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We are certainly living in interesting times with regards to the democratic process in our country at the moment! The International Day of Democracy held annually on September 15th may be a perfect date to examine democracy with your students or even look at democratic processes within the school as this is also the time a lot of schools will be selecting their School Councils.
Democracy provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realisation of human rights. These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further developed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which enshrines a host of political rights and civil liberties underpinning meaningful democracies.
The link between democracy and human rights is captured in article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
The video below from the United Nations sets out what the International Day of Democracy is and why it was created, this overview also provides information on what Democracy is and the part that the United Nations plays.
A great resource to use on this day is British Values from LGfL. British Values were first defined in the Prevent Strategy as “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”. But all too often, teachers feel they have inadequate support and resourcing with which to develop this important part of the broader school curriculum.
We have sought to meet this need by providing high-quality, safe and relevant teaching materials that foster deeper understanding and informed debate amongst young people. We do not aim to deliver a definitive view for teachers and learners to ‘accept and learn’, but to enable discussion in a safe, tolerant and supportive environment. The video below explains what is democracy.
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‘Developing British Values’ is both a stand alone learning resource in its own right and also as a gateway to other ideas, assets and materials (via the Related themes and Further assets & resources menus) that can be used for one-off, dedicated activities, or for embedding core themes into a planned series of lessons.
Commonwealth, Parliament and Democracy resource from The British council, created in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, will help to provide students with factual information and cross-curricular activities, enabling them to learn and think critically about the Commonwealth, its parliament, and the topic of democracy more broadly. The activities also aim to expand students' knowledge and understanding, provide opportunities to develop their core skills, all the while encouraging them to explore and reflect on local and global issues. Each unit contains information for teachers, ideas for discussion and suggestions for cross-curricular activities. These can be used as starting points in individual lessons, or as elements of a larger cross-curricular joint project involving collaboration over a number of subjects with a partner school overseas.
This time of year is also when most schools are electing their school councils, Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) says that children and young people should have a say in decisions that affect their lives. A school council can provide a meaningful way in which pupils can voice their opinions and have their views taken into account in decisions which impact upon them. There is a short overview from CBBC Newsround which explains what a school council is and the roles, perfect for showing to younger children or new Year 3 pupils. Children's Rights Wales have also produced a great pack for schools councils, with a range of games, ideas and an activity pack for staff and pupils. There is also this toolkit from Leicestershire Healthy schools programme including activities, roles and guidance.
To inspire pupils why not watch a video from Kid President - the one below is entitled A Pep Talk from Kid President:
Parliament UK has a fantastic range of resources for looking at democracy. The free teaching resources include videos, downloadable lesson plans, booklets, assemblies, interactive whiteboard resources, loan boxes and publications. Their interactive games are also ideal for use both in the classroom or as homework activities www.parliamentgames.co.uk.
Into Film also have a range of resources that schools can use when looking at democracy including this assembly featuring thought provoking questions and film clips based around films on the themes of democracy and debate. The assembly encourages young people to reflect on their attitudes to democracy and the portrayal of young people and politics in feature films. There are also a range of clips from the BBC entitled Democracy in Action that could from part of citizenship lessons.