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Me and my community

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By David Standen2011 Census Editorial Officer

In March, a white envelope with a purple C emblazoned on it will drop through every letterbox in England and Wales. It signals the arrival of the 2011 Census questionnaire – the once-a-decade event run by the Office for National Statistics that affects everyone in England and Wales

Census 2011 logo

The questionnaire is only the beginning, though. The statistics gathered will be used as the cornerstone for planning our communities for years to come. Schools, play parks, hospitals, community centres – census data are used in the planning of all of these.

Use these activity ideas to demonstrate to children the importance of the census in taking a snapshot of a particular time.

Change over time

Ask the children to list facilities and events in their area that are important to them now – for example, play parks or libraries. This could lead into a discussion about who decides which of these things are needed in a community.

Next, ask the children how they think their lives will change over time. Do they think that their lifestyles and needs might change in ten years time? How about in 20 or 50 years into the future? In 20 years time, will health centres be more important to them than play parks? If they themselves have children one day, will they be interested in things that are available to those children?

Then, ask them to think about how society has changed over time from 1801, when the first census took place. There are two sets of slides in the ‘Me and My Community’ toolkit that help to explain how society has changed, looking at 1801, 1901 and 2001. These allow children to describe the differences they see. Visit the 2011 Census website to download the toolkit.

A census in 100 years time

Ask the children to imagine that they are living in 2111 – 100 years into the future. Ask them what they think life would be like. Encourage children to write a short paragraph on what their lives, and what society, might be like in 2111. Will everything be different, or will some things remain the same? How will new technology change the way people live? Will communities be as important as they are today? What different groups might exist in the future?

Being proud of our community

Ask children what is meant by the word ‘community’ and what they like about their own community. Ask them to discuss their thoughts and work in small groups to produce a poster showing one good aspect of their local community.

Ask the children to think about a positive experience in their community and to write a short paragraph explaining what it was and why they enjoyed it. They could also bring in an item that is linked to their community or family for a ‘show and tell’ session – for example, a photograph of a community event such as a football game or fête.

The children could also create a wall of images and words that celebrates their community, including positive aspects that encourage inclusiveness and diversity.

Me and My Community logo

Census Day is on 27 March, and the Office for National Statistics has teamed up with Kids Connections to produce ‘Me and My Community’ – a toolkit for teachers working with Key Stage 2 children.

‘Me and My Community’ has an exciting range of tools with links to citizenship, PSHE/PSE, English or Welsh, history, art, D&T and ICT. These will all help children to understand the significant impact of the census on their lives and their community.

The toolkit contains a community-building computer game, flashcards, workbooks and other resources. By the end of the activity children will have discovered that the census is a snapshot of our population, and will begin to think about how their needs might change over time. You can use the toolkit to inspire children to produce their own ‘My story’ snapshot, or even a version for the whole class.

Visit the 2011 Census website to download the toolkit.