Our Global Citizenship Day was a June event for Year 8s as a follow up to the unit of work they had done on Global Citizenship earlier in the year.
All Year 8 pupils were taken off timetable and were given the choice of two workshops from:
- African cookery
- mask making
- jewellery making
- story telling
- Banghra dancing
- IT project
- research project.
The pupils went to their two workshops in the morning. In the afternoon a whole year assembly was held, allowing different groups of pupils to share their experiences with the rest of the year.
We originally wanted to celebrate ‘Commonwealth Day’ as a whole school initiative, however we realised that perhaps we were being over ambitious at this stage, so we decided to target a single year group. We discounted Year 7 (too new) and Years 10 and 11 (examination time). It was decided that Year 8 could well be more receptive than Year 9 students.
The date by which we received information from the Commonwealth Institute did not allow us time to organise the day. This resulted in us delaying from March to June and calling it Global Citizenship Day. This was advantageous, as it enabled us not only to include performers from around the globe, rather than restricting ourselves to Commonwealth performers, but also reduced the need for additional staff cover, as the June date was during the exam period.
Opportunities and concerns
The activity day was both to promote global citizenship as a fun and exciting topic thereby improving student motivation, as well as to consolidate work from the earlier citizenship module.
The workshops helped with the school’s strategic development plans to introduce more flexible learning packages. The project’s continued impact has also enabled students to become independent learners, another target of the school development plan.
Although racism is not an endemic problem in the school, some of the pupils have attitudes that show ignorance and a lack of empathy concerning groups such as refugees. The guest performers were excellent role models for our minority students and presented a very positive image which the majority really appreciated.
Another feature of the project was that it provided an opportunity to map citizenship across the curriculum in a basic audit, allowing staff to identify topics where citizenship could be integrated within subject areas.
We were fortunate in that our headteacher is very supportive of new initiatives and activities that promote the pupils’ positive experience of education. This meant that we did not have to spend a great deal of time or energy persuading senior management that our project would be an excellent way of improving pupil attitudes.
Support from the Developing Citizenship Project
If there had been a problem in convincing our senior management team, then I am sure that the Developing Citizenship Project personnel with their persuasive powers would have helped.
The funding for the Project undoubtedly helped secure the services of external performers. Without such funding we may not have been able to afford them. It is worth noting that due to the success of the day, our head teacher has said that funding will be found for this to be an annual event in the foreseeable future.
However, the most helpful part of the Developing Citizenship Project in the implementation of our day, was the vast array of contacts that we were provided with through NEAD. This enabled us to choose our activities from a wide variety of performers.
We eventually decided on a group of performers (storytellers, dancers, cookery experts and clay modellers) from Heritage Ceramics in Hackney. In addition we invited a Bhangra dance instructor. Sandy from NEAD also came into school to run his version of the trading game.
We also had pupils, supported by regular staff, researching the various activities and recording their results on powerpoint displays. These were illustrated by photographs taken by groups of students using the school’s set of digital cameras. The research groups and photography groups were swapped over at the change of session. The pupils in this case were very much independent learners with staff merely involved in advising on the ICT and checking that pupils with cameras were acting sensibly (which they did).
We found that the external performers / speakers gave an added impetus to the pupils. We feel that if regular staff had tried to deliver the sessions, they would not have been so effective.
Pupils really enjoyed the day. Out of over 100 evaluations, only one produced a negative response. Even pupils who had originally said, “I didn’t sign up for that / this wasn’t my first choice”, enjoyed themselves. Relationships between pupils and performers were excellent, a very good rapport. Since most of our performers were from ethnic minorities this provided a welcome meeting of different cultures, something that inner city pupils like ours seem to avoid in their usual situations.
Resources and preparation
The external performers were expensive as we had to pay for travel costs as well as fees. The average was between £220 and £250 per person. Materials such as the clay and food also had to be purchased, however the workshop people did bring the required items with them rather than giving us a shopping list, which may have contained some rather obscure (for Ipswich) items.
We had to book the largest computer room and food technology rooms for the morning, as well as ensuring that the drama area was ready for the Bhangra dancing and the afternoon meeting. We also arranged for a projector screen to be set up in the drama area to give immediate feedback on the day using the pupils’ presentations.
The canteen had to be made aware that extra meals would be required at lunchtime for the additional guests.
The deputy head in charge of cover was contacted well in advance for the request for staff cover. Cover was provided by staff released from teaching both Year 8 and Year 11.
