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29 June, 2011

Children taught citizenship skills are more likely to empathise and give to others, study shows

Children are often recipients of charity and social action, but they also have a great capacity to give themselves. A recent study suggests that cultivating their sense of social and moral responsibility increases the likelihood of them participating in society in the future.

Go-Givers, our flagship programme for primary school citizenship, has been evaluating its pupil outcomes for last year. It indicates that, in line with the government's Giving White Paper [pdf] and the Philanthropy Review's Charter [pdf], we are helping to build ‘a new generation of UK givers' and are paving the way for giving to become a social norm.

In our study, an average of 90% of pupils in each school class demonstrated a positive shift in one or more elements of understanding, thinking skills, attitudes or empathy related to giving and social participation.  In 96% of classes, teachers say that their Personal, Social, Health & Citizenship Education (PSHCE) learning objectives are achieved to a great extent by engaging with Go-Givers resources, even when trends are less clear in the pupil data.

Go-Givers used its newly designed age-appropriate methodology to conduct a pupil outcomes evaluative study for this academic year. The study uses data from 503 pupils aged 4 to 11 from 29 classes in 17 schools in Somerset and North Somerset.

Teachers selected a Go-Givers theme or topic of their choice aligned with their PSHCE curriculum. Pupils completed a mindmap before engaging with Go-Givers resources for one term, and then added to or amended their original mindmaps after completing the topic. Mindmaps were assessed qualitatively according to their own baseline and overall trends were observed for each class. Individual pupil mindmaps served as a powerful tool to visualise the value added by engagement with Go-Givers resources. See a sample of pupil mindmaps [pdf].

Teachers selected a spectrum of themes, topics or lessons connected to their whole school or year group curriculum, suggesting that Go-Givers is helping teachers achieve their curricular goals. Topics such as ‘feelings and friendship', ‘diversity and cohesion' and ‘giving' were popular at lower primary, while themes such as ‘rights and responsibilities', ‘equality and fairness', ‘anti-bullying' and ‘sustainability' featured more prominently for upper primary.

The evidence demonstrated by pupils, and the corresponding perceptions of their teachers, indicates that Go-Givers has been successful in developing:

  • more personal and collective declarations of caring;
  • understanding of the social consequences of disadvantage;
  • motivation to support and help others;
  • an adoption of attitudes that prefer to seek the common good rather than immediate personal benefit.

The full evaluation report [pdf] presents Go-Givers' contribution towards informing, inspiring and involving children to become capable citizens at an early age.


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