Background – written by Karen Thomson (Deputy Headteacher at St Marychurch CE Primary)

I first introduced The Torbay Civic Award in 2005. I was teaching at Cockington Primary School at that time, coordinating KS2 and was teaching in Year 6. I was also the Advanced Skills Teacher for Citizenship and PSHE for Torbay LEA, working locally and nationally to develop Pupil Voice, Pupil Participation and the development of excellent Citizenship and PSHE Education. The Torbay Civic Award aims to encourage Citizenship amongst ten and eleven year olds. I was inspired to create the award by a deep belief that education should be broader and more futures-driven and that we, as leaders in education, have a moral responsibility to develop children’s attitudes and values as well as transferable skills to equip them for a future none of us can yet imagine. It was also born from a desire to balance the SATs-driven curriculum in Y6 with a human, selfless aspect to help those children become well-rounded, confident and caring individuals who strive to make a difference in their various communities and are prepared to take responsibility for change. I was also inspired by the Southampton Civic Award, led by Roy Honeybone, who I met on a Citizenship Day in London.

I began the award with 12 Y6 children who are pictured below receiving their award from the mayor of Torbay. I am pictured with Roy Honeybone who I invited to attend. Many of these original pioneers have gone on to make a difference in their communities through taking part in D of E, International Baccalaureate, Scouts, Guides, TBGS TACTIC and in caring professions.


To achieve the award pupils have to prove their participation in five main areas. These are:

1. Active Citizenship in their school community This could be Peer Mediation , Reading Buddies . School Council or other positions of trust and responsibility in school.

2. Active Citizenship in their home communities . In the past, pupils have taken part in beach cleans, bulb planting, helping at Brownies /Cubs/sports clubs and looking after people in the community. Pupils may also work with others to organise events in school to support local charities.

3. An active hobby(ies) and A non-active hobby (ies)Children should spend about 30 minutes on average a week on their hobbies and one of them needs to be new to the child from September 2009.

4. Residential experience and adventure training. This entails sleeping away from home and taking part in outdoor challenges.

5. Children also need to adopt a cause or charity which they feel strongly about. They need to research it and find ways of supporting it. (I added this area later after)

The children must also pass a rigorous assessment when they have to present all this evidence to an external assessor.

Some of the ways in which the children have participated in their school communities include Peer Mediation, Play Leaders for younger children, School Councillors and Reading Buddies. Acts of Active Citizenship in their local communities have included helping neighbours, litter-picking, fund raising for local charities including Rowcroft, participating in community events and beach cleans. The children have adopted a range of charities including Animals In Distress, Rowcroft, Cancer Research, Bristol Children’s Hospital and Help for Heroes. Many were inspired to support these because of events in their own lives and have organised cake sales, loom band sales, penalty shoot outs and other sponsored events to raise money for their chosen charities.

Over the last nine years I have encouraged other schools to join and each year numbers of children achiving the award and numbers of schools taking part grew. In 2014 the numbers of children taking part in the Torbay Civic Award since its inception nine years ago grew to over 1000 when nearly 200 Year 6 pupils from Torbay primary schools were presented with their prestigious Torbay Civic Award certificates by Councillor Ray Hill at the annual Torbay Civic Award Presentation Night, which was held at the Centenary Hall, Torquay Boys’ Grammar School. Currently children from St Marychurch, Shiphay, Cockington, St Margarets, Sherwell Valley, Furzeham, Torre, Priory, Warberry, Homelands, Hayes, The Abbey School, Sacred Heart, and Collaton St Mary Primary schools take part in the scheme which is growing every year.

In 2010 I attended a presentation about the International Baccalaureate with my son which was led by Mr Roy Pike at Torquay Boys’ Grammart School. I was very inspired by the vision behind this qualification, particularly the Creativity, Action, Service element and wrote to Roy Pike suggesting that there might be a wonderful way to link the IB with The TCA. For the last four years, IB stuidents have led the Torbay Civic Award launch in October (Last year 300 children attended) and event-managed the Presentation Evening as part of their CAS for the IB. Many TBGS students have also given up their own time to help in primary schools, sharing their own skills and supporting with the Torbay Civic Award.

Next year will be the 10th year and I plan to have a big focus on Community. I am hoping to work with the Rotary Club to set up a project or projects which will enable children taking part in the award to work with children from other schools to benefit their communities. I also hope to introduce a web site and a facebook group. I would like to publicise the award more and develop geater links with Torbay Council. I also plan to make this year’s Presentation Evening a more special one.

Philosophy behind the Torbay Civic Award

• It brings about community cohesion through linking school and community
• It empowers children to become global citizens – developing their awareness of the works of charities
• It develops empathy and the desire to strive for a fairer future. It encourages them to be compassionate and to take responsibility for positive change
• It hits all ECM outcomes – even achieving economic well being by developing skills for the workplace and allowing children to manage money
• It encourages children to be safe – action planning with risk assessments is an important part of the award
• It develops self esteem, confidence and assurance
• It develops a team working ethos and promotes related skills of collaboration and independence
• It supports children in leading purposeful and full lives and is great preparation for both secondary school and the workplace.
• The scheme develops Pupil Voice and Citizenship
• It encourages acquisition of important values (respect contribution compassion etc) and allows children to see them in practice
• It is about what we all believe in: moral purpose and integrity – developing and nurturing the whole child for life and placing education in a broader and more worthy context.

presentation night 2014