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11 March, 2008

The Role of Workplaces in Citizenship

The Citizenship Foundation welcomes the focus from Lord Goldsmith in 'Citizenship: Our Common Bond' on the role of the workplace in effective citizenship.

Through building 'twinning' relationships between schools and local businesses, the Citizenship Foundation has developed initiatives that create partnerships for educational delivery between schools and employee volunteers. This provides a fantastic opportunity to deliver the Citizenship curriculum through a well-supported framework.

The Citizenship Foundation runs a number of employee engagement programmes for corporate volunteers around core areas of the Citizenship Curriculum: Law and Economics. These allow volunteers from both the legal and the financial services sector to engage with young people in areas which they have an interest in and experience of, giving them the opportunity to interact with young people from a range of backgrounds in their local community while delivering a fun and exciting way for students to think critically about how the law or economics applies in an everyday context.

The two national legal mock trials operated by the Citizenship Foundation are supported by a volunteer network of over 800 magistrates and 200 barristers, judges and court staff. The Bar National Mock Trial and the Magistrate’s Court Mock Trial have been running for 18 years and 14 years respectively, and are hugely popular with schools. They also provide a way for magistrates, barristers, lawyers and MPs to engage with young people around the justice system in a positive way.

Lawyers in Schools Twinning Scheme

The Lawyers in Schools Twinning Scheme puts practicing lawyers and trainee lawyers into the classroom, to work with young people to develop their awareness and understanding of the law. The lawyers are fully trained and use specially written materials in order to work with the young people. These cover issues such as discrimination, consumer law, employment law, human rights and youth justice. The sessions take place during normal class time at the convenience of both the school and the lawyers, and can be tailored to fit around what the students are working on currently.

The benefits of participating in the scheme are two-fold with both the school and the volunteers developing news skills and encountering a new environment through the sessions. Participating in the Twinning Scheme provides a number of opportunities for the firm including developing the firms’ community involvement programmes, providing a volunteering opportunity that draws on the core skills and knowledge of the lawyers and legal trainees and developing volunteers’ skills of presentation, confidence and critical thinking. It can be built into the firms training programme and offer a unique package to trainees, and can help to embed a CSR and community ethos into the firm, especially in trainees.

Paying For It: an economic citizenship programme in partnership with Norwich Union

Paying For It is a new schools programme designed to support and enrich citizenship teaching around economics and finance. It comprises four key elements: a programme twinning Norwich Union volunteers with schools, regional workshops, a website, and the national 'Chance to be Chancellor' competition.

Secondary schools are being twinned with local Norwich Union offices in 12 key areas in the UK including London, York, Norwich, Perth and Worthing. Employee volunteers will be using especially prepared resources created by the Citizenship Foundation to work with groups of students on economic citizenship topics in eight key areas: environment, transport, world issues, crime, health, public spending, giving and money. The programme uses the expertise and skills of the Norwich Union volunteers and of the Citizenship Foundation to work with schools and young people (often in more challenging schools) to provide a unique educational experience.

At the end of the 2008 academic year, students from participating schools will come together for a day of critical thinking and debate with a panel of local experts including MP’s, local councillors, community members and Norwich Union staff.

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