Key Stage 3 Government & Democracy

Year 7 Local Government and its role in helping the Consumer

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Lesson Plan

Teaching ObjectivesPossible Teaching ActivityLearning Outcomes

Pupils should gain a basic understanding of:

  • the difference between Central and Local Government
  • the key features of Local Government
  • how Local Government is structured in their own locality and which services are offered by their Local Authority
  • how Trading Standards Departments fit into Local Government
  • what role the Trading Standards Service plays in the protection of local people

Begin the lesson by talking to the students about decision making. Ask them to make a list of examples of when they do and don't make their own decisions.

Talk about decision making on behalf of the whole Country. Try to elicit the words 'Government' or 'Parliament'. Briefly discuss the role of 'Central Government' and then go on to look at the important role of 'Local Government'.

Examine some of the key characteristics of Local Government:

  • elected
  • multi-purpose
  • local decisions
  • subordinate to parliament
  • local tax system

Explain to the students the structure of local Government. Ask the students to find out how Local Government is set up in the area they live and/or go to school. Consider the services offered by the local council and discuss why they are important.

Discuss how the Trading Standards Service structure fits into local councils and how they help local consumers and traders.

  • Students will be able to recognise the difference between Central Government and Local Government
  • Students will be aware of the historical background to local councils and will understand how local government is set up in their geographical area
  • Students will also be aware of the wide range of services that are available to the public from local authorities
  • Students will understand the work of Trading Standards and how it fits into local government

Teachers Notes

Do I make all my own decisions?

Background Information

We all make decisions about our live everyday. It is important for students to realise that they actually make a lot of decisions for themselves.

Before coming to school today, a student may have already decided what they were going to wear or what they wanted to eat for breakfast, etc.

All of these are personal decisions that directly affect them, but it is important for them to understand that sometimes we cannot always make our own decisions.

Who makes the decisions on behalf of the Country?

Background Information

This Country has a set of rules which state how the Country should be governed, sets standards for personal behaviour and procedures for handling personal disputes.

All societies have to make these policy choices, confront problems, resolve conflicts, handle disagreements, decide who gets what and how. Someone has to make decisions in order that the Country can function properly and this is why politics and politicians are important.

The governance of a modern society is a huge task and at the heart of the British political process is the Government of the day (headed by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet).

The Government is itself responsible to Parliament, which is composed of representatives of the people elected by popular vote. This set up could collectively be described as 'Central Government'.

As Central Government is such a huge and complex business, most countries find it necessary to arrange for some services to be provided and decisions to be made locally and away from the centre.

Local Government is usually taken to refer to the administration of public affairs in a specific local area, by elected members of a local council. Although subject to central government in many ways, local authorities possess a considerable amount of responsibility and discretionary power.

Investigation and Report Work

Ask the students to look at the way in which local government is set up in their own geographical area. How does this compare to other areas, eg, Counties, London Boroughs, etc?

How does local government support and deliver services and consult with users in order to improve its services?

Most local councils have a website and you can access them via the A-Z list of Local Government (

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What are the key features of Local Government?

Background Information

There are a number of characteristics of Local Government:

Suggested Teaching Activity

Debating Activity

Split the class into 2.

Ask one group of students to imagine they work for the Local Council and are planning a new leisure centre development. They consider that it is a great opportunity to bring new jobs and new services to the area.

Ask the other groups to imagine that they are a group of local residents. They are unhappy that the development is being planned in the field at the end of their road as they feel that it will cause severe disruption and bring too many cars and people into the area.

Get both groups to think about and write down how they will convince the other side that their views are the best. Then ask them to debate the issue. Ask a representative from each group to start by making a statement and then allow the other group to ask them questions.

Make sure that the students consider areas such as:

Interactive Resource

The Red Box ( is an interactive resource to teach your pupils about tax and public spending. The website invites visitors to take on management of 'The Square' and through playing games and answering questions students must raise enough money to maintain, or preferably improve, the services offered.

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How is Local Government structured?

Background Information

The structure of British local government is not simple. Not only are there various types of elected council, but within each type or category there may be a variety of different titles (City, County, Borough, etc).

British local government today has different forms, some areas with be single tier and consist of one unitary authority, whilst others will have several tiers, which may consist of County Council, District Council and Parish Council.

As the structure of Local Government affects who offers the different services in each area, it is important for students to understand how local Government is set up in the area where they live/go to school.

Local government has a number of functions:

Local Government has a political/representative role and it also has an administrative role.

