practical politics and participate in real experiences of being democratic citizens and make positive contributions to the world around them. We nominated five of the 300 active citizenship projects from this summer to go through to the British Youth Citizenship Awards - we are delighted that pupils from all five projects are being recognised at the ceremony in parliament today.”
Liz Moorse, ACT Chief Executive
For the very first time recognise a whole class of pupils is being recognised at the BYCA ceremony from the Sir John Heron Primary School in London for their work on homelessness in the local community. Pupils in year 3 had been discussing a range of social issues with their teacher and decided as a class to take forward action to try to address homelessness in their community. The pupils researched the issue, and invited people from local homeless charities to come and speak with them; they led an assembly for children in their school about the cause and effects of homelessness in their community; and they wrote to their MP and the Mayor of London to share their concerns and made recommendations that changes be made to the school curriculum so that education about mental health and financial education are given much more prominence, something that the Department for Education has recently started to address.
The Active Citizenship Award scheme is simple to use and designed to recognise:
- pupil initiation and leadership in tackling issues of concern
- resilience in overcoming challenges
- clear Citizenship knowledge, understand and skills have been developed and applied while taking action
- real impact and positive changes made in the wider community.
For more information on the Award Scheme sign up for a free teacher guide and pupil action toolkit and see First News
Details of the Five BYCA medallists
Ben aged 13 from the Quay School, a special school in Poole had been learning about human rights and the rights of the child in the curriculum. Motivated by his own negative experiences in previous schools, he instigated a project with his peers to develop a school wide rights charter. He led a consultation with the school community (staff, pupils, parents) and presented his ideas to the school council who agreed to adopt the charter. This is now an essential feature of everyday school life.
Sam aged 13 from the same school took on the issue of non-binary students being recognised on school forms. Through Sam’s action all school forms now include a non-binary descriptor alongside male and female. Sam then worked with the headteacher to request changes in national school information data collection systems and continues to campaign for recognition for non-binary young people.
In addition to their individual actions, Ben and Sam have also worked together with a local food bank to raise awareness of the charity and fundraise with the community to support those in need. They now regularly volunteer their time there. And finally, Ben and Sam also worked with Amnesty International UK on their ‘Write for Rights’ campaign to support Gulzar Duishenova who is standing up for disability rights in Kyrgystan.
In doing this amazing work, Ben and Sam are the first pupils to have achieved all three ACTive Citizenship Awards for a learning action, a school action and a community action.
Amy and Nicole both aged 11 from the Hall Primary School in Leicester were concerned about litter in their school playground of which a considerable part were crisp packets. This led to the development of a project where they recycled crisp packets with a company that used the waste to create garden furniture. The company donates a penny per packet to a charity of the pupil’s choice and they chose a neo-natal unit at the local hospital. The pupils then wrote to the local council, church and businesses to persuade them to support the idea and become collection points. They collected over 25,000 crisp packets which they counted themselves (!), raising £250 for the hospital.
Pupils in year 3 (aged 7-8) at the Sir John Heron Primary School in London had been discussing a range of social issues with their teacher and decided as a class to take forward action to try to address homelessness in their community. The pupils researched the issue, and invited people from local homeless charities to come and speak with them; they led an assembly for children in their school about the cause and effects of homelessness in their community; and they wrote to their MP and the Mayor of London to share their concerns and made recommendations that changes be made to the school curriculum so that education about mental health and financial education are given much more prominence, something the Department for Education has recently started to address.