Community: Study Action Areas


Each of the nine MAC themes is divided into four study action areas. This page sets out specimen content for the study action areas that form part of the Community theme.

The four study action areas in this theme are:

  1. Britain’s culture – past and present
  2. The school community
  3. The local community
  4. Responsible citizens

This page also includes the following:

MAC brings together disparate National Curriculum materials and adds important material, aiming to organise children’s learning in a focused and determined way.

There is no suggestion that the content set out below is in any sense definitive. It is intended merely for discussion and debate, a starting point for the detailed programmes of learning that will be required for each year group.

A strong contribution to the community results from individuals who can communicate effectively and maintain positive relationships with others. It is through the uptake of communication, relationship and community skills and activities that children grow up to make positive contributions to society.

Children develop their historical and cultural (art, drama, literary and music) knowledge and skills in their learning as outlined in The National Curriculum for England, Key Stages 1 & 2 and community skills as outlined in the PSHE Association tasked by central government in the delivery of a number of cross-curricular themes.

Study Action Area 1: Knowledge of Britain past and present

The study of history serves two community purposes. For indigenous pupils it gives them a sense of where they have come from. For recent migrants it gives pupils a sense of the community (society) they have joined. It gives both sets of pupils a sense of what makes English society what it is today, with the emphasis on where the pupils are at now; why they are where they are at now; why the local community is the way it is; and how it fits into the wider society that is Britain.

Specimen content:

  • The local community: Find out how old the local community is; what changes have taken place in the community; what organisations/buildings in the local community have a history to explore; how long have people been here; how did they used to live; what different groups of people are there and what is their history?
  • British society: Know the countries that make up the United Kingdom; how did the United Kingdom come about; who is in charge of the United Kingdom and how is it that any citizen can take part in taking charge of Britain?
  • Movement of people into Britain: Know about the Picts, the Celts, the Angles, the Saxons, the Romans, the Vikings, the Normans and modern day movement of people into Britain from around the globe?
  • Changes to life style in Britain: Give examples of changes brought by the different movements of people into Britain to the way people lived; were the changes good for the people already living in Britain?
  • Changes in lifestyle: Compare the way we live now to the way people used to live; what different roles did people have in the past; what different roles do we have today; is life today better than life in the past?
  • Significant changes on lifestyle: Describe inventions throughout the ages that made significant impact on what Britain is today (Roman roads, Norfolk rotation of crops; Norman castles and administration, the long bow, the printing press, gun powder, sailing ships, the steam engine, computers, the internet)  
  • The Arts contribution to lifestyle: Give examples of key historical figures that have contributed to the nation’s involvement in music, art, drama, film, architecture and history?
  • Britain’s role in the world: Find out what is meant by the Age of Discovery; what was the British Empire, how big was it and what did empire mean for the countries which belonged to the British Empire; what links are there to Empire in the migration of British people; what happened to the British Empire?
  • People in history: Give examples of national figures who made a lasting impact on Britain’s development as a nation.
  • How do we know what happened in the past? Learn the value of historical documents in finding out about the past; how else do we know about the past a long time ago and the recent past?
  • What do we learn from historical records? Identify what can be learned from historical records; why do we need to know the date of historical records?
  • How do we develop our knowledge further: Develop the language used to discuss history and why is it important to learn terminology such as ‘chronological order’, ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’? 

Study Action Area 2: Understanding school as a community

It is crucial for children to experience the school as a community as the school is the child’s first experience of community following on from attendance at nursery. See Teaching Notes below for more on this.

