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Bentleigh Catholic Secondary College

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Mt Erin Secondary College

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Diamond Valley Secondary College

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Westall Secondary College

Mt Erin Secondary College

Population: 1060


Civics and citizenship education sits comfortably in the SOSE Learning Area although there are valuable components of CCE in other Learning Areas and extra curricular activities: There are 13 teachers who work in Years 7 – 10 SOSE, although there are few teachers who are not heavily committed to other learning areas.

SOSE on the timetable

Year 7 (core) 3 periods
Year 8 (core) 2.5 periods
Year 9 (elective only) minimum of 5 periods in one semester with the possibility of more if students elect to take more units
Year 10 (core) 3 periods (choice of semester electives) 5 periods

Integrating materials into existing subjects

A major thrust of the Mount Erin response to the Discovering Democracy materials was to use it as a source of ideas for student activities and resources for class use. The year seven implementation is typical of the process:

Year 7 has a cross strand SOSE unit called ‘Conflict and Cooperation’ and a history unit called ‘Ancient Communities’. The Mount Erin case study shows how selected components of the ‘Discovering Democracy’ materials can be integrated into existing subjects.

‘Conflict and Cooperation’

The resources which have been used for this subject have, in the past, been drawn from a variety of sources including textbooks, newspapers and journals, videos and pop songs.

Having unpacked the Discovering Democracy kit, the year 7 teachers soon realised that the materials prepared for the two of the units were very relevant to Conflict and Cooperation:

The teachers then selected activities and resources to suit the unit, making minor changes to their structure of the subject. As a consequence Conflict and Cooperation now uses many of the multimedia, text and charts supplied in the Discovering Democracy kit. The ‘new look’ subject will be introduced in 1999 and the teachers are confident that the students will react positively.

Ancient Communities’

The year 7 SOSE teachers found elements of the unit ‘Should the People Rule’ which would integrate with existing year 7 ‘Ancient Communities’. The new approach within the DD unit enlivens the study of Ancient Athens with the focus ‘what was it like to live in Ancient Athens?’ This section of the work incorporates a poster, interview and debate.

The same approach has been used at most levels in the school, in particular

Year Level Existing SOSE Unit DD activities/materials adapted from
8 Medieval History (Knights and Castles) Parliament vs Monarch
10 20th Century Australian History Making a Nation. A democracy destroyed (Nazi Germany) Human Rights
11 VCE Legal Studies Who Should Rule? Making a Nation
12 VCE Outdoor Education Getting Things Done

Integrating units into existing subjects is an approach that appeals to many of the teachers who attend SMR meetings. Prominent amongst the resources and activities likely to be treated in this way are:

Implementing whole Discovering Democracy Units

Most network leaders felt that it was too early to expect many schools to implement entire units. The materials reached schools in November 1998, too late to be fully incorporated into the forward planning for 1999. It is likely that one or two of the units will be offered in its entirety as an elective at year 10 in 2000. The most probable units are

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Diamond Valley Secondary College


DVSC has a long standing commitment to civics education. While the resources and planning are focused upon the SOSE faculty, the school has an active whole school strategy in place. This strategy focuses on citizenship activities related to

Over the last two years the year 9 program in particular has been developed to include

The Discovering Democracy Kit is seen as a timely, quality resource which strengthens the civics program, enabling teachers to add variety and depth to SOSE courses. For example the History teachers have integrated elements of the unit at year 7, especially enthusiastic about the Athens vs Sparta activities.

At year 9 level the SOSE teachers have integrated the unit ‘Democratic Struggles’ into the core studies, selecting materials and pedagogies to fit the existing course. Teachers report that the structure of the units is innovative, that it encourages them to focus on the way their students learn, rather than on assembling resources and lessons for civics topics.

Teachers appreciate the design of the pages, which allow them to photocopy and deliver materials in a short time frame. Teachers are also finding it easy to set work and assess outcomes through the use of the kit. Some of them have experimented with the CD based materials with positive feedback from students.

The network leader believes that, from a strategic point of view, the effective use of computers in civics education may provide a lever at many schools which may otherwise not prioritise civics education. While largely positive and supportive, there is some resistance to change at the school. The barriers relate to the placement of civics in the curriculum. In an overcrowded curriculum, some teachers inevitably see strengthening of the civics program as a threat to their own teaching area.

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Westall Secondary College

Population 500

Westall is a secondary school on the middle Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh. It has 500 students who are largely from Non English Speaking backgrounds. Many of these come from countries where there is no vote.

There is a strong need, therefore, to develop literacies and competencies in areas of civics and citizenship. The Discovering Democracy kit has been unpacked in both the history and commerce faculties. Elements have been used at years 7 – 10. Teachers have attended some local network meetings, as well as participating in an on line chat group organised by Angela Dawson (network leader) last year.

