Citizenship is formally studied at St Mary’s during the PSHE sessions which run once a week. The aim of our Citizenship course is firstly to introduce our students to the concept that they are part of a wider community. They are taught that there is an existing democratic frame work in our British Society, where dialogue and tolerance are encouraged. Students are actively encouraged to participate and engage with all aspects of school life. Being an active member of the school community facilitates the students understanding of the role of good citizenship in the wider community and the world around us.
St Mary’s holds an election for student councillors each year, giving each form class the opportunity to vote for two students to represent their form. The student council meets regularly throughout the year and has given the students a valuable input into the everyday running of the school. We are planning a trip to the Houses of Parliament to thank school councillors for their service at the end of the year.
Below is a brief overview of the Citizenship sessions:
Students are formally introduced to the concept of Citizenship. Students learn about Human Rights and how they have come about and they will then look at how these Human Rights are being denied. Importantly, the students will get a chance to appreciate some of the Human Rights that we take for granted in the UK in relation to other parts of the world. Students will also be introduced to Politics and its role in society and importantly what they can do to participate.
The students understanding of politics will be further developed in year 8. The concept of Human Rights is further explored, but will also bring in the concept of responsibility, with the aim of leading students to view the importance of others and how we as individuals have a responsibility towards others. In turn, this makes students more aware of the dangers of radicalisation, and its impact on democracy. The students will start to be introduced to environmental issues and be made more aware of our impact on our world. A more detailed look at the Holocaust and its implications as well as looking at the relationship of Britain with the rest of the world will also be covered.
The students build further on their study into Politics in year 9. Students will be encouraged to take a more active interest in current affairs and what is happening in the society around us. Students will be given a more practical session from Herts Homeless, exposing them to the poverty in our own county, but also giving them opportunities to make a contribution to their local community.
Students will take a further look at Britain and its relationship with the rest of the world. They will also look at Britain as a multi-cultural society and the importance of engaging all groups within our society. As a catholic community, we are encouraged to look out and engage with society around us rather than becoming enclosed and focused only on ourselves. Some of the key concepts of Law and Order will be introduced as well as a session on crime and punishment. The Holocaust will again be looked at, reinforcing the need for a tolerant society. We have an external speaker talking about mission and aid to other countries, with a particular focus on South Africa and the struggles children have entering education. Importantly the students are given examples of how we as a society can help. Environmental and Political issues are also examined in their own individual sessions.
The students conclude their politics studies in y11 and there is a particular focus on being an active voter and ensuring that they are informed about the national debate. Students are challenged with sessions on being Christians in the modern world and the role of Evangelisation in their own lives and that of society around them. We have an external speaker from SPUC coming in to talk to the students about the issue of abortion and the politics around it.
There are no formal citizenship sessions for the sixth form. The students are encouraged to be leaders in the school community and there are various roles and responsibilities which are allocated to most of the students in the sixth form. These can include mentoring younger students, breaktime duties, prefect duties or offering their own time just to help with events or individual staff members. Students are encouraged and rewarded for their endeavours with community service stamps.