The Role of Citizenship in Local Communities
What is active citizenship within communities?
Active citizenship is about taking an active role in community life and making a positive contribution to society. While community and citizenship mean different things to different people or organisations (depending on, for example, their perspectives, belief systems or circumstances), there are some common characteristics that most people would agree on. These include a shared identity, a common vision, a sense of belonging, strong positive relationships, and acting to ensure equity and equality for all.
How is citizenship explored within education?
In the early 2000s, following the Crick Report in 1998, citizenship was introduced into the National Curriculum for secondary school pupils, with the intent to ensure that children develop as successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society.
The citizenship curriculum aims to develop students’ ability to participate in communities and wider society as informed, critical and responsible citizens. This includes understanding the key skills that children and young people need to be good active citizens within their communities (critical thinking and enquiry, advocacy and representation, taking informed and responsible action) and the concepts that underpin these skills (such as democracy, justice, rights and responsibilities, identities and diversity).
The Big Lottery Fund recently assessed the importance of citizenship skills and education for young people, observing: “Young people (that) engage in decision-making, support their community and environment, engage in law-abiding and positive behaviour in and out of school, (will) develop positive relationships, choose not to bully and discriminate, develop self-confidence, successfully deal with significant life changes and challenges and develop enterprising behaviour.”
How can people get involved in active citizenship?
While statutory education has a remit to lay the foundations of young people’s citizenship skills and attributes, there is a role for wider society to play in encouraging and supporting people, particularly younger people, to be active citizens. This is central within the government’s civil society agenda (previously known as the Big Society agenda under the 2010-2015 coalition government).
There are many approaches that central government, local government and local community partners can encourage to foster a greater level of active citizenship with local communities. For example:
- Encouraging and supporting young people to engage in the National Citizen Service (NCS), a national programme for 15-17 year olds focused on adventure, discovery and social action*
- Encouraging people to volunteer with local community organisations, helping people to build their skills for future life
- Schools working more closely with local community groups to showcase the value of active citizenship in context
- Local government supporting local charities to promote their work and opportunities for involvement with local communities
- Successful young people, with demonstrable citizenship skills and attributes, encouraging and mentoring their peers.
*The NCS is due to be re-commissioned in Autumn/Winter 2018, and Seetec intends to bid to become a Regional Delivery Partner. If you are interested in working with us to deliver NCS, please register on our partnership portal and submit an expression of interest, or contact us on 01702 201070 for more information