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New civics education resources have been developed as part of the School Leavers’ Toolkit to help prepare young people for life beyond school.

Maria is the national facilitator for subject association Aotearoa Social Studies Educators’ Network, which has been included in consultations about the development of the resources since the beginning.

The resources have been developed by the Ministry of Education in consultation with the sector as part of the School Leavers’ Toolkit, which is designed to help young people transition into adulthood with confidence.

“This is a really significant piece of work the Ministry has funded; we’re really pleased that we’ve been involved and we’re pleased with the quality of the product that is going out,” says Maria.

Civics and citizenship education is already well embedded in the principles and values of The New Zealand Curriculum as well as in the Social Studies learning area.

“I think this particular resource is necessary because it actually brings those things together for teachers in a way that hasn’t been done before,” she says.

“It’s quite empowering – teachers can approach this in ways that are really meaningful and authentic.”

Evidence-based approaches

Maria says the resource provides excellent evidence-based approaches for teaching and learning civics and citizenship education that can be used in both specialist and non-specialist subjects.

“One thing that it does really well is that it deals with issues that are relevant today,” she says.

She points to an example involving pōhutukawa trees in Takapuna that highlights the importance of decision-making around use of land and resources.

“There’s some really rich learning there, and importantly, young people can get involved in those decision-making processes – it’s not just something that has to happen to them; it’s actually something that they can have a voice about, especially if it’s happening in their local area.”

Also included in the suite of resources are:

  • a teaching and learning guide that covers themes such as Te Tiriti o Waitangi, global citizenship and explores strategies to discuss controversial issues with your students.
  • learning activities that explore what living in a democracy means and informs students about their rights as citizens. Students can also learn skills such as how to activate change and navigate diversity and conflict through these activities among other skills.
  • a curriculum approaches table to support understanding of what learning has been covered in earlier programmes and provide a springboard to create learning programmes that can be used at all levels.

With a national election fast approaching, the resource is bound to resonate with students.

“The idea is that they will be able to build their citizenship skills so that participating in our democracy becomes a lifelong habit – not just at a national level, but at a local level, too,” says Maria.

Young people who are engaged in civics education are more likely to vote in the future and the skills they learn will contribute to future accountability and transparency in government and media (including social media).

Civics education can help build students’ skills surrounding community engagement, public speaking and effective communication with democratic institutions.

Maria points out that the research also shows that if young people are learning these things at school and discussing them in the classroom, they take it home and talk to their families and whānau about it.

“So it’s actually a really good way to engage whole communities,” she says.

Accessing the new civics resources

The new resources can be accessed on the School Leavers’ Toolkit teacher-facing website.

Training workshops are also being held in term 3 to support educators and schools to integrate School Leavers’ Toolkit programmes, including these resources, into their local curriculum. More information on these workshops will be coming soon.

Schools are encouraged to partner with organisations to build their civics and toolkit programmes to create significant learning experiences for students. More information can be found on the School Leavers’ Toolkit teacher’s website.

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