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Learning and Teaching should create Lifelong Learners who are Active Citizens:

Roles and Responsibilities



Thinking Skills

Learning to Learn

Teacher Self Evaluation

Roles and Responsibilities




Responsibility is the ability to consider the consequences of actions and to be able to accept such consequences following actions taken.  It is the need to know why; to seek the meaning in what is being learned.  Pupils need to be encouraged to adopt a mature attitude to roles and responsibilities they will encounter outwith school.  This area is a major focus in the National Priority relating to Citizenship.

Points Arising from Research


Pupils should become socially and morally responsible towards those in authority and each other, actively involved in the concerns of the community and aware of how to make themselves effective in public life through appropriate knowledge, skills and values. (Potter 2002)


Dangers of authoritarian schools are that pupils’ views are ignored and there is poor communication, over-strict rules and lack of pupil choice. (Osler and Starkey 1996)


Pupils are expected to have knowledge of their own rights, how to exercise them and an awareness of the diverse social background in which they live.


Education for Citizenship is a key part of the responsibility of every teacher and early education practitioner. It is part and parcel of every area of study and of all teaching and learning. (Education for Citizenship in Scotland:LTS 2002)


School should model the kind of society in which active citizenship is encouraged. (LTS 2002)

Key Elements of Roles and Responsibilities


Citizenship is part of the school curriculum preparing pupils for the roles and responsibilities of adulthood. This can include:


understanding the rights they have both as children and adults,


the part that they can play in their communities


the responsibilities they will have as adults.

Citizenship education involves;


equipping young people with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes they need to play a full part in the fast changing world in which they live


understanding about how the world works – from the local to the global – politically, economically and socially


thinking critically and creatively about what they see happening – including rights and responsibilities sustainable development, conflict resolution and interdependence.


being able to empathise with others


having a sense of fair play, a respect for diversity and concern for the future.


giving pupils opportunities for participation,  as when young people see that they can help to bring about change they  feel included in processes

Schools may do this through:


the content of their teaching, and most significantly, the way in which it is taught


the connections they are able to make between apparently disparate areas of study and young people's social and community experience


their relationships with young people and readiness to listen to and take account of young people's views.

School Councils


A School Council is an ideal opportunity for pupils to get more involved in the way a school is run.


It is made up in a number of different ways but usually has representatives from each class or year, who have to be voted in by other pupils.


It is the responsibility of all councillors to ensure that they express both their own views and the views of all the other pupils they represent.


Providing opportunities for pupils to communicate their feelings to teachers and staff will benefit the whole school, pupils and teachers.


Pupils also have the opportunity to influence decisions that are made, and to develop skills such as confidence, communication and negotiation.


In particular, pupils can be encouraged to comment on Learning and Teaching issues through their councils

Teacher values

As teachers accept responsibility for the education of children, so they need to accept responsibility for making sincere, transparent, systematic and convincing efforts to try to live their values out as fully as possible in their teaching.

For example teachers may dominate the classroom discourse by talking too much, despite saying they value facilitating pupil discussion. They may say they want to give all pupils an equal amount of time and then find themselves concentrating on those who demand most of the attention.

Reflection and Discussion

Are pupils in your school encouraged to take an active part in the running of the school?

How should we deal with pupil advice/requests which are deemed inappropriate?

How can we make clear to pupils that their wishes/ideas are being acted on?

Some Activities Relating To the Issue of Roles and Responsibilities

Key element




Some examples and suggestions


Understand the rights they have both as children and adults, the part that they can play in their communities and the responsibilities they will have as adults In S1, for instance, a personal and Social Education insert on social inclusion could encompass consideration of children's rights, and learning about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and children's rights under Scots law.


Understand the part that they can play in their communities Examine the opportunities for your school to be involved in their local community through voluntary work

Schools Councils

Provide opportunities for pupils to communicate their feelings to teachers and staff which will benefit whole school, pupils and teachers. Two pupil representatives are elected for a one-year term of office in each Primary 3-7 class.  Each week all classes hold their own class council attended by all class members, whilst the pupil representatives meet with the head teacher three or four times a term.  Class representatives conduct class council meetings, with support from their class teacher.  At the representatives' meeting with the head teacher, which is chaired by a pupil council member, items are discussed and decisions made.

Teacher values

Teachers need to accept responsibility for making sincere, transparent, systematic and convincing efforts to try to live their values out as fully as possible in their teaching
Conduct a survey of pupil opinion on teachers’ attitudes.  Do they think it is a case of “Do as I say - not as I do”?  If this is their perception, how can we adapt to take account of this?  Should we? 

Selected References

Further Reading

Carter, C. (2002) Schools Ethos and the Construction of Masculine Identity: Do Schools Create, Condone and Sustain Aggression?  Educational Review, Vol.54, No. 1, pp 27-36.

Deuchar, R. (2003) Preparing Tomorrow’s People – The New Challenges Of Citizenship Education For Involving Scottish Pupils And Teachers In Participative Decision-Making Processes. Scottish Educational review, Vol.35 No. 1

Gearon, L. (2000) Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School Routledge

Learning and Teaching Scotland (2002) Education for Citizenship in Scotland - A Paper for Discussion and Development. Dundee: LT Scotland

Osler, A. & Starkey, H. (1996) Teacher Education and Human Rights. London: David Fulton

Potter, J. (2002) Active Citizenship in Schools. London: Kogan Page 


Learning and Teaching Scotland have a website to support education professionals and others implementing the LTScotland paper ‘Education for Citizenship in Scotland’  www.ltscotland.org.uk/citizenship - many relevant resources and links for teachers in Scotland.

A CD-ROM and web resource on race equality and anti-racism within the curriculum and wider life of schools. (Scottish Executive, LT Scotland, CERES, City of Edinburgh Council, 2003)

Highland One World Group. This site is intended for teachers, headteachers and others with a responsibility for planning the curriculum in Highland primary and secondary schools.

www.ncb.org.uk (National Children’s Bureau) Promotes the interests and well-being of all children and young people across every aspect of their lives. This site includes relevant research and resources

www.oxfam.org.uk (Oxfam) Lots of detailed resources and information on global citizenship. Also can provide a speaker

www.salvationarmy.org.uk /schools (Salvation Army) Provides speakers on the life and times of William Booth (founder) and homelessness

(Save the Children Fund) Working to create a better future for children. This site includes information on children whose education has been disrupted by conflict. Also contains details of free speakers who come into schools.

www.unicef.org (Unicef) Information on child health, nutrition and labour including resources and statistics


Last updated 20/08/2010
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