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Teachers: Citizenship: Ethnic diversity

Last Updated: Monday May 15 2006 10:50 GMT

Can you teach 'Britishness'?

Race and religion


Union Jack
Lessons in being British could soon be taught to all 11 to 16-year olds at school in England.

The government is thinking about introducing classes to teach about British values and traditions

This activity asks students to consider if this is a good idea.

Learning aims

  • Meaning of citizen
  • Consider how 'Britishness' could be tested
  • Discuss the pros and cons of teaching values and traditions.


    Read out the definitions below.

    Citizen: A UK citizen is someone who is legally recognised as a member of this country.

    Citizenship: Is about giving people the knowledge and the skills that they need to be active and responsible members of their local and national communities.

    Quiz: Could you be an American?

    Can students answer the following questions taken from the test for would be American Citizens:

  • What are the colours of the American flag?
  • How many stars are on the American flag?
  • Who is the American president?
  • Who is the American vice president?
  • How many amendments are there to the American constitution?
  • Do you speak fluent English?
  • Are you over eighteen?
  • Have you lived in America for five years without getting into trouble?

    If you failed the test does that mean you could not fit into American society?

    If you revised for the test, and you passed it how might that help you fit in with American society?

    Main activity

    Students devise their own test with twenty questions about British society. The questions can include anything they think is an important part of being British. Subjects might include; politics, entertainment, sport etc. They can try the test out on each other.

    Was it easy to think of twenty questions?

    How did they feel about other people telling them what it was to be British?

    Could we ever agree on what should be in the lessons?

    Extension activity

    Come up with a script or storyboard for what you think a lesson on traditions and values should involve.


    Using an A3 sheet turn their quiz into a board game decorated with images from British life.


    Lessons in school could help people learn some facts about British society. But there's a risk that kids from immigrant families might think the lessons are saying that British people are better than them. How would you teach about values in a way that gets round this problem?

    Teachers' Background

    Possible points for Britishness test

  • Able to speak English, Welsh or Gaelic
  • Know how to acquire necessities like electricity
  • Understand how democracy and Parliament works
  • Have knowledge of etiquette and sexual equality
  • Understand British institutions like the monarchy and elections
  • British history since 1945
  • Applicants must have lived in the UK for five years or three years if married to a Briton.

    Habib Rahman of the Council for the Welfare of Immigrants says: "If you don't speak English fluently you can still be an upstanding member of the community."

    He added: "This debate will give credence to the racists and all the racial prejudice in this country."

    Ted Cantle, who chaired the inquiry into the Bradford riots says: "Details of a new oath of allegiance should be the subject of a national debate."

    Turn this into an assembly

    Devise a true/false quiz on what it is to be British, but add questions that reflect our diverse population. The result will be a quiz that no individual can answer on their own, but the whole group acting as a team could answer.

    Test the group with a show of hands for true or false.

    Reflect on what it is to be British. Introduce the idea of multiple identities. Some people may have got answers wrong because they are British tennis fans, not British football fans.

    With differing backgrounds and interests our knowledge is as diverse as our skin colour, but we are all British.

  • Related Lessons

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