The pupils seemed extremely well-motivated by the experience. Pupils were asked to complete a review sheet for comments on the day. All but one were extremely positive, generally identifying the day as an enjoyable and valuable experience.
The day was timetabled to be repeated in 2005 and the Head has promised to help us find funding. Long-term benefits to the school include the link to external resources (such as the Banghra dancers and workshops provided through Tony Ogogo at Heritage Ceramics). These have led to the possibility of other links, such as with schools in the Birmingham area, which could be explored.
The day itself helped to raise the profile of citizenship education throughout the school and has enhanced the global citizenship scheme of work in Year 8. We were overwhelmed by the positive comments from pupils – these far exceeded our expectations.
Pitfalls, challenges, blockages
Despite feeling relatively well organised, time, or rather lack of it was the biggest challenge. Most items seemed to take longer to organise than expected. All agencies we contacted were helpful, however it always seemed as if school requests were left toward the bottom of the in tray.
Staff at school were generally positive, however on the citizenship day itself some staff still appeared unaware that it was a special day. Several complained that they had not been informed. This was despite announcements in briefings, assemblies and the school weekly diary of events circulated in staff pigeonholes.
On the planning side, some of our guest speakers were difficult to contact, especially those who could only be contacted by mobile phone, which was often not switched on. This added to the concern when other project schools reported that some of their external speakers had failed to appear.
We felt it was helpful to hold the event during an examination period as this meant that cover was much easier to provide. We would also recommend selecting a date for the event well in advance, as many of the external performers have quite full diaries (a good sign).
The event needs advertising, both a long way in advance as well as closer to the event, as a number of staff still seemed unaware of what we were trying to do. The pupils seemed much more switched on than some staff.
We were really pleased with all our external performers. All were really professional and enthusiastic, so much so that regular teaching staff in the rooms were able to enjoy the events rather than be concerned with pupil behaviour. With improved liason with the guests we could perhaps have made some of the workshops more of a learning experience, for example in the African cooking, some flip cards spelling the names of the exotic fruit and vegetables would have helped the pupils visualise the names a little more easily.
With additional time to plan for our next event, we will endeavour to use some more local performers, which would have the dual advantage of fostering local links as well as reducing travel expenses and therefore costs.
We are fortunate in that the examination hall is remote from most of the remaining school buildings so that any noise developed would not interfere with the external exams. We have a drama suite which isolated the noise of the Banghra drum from everywhere but the dining room. The examination period provided flexibility in the accommodation that would not be possible at other times of the year.
Despite all our efforts, it seemed as if some staff really were unaware of what was going on and so the INSET activities suggested by the project would be a way of ensuring all staff are fully consious of the event. Heads of subject had been helpful about identifying links and aspects in their curricula which raised global citizenship awareness, however this was on a rather ad-hoc basis. In an ideal world with less demand on staff time, INSET time to work on mapping the links in detail would be preferable.
Policy development and practice
The opportunity provided by the project for staff from different schools to network both within the same Suffolk and Norfolk area as well as across the country, has been invaluable. It has helped us to get ideas of how to develop global citizenship within our own school and has enabled us to learn from other schools. With different schools running events at different times, the opportunity to feedback and hear about the success of other events has been very useful, helping us to avoid many of the pitfalls. This was certainly a benefit when planning our own event.
The opportunity to network and meet other teachers in a relaxed environment is a rare privilege in our profession. We felt this was particularly helpful in developing our school policy and in planning our Citizenship Day, but also as a way of informing our own personal development in the provision of Global Citizenship within our school. As well as the interaction with other teachers, it has also fostered links with NEAD and other agencies such as Oxfam, UNICEF and Save the Children. Not only do we have faces to put to names when contacting these organisations, we also have been provided with excellent sources of teaching materials.
The conference organised at UEA also provided an impetus to the project and has given the opportunity to make lasting changes at the school through pupil involvement on issues about which they feel strongly. Again this provided additional opportunities to hear from the different schools about how the project has impacted upon them.
The link with NEAD has been particularly helpful. NEAD has provided many useful contacts and links both on paper and on line through email addresses and weblinks. NEAD has also been a source of value for money teaching resources for global citizenship.
The email links are an excellent method of networking and one that could be built on to provide a lasting network resource.
The benefits of the networking opportunities are quite subjective and therefore difficult to measure. They have definitely improved the pupil experience by providing us with new sources of resources and a forum for ideas, as well as helping rejuvenate tired colleagues. We came away not only with shared experiences but also with a sense of well-being, and hopes for the future.