Derby Grammar School pupils have spent the last few days presenting the outcome of their Citizenship projects across the school – from awareness around LGBT to the death penalty and human rights.

Citizenship is a core curriculum subject in Years 7, 8 and 9. But what does it actually cover? Classes encourage discussion around current affairs, often leading pupils to question their pre-conceived ideas and covering wide-ranging issues such as local, national and international politics, law-making, discrimination, refugees and human rights. The ultimate aim is to make young people more aware of what is happening in the world.

Year 9 have recently presented their final topics on the themes of LGBT, human rights defenders, the death penalty, sweat shops and the right to play. At the start of the academic year each pupil researched a topic they were interested in and presented it to the rest of the group. They then voted for their favourite, and from this the five themes were decided upon. The year group split into teams with one working on each theme.

Mrs Lacey teaches Citizenship at Derby Grammar School. She said: “This is a really interesting subject and we have lots of topical conversation within class related to what’s in the news.

It really opens the pupils’ eyes as we question what they see in the media. I encourage them not to take the information reported for granted, but to understand the background so that they can see both sides of a story and take an objective view.”

Jack Austin worked in a group of four on the LGBT theme. He said: “We are developing our campaign to raise awareness of those who suffer, especially overseas. In Africa alot of the outdated laws relating to LGBT were introduced when the countries were British colonies. We had a big impact on their lives then and so should be trying to help them make things better now.

It’s been really interesting to find out more about how LGBT people are treated, and also very sad. It’s made us realise that we should be doing more.

Our campaign is to raise awareness in school. At the end of the project we are planning to present the campaign to Amnesty International.”

Jasper Grace led the human rights defenders project. The team of 16 took a Senior School assembly to raise awareness of defenders around the world, their campaigns and struggles. All are regularly being falsely accused and threatened as they campaign for human rights, some have even lost their lives as they fight for their cause.

Jasper said: “We chose this topic as we wanted to help people. It’s an area I already felt strongly about before we started, but as we’ve researched our project we have realised even more what people go through to defend basic human rights.

Our assembly has raised awareness across the school, and we are also creating poster displays and encouraging people to look at the Amnesty International website.”

The death penalty project raises awareness of the issue in Iran and the large numbers of people who have been killed, 500 in 2017 alone which also includes children. Led by Ted Gushlow, the team of five which also included Sam, Abubakr, Junaid and Josh, have written names of 50 of those killed and fixed them to a tree in the school grounds. It is a reminder to all of the numbers this affects.

Ted said: “As we’ve researched and learnt more, we’ve felt very sad about it. We’ve worked well as a group and the project has taught us more about teamwork and how to work well and effectively together.”

Mrs Lacey added: “Throughout the time the pupils study Citizenship, not only does their awareness grow but they improve their research skills, and gain confidence in debating and presenting, all of which are useful skills for their further studies and beyond.”