It was National Volunteer Day on Friday which not only presented an ideal opportunity to celebrate all the volunteers that help out at your school, but also a great chance to include some citizenship activities into your planning. If you missed this opportunity, however, including it in future planning is still definitely worthwhile. Although Citizenship is a non-statutory subject in Keys stages 1 & 2, it is statutory in Keys Stages 3 & 4, so the foundations laid during the primary years will have a great impact further on in the child’s school career. There is also the scope to plan some enjoyable and engaging activities that can draw together learning from many other subjects.
Public Figures of Safety
One objective from the Citizenship curriculum is to learn the rules for, and ways of, keeping safe, including basic road safety, and about people who can help them to stay safe. This can easily be explored during volunteer day, perhaps by getting a local special constable or even a retired school crossing patrol officer (lollipop lady or man, if we’re being old school) to come in and talk to the class. Many of the younger pupils will not fully understand the difference between paid work and volunteering, so class discussions could focus on that, whereas older pupils will be able to discuss how volunteering benefits communities as well as the person volunteering.
Regularity via Reading Schemes
A really simple way to include volunteering into your school is to set up a paired reading scheme. By encouraging peers to help each other read, you not only help improve literacy in your classroom, but also start children thinking about other’s needs and their responsibilities to meet those needs. The regularity of such schemes means that children have a consistent base upon which to develop citizenship skills, and this is a great starting point upon which further citizenship project and activities will benefit from.
Another way to incorporate citizenship into volunteer day is by planning a project that could benefit the school community. This covers many of the objectives in the framework and can help to foster a sense of team work, develop co-operative skills and generate a real sense of achievement in the class members. Identify a particular need that can be met. Younger pupils might select a project within the school, maybe gardening that needs doing, perhaps classrooms would benefit from window boxes, is there a wall that could do with livening up through a new display? The discussion could be guided by you based on available resources, but would then be planned by the children with support where necessary.
Older children might identify a need outside of the school, perhaps in the local community or even further afield, such as a charity they wish to support. Plan what needs to be done and set aside time to achieve the desired task. Rather than expecting parents to donate cakes for a bake sale, actually get the children to make something in class which they can sell, so that they are responsible for the creation and delivery of the product. They might need to advertise it, perhaps even work out budgets and go shopping. This sort of project can draw together learning from Maths, English, Business and Enterprise, Art or even DT and will give both a real sense of achievement and an deeper understanding of what goes into volunteering.