At years 7 & 8 SOSE

The school offers a term unit at years 7 and 8 called ‘Local government and the first settlers’. Teachers started using ‘bits and pieces’ of the Discovering Democracy kit in 1999. One teacher, Jacqui Wright, believes that the kit is one of the best ‘user friendly’ resources available. Teaches who have tried elements in their classes report that the students respond well, and that it is taking them into new areas of pedagogy with its innovative activities.

Given the low levels of English language skills, the teachers have tended to use elements of the Primary Discovering Democracy units. Teachers and students appreciate the use of graphics and images throughout the DD Kit. In conjunction with the primary video (which has been received better than the secondary one) the materials are a valuable mixture of graphic, concept and language content which can be used to support the development of language skills as well as civics and citizenship education and competencies.

Year 7 and 8 students have started using the CD ROM, especially the first fleet activities. The school has computer laboratories which the SOSE teachers find hard to have timetabled for SOSE, however two of the teachers have been running the CD on their laptop, with small groups, and the students have been very responsive.

At Years 9 & 10

At years 9 & 10 the school has a legal studies type unit which focuses on the Courts and Parliament. This is a core unit of three forty-eight minute lessons per week. Here again the teachers have selected graphics reach materials suitable for the levels that they are working with. Two units in particular have proved useful so far

While the year 9 & 10 unit has been in place for some years, SOSE teachers feel that the Discovering Democracy kit enhances the accessibility of the key learning. Again Commerce and History teachers report that they are using novel approaches to lessons which suit the content and the learning styles of their students.

The future

Issues currently focus on accessing computers on a more regular basis, and in strengthening civics and citizenship education at years 7 & 8. There is already a range of environment and peer support programs in place at the school. It is hoped that some of these may provide a springboard for the development of active citizenship programs at the school. IN conjunction with these developments SOSE teachers plan to integrate more of the Discovering Democracy materials into the central curriculum next year.

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Bentleigh Catholic Secondary College

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic secondary school with a stable population of 700 students. It has a ‘cross curriculum’ approach to Civics Education which currently takes place on the year 9 and 10 year levels.

The Discovering Committee has been unpacked with all staff, in a one and a half hour professional development session. To this point the teachers have used elements of the CD ROM in the Consumer Education elective at year 9 & 10. Teachers have also used activities from the Unit ‘The People Make a Nation’.

These events take place in a context within which the school is currently reviewing the delivery of Civics and Citizenship education throughout the school. It is being guided in this by 10 fundamental values canvassed by an educationalist in the early 1970s. It is anticipated that an audit of current practice will use these value/moral issues as the basis for provision of Civics Education into the future. The ten moral/value positions are centred around the following key topics:

Ten values for Civics and Citizenship Education

Justice: What is Justice?

Social Justice
How should society treat its citizens
Justice System
How are we governed? Who decides the rules and how are they enforced?

Freedom: What is freedom?

What does it mean to be free?
What types of freedom are there
What are the responsibilities and obligations of freedom

Diversity: What is diversity?

Are all people equal?
Is there inequality?


How are people different?
How are systems of government different
Do people have different points of view?
How is diversity accomodated?

Authority: What is authority?

Who are authorities?
What do authorities do?
What structures and institutiions exist as authorities

Privacy: What is Privacy

Why is privacy important?
What systems exist to ensure privacy?

Due Process: What is Due Process

Is everyone entitled to due process?
How does due process work?

Participation: What is Participation?

How do people participate in society?
Why is participation in society important?

Personal Obligation to maintain the common good

What is the common good?
How do people contribute to the common good?
How do people contribute to the common good

International Human Rights: What are international human rights?

What are human rights
Why are human rights important?

Using the 10 value/moral issues to help build a civics program

The school community has adopted these 10 value/moral questions/themes as its guiding principles in the construction of a new whole school approach to civics and citizenship education 7 –10. As a result of work so far the school has drawn up five criteria for selecting materials and establishing civics and citizenship programs in the near future:

The program should

An audit grid with the following column headings has been drawn up and will be completed over the next few months:

  1. The ten values
  2. Where is it currently provided? (subject, year level)
  3. When (Unit title, term)
  4. How? (specific example of classroom practice)
  5. Where could this be included in the new structure?

Integrating Discovering Democracy materials

Michelle Cotter is coordinating the review of the civics program and is optimistic that it will result in the adaptation of many of the activities and resources provided in the Discovering Democracy Kit. At present she is especially focused on the CD ROM.

Aspects of the new program will be designed this first half of 1999, and implemented as a pilot program in the second semester in half of the year 9 & 10 groups. It is likely that this new unit will be largely based upon ‘’The people Make a Nation".

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