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20 July, 2012

Anne Fine, Mick Waters and Nick Hurd MP celebrate childrens citizenship learning

On Monday 16 July, children from six primary schools spoke up at the House of Lords to mark Go-Givers' fifth anniversary.

Go-Givers is the Citizenship Foundation's citizenship programme for primary schools. It supports the citizenship curriculum to help children develop into caring, responsible and empathic members of society.

Over 22,000 primary school teachers in England and 30,000 globally have registered to use its resources.

At the celebration, speakers addressed the question, ‘What role can children play in developing a caring and just society?'.

In answer, pupils showed us what they had been doing.

For example, at Kensington Primary School in Newham pupils have been running a campaign to renovate their local bridge. They enlisted the help of the local council and volunteer groups.

And at Mayville Primary School in Waltham Forest, pupils are campaigning against the use of bear fur in royal guardsmen's helmets. They marched alongside PETA last week for the faux fur movement.

Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, closed the event with a vision that connects the children's work to creating a more caring and generous society.

‘We think that too many people have lost their faith and their confidence in their ability to make a difference and we want to try and change that. That's a big change, and it's what's called a culture change.

And so we believe very strongly that if you're going to be serious about that you've got to start young. You've got to try and light the spark in young people at school, at primary school.'

As debates about Michael Gove's primary curriculum proposals continue, our speakers were clear about the importance of citizenship education.

Former Children's Laureate Anne Fine OBE echoed concerns about citizenship's future as a National Curriculum subject:

‘This is the one part of the curriculum that, for the sake of all of us in society, cannot be dumped for pressures of time'.

It is important to strive for excellence in subjects such as maths and English, they said, but this has to be in the context of students as members of society.

Rekha Bhakoo CBE is Headteacher of Newton Farm School in Harrow, the Top Performing Primary School in England (2011). She said:

‘Our relentless pursuit of excellence has to be underpinned by a curriculum which is not only robust in its teaching of basic skills, but also ensures that pupils' experiences are rich and diverse and memorable. And knowing that their voice matters; they can make a difference.

‘It is the job of schools to make sure that these children's voices are heard.

'Go-Givers is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for the children to express themselves'.

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