Tags: Active learning | Case study | Citizenship and PSHE | Classroom Teacher | Developing Citizenship Project | Equality | PSHE & Citizenship Coordinator | Teaching & Learning Coordinator
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At Hethersett we chose to focus on a Black Achievement Festival to coincide with Black History Month.

The aim of Black History Month is to enable all people to be aware of and enjoy the achievements and contributions that black people have made to Britain and the world. Our festival aimed to: 

  • Enable our students and teachers to learn about other countries and cultures directly from people whose cultural heritage is rooted in countries of the south – Africa, Asia or the Americas.
  • Develop global citizenship by showing the interdependence of our world, addressing local/global sustainable development issues, promoting multicultural awareness and fostering anti-racist attitudes.

In an area such as Norfolk with a small ethnic minority population – less than 3.7% recorded in the last census – this is a rare opportunity for our students and teachers to meet and learn from people with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.

Planning

Planning a Black Achievement Festival involves a month of activities which reach all year groups across the whole curriculum – through assemblies as well as lessons. The cunning and sneaky plan is to enthuse students and staff alike into enjoying and gaining from this new perspective so much that they begin to look at their learning and experiences in life with an added insight and richness. It is then but a small step to get the learning and teaching activity into print and into schemes of work of departments.

1. Staff/curriculum

At Hethersett High School, Citizenship is delivered across the curriculum through subject areas. In order to make this effective and not just another tick box, we launched the Developing Citizenship Project to the whole staff at a twilight INSET session. The aim was to inform and to show by way of example and discovery, that all areas of the curriculum can easily make contributions.

This proved to be extremely successful in several ways: 

  1. The aims of the project were clearly understood.
  2. Subject areas discovered many ways in which they could contribute towards global citizenship.
  3. Subject areas practically competed to include these ideas in their schemes of work and lesson planning.
  4. Healthy discussion and debate continued and continues, surrounding the whole issue of racism.

The need for staff INSETon race awareness became obvious – and needs to be addressed in the future – as a direct result of the Project’s introduction.

The October programme was directed by two members of staff and was highly effective across the curriculum and through assemblies (as evidenced in a diary kept for Sept-Nov 2003, assemblies and lessons across the curriculum contributed to aspects of global awareness).

The Festival of 21 October 2003 (workshops of music, dance, arts, sport, discussion, The Trading Game, etc, run by visiting artists) was a runaway success. However, staff INSET, involvement and preparation is paramount.

As with any mixed ability class:

Do:

  • Appeal to the intellect with intellectually rigorous arguments and reasons for the exercise (engage the trouble-makers!)
  • Involve staff in an ‘activity’ which is FUN, taxing, thought-provoking, controversial and doesn’t seem like ‘work’
  • Summarise their findings – say it again – then repeat it
  • Offer examples, and purchaseable resources (which you just happen to have at the back of the room!)
  • Welcome staff suggestions/thoughts/arguments/problems etc.

Don’t:

  • Deluge staff with a rainstorm of handouts
  • Slap on OHP after OHP and read them out loud
  • Request a written reply by such and such a date.

Positives

  • Of particular note was the staff/visitors interaction in the staff room at breaks and lunchtime, staff wanting to help on the day, and staff discussions/debates on workshops they had attended.
  • Involve SMT in workshops. (Documentary evidence in the form of Dept. Development Plans, SoW, and the School Improvement Plan should be forthcoming with staff evaluation awaiting to be completed in immediate future.)

Negatives

  • We learned that the press want it handed to them on a plate (write up and photos) otherwise they are not really interested. This needs preparation in advance!
  • The Headteacher needs reminding of activities – and again when reporting to Governors. Governors need to be informed/invited officially. Parents need to be informed of special events.
  • With a turnover of staff (considerable) the lack of a whole school awareness raising session prior to Year 2, whole school impact of the second Festival Day was lessened.

Sustainability?

If Global citizenship can get into print – school data reviews, Dept. Plans and School Improvement Plans – half the battle is won. It then remains to be followed through effectively.

Achievements?

If the printed word can be followed through with action and followed through effectively, then the aims of delivering global citizenship have been successful.

2. Students/curriculum

We chose to focus on Black History Month across the whole school through assemblies and visiting speakers. We also chose to focus on Year 9 for a day off timetable when we held a Black Achievement Festival. This brought into school activities as diverse as music, sport, food, debate and discussion in the form of workshops run by visiting guests.

The follow-up student evaluation was just as valuable and important as the Festival Day itself. It was very time-consuming (the originally planned 1 hour turned into 3 hours). Student products ranged from posters and letters to powerpoint presentations and assemblies delivered to other year groups.

The Black Achievement Festival Day was our response to Citizenship – an attempt to make Global Citizenship effective. It was our attempt to put some real meaning into Citizenship as a global responsibility.

“To learn what it is to be a global citizen and what it means to take that responsibility seriously.”

Participation

Student participation in the Festival Days was superb – notably the ‘disaffected’ students were totally engaged and the most motivated students were spurred into pursuing their particular interests. For example, some Duke of Edinburgh students have taken on a project involving the recycling of mobile phones (and the whole background of the production of mobile phones). Student Council members are campaigning for Fair Trade products in the canteen and in snack machines.

Students from the first year’s Festival were involved as ‘helpers’ in year two workshops. The list of their suggestions was amazing.

For example:

  • We would like to organise the day next year.
  • We need to have the video camera ‘on charge’ during lunch break so it does not run out of power before the end of the day.
  • Participating students need an assembly of introduction to the various workshops on offer before the day so they know what they are coming to.

In retrospect, obvious comments!

It was excellent to have cross year groups working together. Year 10 were ‘helpers’ and were seen as experts by the participating Year 9. Year 9 devised assemblies which they delivered to Year 8 (one even involved year 10 members, so almost whole school delivery!).

Evaluation and feedback

School Council members have taken on board experiences from the Festival Day and individual subject focus lessons as well as whole day experiences at the Conference Day at the University of East Anglia to instigate a focus for change at Heathersett. These desired changes are the subject of the next initiative. The continuing work and sustainability remains to be seen as they are ongoing, but action letters / plans provided on the day at UEA have given the students hope that “we are going to do it, aren’t we, Miss? You have still got the letters haven’t you? When are we meeting to sort it?”

Student evaluations of the Festival Day were impressive, ranging from comments like: 

  • “I didn’t know that in Zimbabwe, his most precious possession is the same as mine! My walkman!”  
  • “Did you know the rule of thumb about your face?”
  • “I can tell a story with my hands, do you want to see?”

Lunch break activity of students attempting Capoera movements elicited endless conversations. The sounds of unusual drumming from the music room at lunchtime caused mass student gatherings at all available windows.

Individual lessons in the curriculum have been enhanced with a different and new perspective – e.g. Food Technology, P.E. and R.E. As a result of the Developing Citizenship Project, the groundwork for staff awareness and involvement is in place but needs to be reinforced annually.

Student awareness and involvement is excellent (through the grapevine mostly) and needs to be maintained.

As long as both teachers and students see a positive and enjoyable benefit from any aspect of global citizenship, it will succeed.

The benefits for both students and staff will be evidenced in the knowledge they have as a citizen of the world with responsibilities for the world.

This work © Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK and UNICEF (UK), 2007. Part of the Developing Citizenship project.

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