Children are taught to:

  • About the school: Explore the history of the school; find out how old the school is, why it was built; where did the pupils go to next in their schooling; what are the pupils doing now as adults; what changes to learning have taken place since the school began; what was schooling like for all children when first started?
  • Children valued: Understand and feel they are safe in school; that their safety is supervised; and children know how to get help and support and who to go to.
  • The learning environment: Know that teachers and teaching assistants are there to create a learning environment of colour and interest with wall displays of school community activity.
  • The classroom: Experience the classroom as a community with rules; and work collaboratively in a spirit of cooperation.
  • Ethos: Realise their classroom is part of the wider school community; the community of the school is talked up by the classroom teacher; displays of children’s work are posted in the corridors to advertise the whole school as a shared learning community.
  • Assemblies: Value assemblies run by senior management; contribute to class led assemblies; and participate in and lead cross school assemblies about the school, how the school works and how everyone in the school supports their learning.
  • Sports: Participate in sports and support the school sports teams as key to the school community ethos.
  • The arts: Advance their knowledge and skill in art, craft, design technology and music; and share their knowledge through performance, display and presentation.
  • Involvement: Recognise their contributions at class and whole school level as contributing to the school community; older children are given opportunity to help with the younger children; and given jobs around the school at break times.

Study Action Area 3: Learning about and experiencing the wider community

Apart from what schools can do for themselves, a concerted and agreed national effort would do much to engage the community in provision of opportunities for children to feel the school is part of the wider community and their schooling is preparation for their contribution to the community as adults.

Specimen content:

  • Calendar events: Experience the wider community through contact with parents and governors invited to key calendar events such as Harvest Festival, Christmas Plays, Sports Day and Pupil Award Ceremonies.
  • Parent involvement: Experience parental and governor help in the classroom; parents coming in to talk on a topic; participation of parents in visits out of the school; parental participation in classroom parties.
  • External organisations: Discuss why visitors visit the school to undertake specialist classroom workshops or provide entertainment on special occasions; external trips are made out into the community increasing children knowledge of how the community is run and increasing their understanding of different roles people play out in the community.
  • The neighbourhood: Become more aware of what is in their neighbourhood and why it is there.
  • Community support: Discuss with people whose jobs it is to support the community: doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police etc.
  • Participation: Know about the very many different ways of participating in the community and some of the ways are voluntary; they find out the options there are for them to become involved.

Study Action Area 4: Learning about responsible citizenship

One of the three areas of life is ‘other people’. Through the MAC approach to learning, children’s knowledge and engagement with other people is developed through acquiring communication skills, adoption of positive relationships and both communication and relationships contributing to children growing up with positive attitudes, values and practices as responsible, self sufficient, but actively contributing citizens.

Specimen content:

  • Self-respect: Learn self-respect as the anchor point in respecting others. 
  • Respect: Develop their respect for others regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or class.
  • Perspective: Put their community into the perspective of communities across the globe who are living with different perspectives, customs and traditions.
  • Values: Explore shared social values and goals of people from diverse cultures across the globe.
  • Democracy: Learn how the country is governed; the importance of having ‘The Vote’; the role of local councilors; what Parliament does.
  • Rights: Learn children have rights, they have rights in the family, in the school and in the community, rights that are protected by law
  • Sharing: Learn to share in the community of the school and the neighbourhood by taking part in school and neighbourhood charities and activities.
  • Behaviour: Act in appropriate ways in different situations such as in school, at home, in public.
  • Self-sufficiency: Learn the value of money, how it is earned, how it can be saved, essential spending and how to budget.
  • The world of work: Learn the importance of long term goals in achieving their independence as adults: they find out the different ways in which they can be. productive now and as adults in their community, the jobs that people do and what it takes to qualify for these.
  • Laws: Learn what happens when you break the law.
  • Empathy: Reflect on the harm racism and bullying can cause themselves and others and know where to go for support for themselves and others.

Teaching notes

A school is a living, breathing community. It makes use of citizenship protocols and competencies every single day — community rules, cooperation, volunteering, environmental care, empathy and respect for others, adaptability, responsibility, financial acumen, neighbourhood respect.

Every day therefore represents an outstanding opportunity for children to learn about the community around them.

Further information

Websites contributing ideas and information to the action areas are listed on the links page.

A word on definitions

By community is meant neighbours, the local area in which the children live; the wider social network of shops and places children visit; a shared culture and identity which makes up the United Kingdom; and all peoples of the world.


A key feature of the Merged Action Curriculum is its rearrangement of the National Curriculum subjects. It is crucial that pupils are assisted into the adulthood community by learning from England’s history and the use of historical and geographical knowledge in placing the United Kingdom into its global context.

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