How the Citizens’ Curriculum supports engagement in city life

25th February 2015

In our latest blog from one of the NIACE Citizens’ Curriculum pilot sites, Munawara Sattar and Hoshna Huda from Leicester College explain how a Citizens’ Curriculum approach is benefitting learners who have recently migrated to Leicester. 

Many of us walk through the city centre and don’t take time to stop and enjoy our surroundings, or think about its past.  If we are new to the city, we might not even be aware of its history, what the city centre has to offer, or perhaps lack the confidence to explore the attractions, opportunities and the possibilities.  However, learners on our Citizens’ Curriculum course were delighted to be given the chance to find out more.

Working with recent migrants to the city, Leicester College’s Citizens’ Curriculum pilot combines English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) with health, digital, financial and civic capabilities to enable them to make the best start to a new life in a new country and a new city.
As part of the civic capability strand of the course, tutors and three groups of learners braved the cold and undertook a fact-finding trip of Leicester City centre.  The purpose of the trip was to develop learners’ understanding of the historical backdrop of Leicester, the diverse range of faiths in the city and to encourage pride in being a citizen of the city. The trip took us through the historic part of the city, starting at the Clock Tower, onto Leicester Cathedral, Newarke House museum, the Jain Centre and the Buddhist Centre.  We learnt about the industrial past, the story of Richard III and the Great Wars, and about the history of immigration to Leicester.

All the learners agreed that they had experienced parts of Leicester they had never seen before.  It was great to see them feel empowered to go into local buildings they were previously afraid to visit. The best part was finding out that many went back to the local attractions independently, this time with friends and family.

The Citizens’ Curriculum approach allows tutors to respond to the needs and interests of the learners, who play a crucial part in shaping the course content.  The city centre trip is one example of the value of this, but it can be seen in other parts of the course too.  For instance, in the digital and financial capabilities strands, the learners expressed an interest in an online lift-sharing scheme, offering the possibility of affordable travel.  They are now developing the language and digital skills to find out more about how they can use the internet to access these types of ‘sharing-economy’ initiatives.  This isn’t just about saving money of course – it’s clear that, as with the city centre trip, the Citizens’ Curriculum has the potential to bring about greater civic engagement to benefit everyone.

How do you think a Citizens’ Curriculum benefit learners in other settings? How would you use it?