Brief History of the CensusAtSchool Project
The Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education (RSSCSE) started the CensusAtSchool project in 2000 in conjunction with the National Statistics Office.The project, originally a one-off, was linked to the UK population census of 2001. It has now developed into a dynamic, ongoing and exciting initiative running in a number of countries.
It aims to:
Involve students in collecting data about themselves and improve understanding of a data gathering process, its purpose and benefits to society;
Foster a positive attitude to statistics through using real data that is of interest to students;
Enhance the process of statistical enquiry across the curriculum;
Encourage effective Information and Communication Technology (ICT) teaching and learning, including the use of the Internet;
Provide access to large and meaningful data sets;
Make comparisons between the student responses in different countries.
The original CensusAtSchool 2000/2002 questionnaire consisted of a single sheet with simple questions covering information about pupils, their households and their school life. While some of the questions were identical to those in the UK population census, others were designed to appeal to the pupil’s own interests and enthusiasms. Over 2000 primary, secondary and special schools registered for the project and over 60,000 children took part using the Internet site www.censusatschool.org . Since then many other countries have embraced the project with necessary adjustments to reflect local culture and traditions.
These countries include; Queensland, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and now the whole of Australia as well. In 2007 an International Committee was established and the 2007/2008 questionnaire contained 11 international questions included in all five main countries questionnaires. This enables closer and valid comparisons to be made between the children participating in CensusAtSchool. Two International workshops have already taken place in Melbourne, Australia in 2007 and Los Angeles, USA in 2008 with a third planned for Durban, South Africa in 2009. Do visit the websites of the participating nations (you can access these directly from our web portal) and have a look at their projects and the excellent curriculum ideas and resources they have provided.
In the UK the project has gone from strength to strength, with the RSSCSE running a new questionnaire in each academic year. CensusAtSchool 2008/2009 has questions on whether children want to be happy, healthy, rich or famous and which Superpower they would most like to have! The project is used by the DCSF (Department for Children Schools and Families) on a regular basis in their National Strategy training documents for teachers and features in the new national curriculum.
The worldwide database, which contain well over a million responses, can be sampled over the Internet for use in creating teaching and learning materials. It enables teachers and pupils across the world to enhance their data handling skills leading to improved statistical literacy and thinking. The involvement of different countries vastly increases the potential for exchange of information between school-aged children and is a unique way to assess global, social and other changes. It has the added bonus of providing ICT opportunities, and is motivational for both teachers and children alike.
The website at www.censusatschool.org.uk provides access to all resources and each country’s own CensusAtSchool website. Do take a look and get involved. The project is totally free to all UK Schools and offers a unique and different experience for your pupils.