Active Participation

Education should give pupils the chance to exercise real responsibility and to make an impact on their school and Community. Citizenship teaching, building on the curriculum, has the power to transform the lives of pupils in areas that many people have written off. David Blunkett, 2000

Northern Ireland

Education for Reconciliation Project Education for Reconciliation Project“On Track” A Handbook for Citizenship Education TeachersFurther information available from the Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) website
Impetus What are we trying to achieve?
To encourage young people to explore what our shared values are – and should be – and to help them develop the confidence and courage to put those values into practice in their communities.The achievements of several Northern Irish Citizenship projects were recognised at a ceremony in the Calgagh Centre, Derry, including:

  • IMPETUS Showcase Presentation – Stranmillis Primary School
A Scottish Case study
Kilbowie Primary School, Clydebank, Scotland Kilbowie Primary School’s project was organised and managed by the pupil council in the school. The motto of Kilbowie pupil council is ‘They do make a difference’.The pupils in Kilbowie are very clear as to the reason the school has a pupil council – their justification is based on Article 10 of the Human Rights Act:

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

The pupil council came up with the idea that it would help learning and concentration if pupils were allowed to have water to drink throughout the day. This suggestion was put to the senior management team of the school, and it was agreed that it would be necessary to consult pupils, staff and parents.

As this was a pilot scheme, the pupil council decided it would be sensible and practical to start with Primary 7. Questionnaires were put together and issued to all pupils in P7 and their parents, and to all members of staff.

There was an overwhelming response in favour of ‘water at work’. However, it was agreed that there would have to be some conditions. Another discussion took place and the following agreement was reached:

  • the bottle must be see-through
  • it must be plastic
  • the top must not leak
  • you must put it back in the tray when you are told
  • it must be filled at home

It was agreed that P7 would pilot the project and would be allowed to have water at work, if they wished it, for a three month trial period. In order to be allowed to participate in the pilot, a pupil had to apply for a water licence.

Throughout the trial period, the pupil council monitored the project by checking that the privilege of having water was not being abused. They also prepared a survey to check on pupils’ views as to how it was going. Most pupils viewed it as a great success because the water helped them:

  • to concentrate
  • to cool down
  • to work better
  • to be healthy

Teachers noted that most pupils had got a water licence and that it was now considered to be a right of P7 pupils. This led to class discussion about rights and responsibilities. Whilst recognising that it was a right to have water, they agreed that with this right came some responsibilities – the need to abide by the rules of the licence. It was also noted that no pupil had his/her licence removed during the trial period.

The pupil council met again to decide how to take the project further – into the local community. Various suggestions had been made but it was the pupil council itself which came up with the idea of a consultation with local businesses on their knowledge and use of ‘water at work’.

Another survey was drawn up and issued. Results indicated that very few businesses allowed their staff access to water at work. The pupil council decided that as this was due to lack of knowledge of the value of ‘water at work’, it should invite managers into the school for a presentation, which they did.

In evaluating this innovative project, the local LVP felt strongly that it had met all four of the criteria. The concept of rights with responsibilities had been explored. The whole school had been involved, and there had been engagement with the local community.

Public Achievement – Public Achievement recognises the creative capacity of individuals of all ages to actively participate in the civic life of their communities and in the building of a more just, peaceful, democratic and pluralist society.

This is done by supporting small groups of young people – and adult volunteer ‘coaches’ who work with them – in addressing issues that are important and around which they design, carry out and evaluate their own projects. In the process, they learn skills of active citizenship and democracy.

St Columb’s Park House: Action Projects –
Verbal Arts Centre – See Me See You Post Primary

See me See You is a community relations programme for schools. The programme uses creative methods to explore difficult issues using areas and targets within the curriculum.

See Me See You Primary
This programme uses listening and talking role play and visual stimulus to look at individual identity, becoming part of a group, interacting with others and acceptance of difference.This programme is aimed at children in Key Stage 3.
The materials are suitable for use across all ability levels and look at personal identity, grouping, labeling in groups, symbols and flags.
The activities introduce factual information relating to political party’s religious groups and cultural groups.
This programme uses games, stories, role-play and practical exercises as triggers for discussion of sensitive topics.


10 young people from across Northern Ireland were recruited in July 2004 to develop an interactive website run by and for young people aiming to inspire and empower young people in Northern Ireland, giving them a voice in the decisions that affect all our lives, trying to get young people talking and influencing politicians and public representatives.WIMPS (Where Is My Public Servant) was the product of these young people’s ideas, hopes and aspirations – it is a website with a vision; to provide young people with easy and instant access to clear information that allows them to take action on issues that are important to them.

The site has a database of all public representatives in Northern Ireland searchable by using your postcode to identify all your representatives from local Council to European Parliament level. Users can then click on a button to send emails to these representatives about the issues they are interested in.
Young people will update the site on a daily basis with articles and information about a range of issues of interest for young people, and reports on projects and issues that groups of young people are working on. Young people all over Northern Ireland can also contact the site to receive direction and advice in how to take action on community issues that affect them and that they feel strongly about.

To be a website that helps create real relationships between young people and the decision makers who influence their lives.
A website that is informative, inspiring, un-biased and accessible to everyone; creating, sustaining and multiplying educated and empowered young people as a significant force for good in Northern Ireland.

WIMPS is about young people being heard and taking action, that means that ANY young person who wants to be taken seriously can join us in the work we are trying to do. So if you want to get involved in any way at all, surf the WIMPS site, see what you think and then contact us and join our team!


The Association of CSPE TEachers (ACT) –


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Active Participation – National Service Learning Partnership
Service-learning is a teaching method that engages young people in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies or other type of intentional learning activity.Service-learning helps students master important curriculum content by supporting their making meaningful connections between what they are studying and its many applications. Service-learning also helps young people develop a range of service skills, from acts of kindness and caring, to community stewardship, to civic action.
Service-Learning in Higher Education (2005)
Dan W. Butin. Published by Palgrave Macmillan
Abstract: Service-Learning in Higher Education critically examines the assumptions and implications of service-learning and offers exemplary models of practice and scholarship. It:

  • explores the limits and possibilities of teaching for social justice;
  • it examines paramount issues of institutionalization;
  • and it investigates issues of student resistance, student voice, and contested issues around race, class, and gender.

Transformational models across the humanities and social sciences arepresented and new directions for the future of service-learning are explored. By bringing together rising scholars and established expertsin the field, this book offers an essential and state-of-the-art examination of the service-learning field in higher education.