It is important for local people to be aware of the administrative role of their local government, so that they know what they can expect and where to go if they have a problem.

Below is a list of services carried out by Local Authorities. It is important that students consider this list in relation to their own area. There is a student task at the end of this section, which asks pupils to go away and find out who deals with which service in their local area.

1) Personal Services

These are services that seek to enhance personal welfare.


The local authority has a basic responsibility that is laid down in the Education Act 1944 & 1996. They must provide free-of-charge primary and secondary education for nearly 10 million children in Britain. They must provide staff, enforce regular school attendance and provide transport and maintenance, etc.

The National Curriculum was introduced by the Education Reform Act 1988 together with universal assessment and testing at the ages of 7, 11, 14 and 16.


Since the Employment and Training Act 1973, all local (education) authorities are required to provide vocational advice and guidance for pupils and students attending educational institutions and an employment service for those leaving school.

Social Services

This service is concerned with the social welfare of people of all ages and condition, but their main attention is focused on the more vulnerable groups of society - the elderly, children and the disabled.

Basically, local authorities are required to promote social welfare by making available advice, guidance and assistance and by providing a range of facilities.


This covers a wide range of services and local authorities are encouraged to clear slums and re-develop local areas. They have lots of housing responsibilities including the provision of caravan sites and the responsibility for providing accommodation for the homeless. Most councils also offer housing advice centres as well.

2) Amenity Services

These are services provided for leisure purposes and might include the maintenance of museums, art galleries, playgrounds and parks.

3) Protective Services

The provision of protective services is aimed at protecting local people from various dangers.

Crime and Public Safety

Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, local authorities are under obligation to work with police and other organisations to develop crime reduction strategies.


Usually takes several forms - pubs & clubs, taxis, explosives, cinemas, kennels, etc. The aim of licensing is to regulate certain activities and these businesses will be expected to comply with certain conditions.

4) Environmental Services

These Services control and improve the environment for everyone

Environmental Health

These Departments are usually responsible for a wide range of services including:

Environmental Health Departments often work closely with the Trading Standards Service on areas such as food, as both departments have some responsibilities in this area.

Highways and Transport

Most public roads and bridges are the responsibility of the local authority. They are also responsible for traffic management systems including roundabouts and traffic lights. Local authorities may also become involved in the provision of transport as well as management of bus shelters, timetables and school transport, etc.


Land in Britain is carefully monitored and controlled in the interests of the community. Local authorities are responsible for the preparation of plans, control of development and conservation of the environment.

If a local citizen is unhappy with a service that they are receiving then they can complain to the Department that is providing that Service. If they feel that their complaint has not been adequately dealt with, each Council will have an official complaints procedure that they can undertake.

If after this avenue has been explored, the complainant is still unhappy they can then complain to the Ombudsman.

The Local Government Ombudsman ( is an independent person who investigates allegations of maladministration causing injustice to the person who has complained. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about most council matters including housing, planning, education, social services, council tax and trading standards.

The Local Government Ombudsman website also has a section for young people ( that contains information about their work and how it deals with issues relating to the rights and well-being of young people.

Suggested Teaching Activity


Trading Standards undertake a great deal of work on Food Safety particularly in the area of Food Labelling (this is looked at in the next section's teaching activities).

Environmental Health is the other local authority service that is responsible for Food Safety work, particularly Food Hygiene.

Quizzes and Research Information

The Foodlink website ( contains downloadable materials and an interactive section on different areas of Food Hygiene.

This site also gives information about National Food Safety Week which takes place in June every year.

Ask your class to research different areas of Food Safety and produce information leaflets and posters for Food Safety Week. They can then use that week to warn other students at your school about the dangers and hazards of food.

The Food in Schools website ( contains information for teachers covering all aspects of food and nutrition including worksheets.

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How does Trading Standards fit into Local Government Structure?

Background Information

The Trading Standards Service is one of the protective services that the local council provides.

The Weights and Measures Act states that the Act must be enforced by a local weights and measures authority and for many years Weights and Measures Departments existed within local authorities to satisfy this condition.

However, in the 1960s there was a surge of new legislation designed at protecting consumers and Weights and Measures Departments were, therefore, renamed Trading Standards Departments to take all of this new legislation into account.

The modern Trading Standards Department provides a more varied service than ever before and a typical department will enforce around 45 Acts of parliament and more than 1,000 regulations, order and codes of practice.

The work of the Trading Standards Department can be divided into 3 main areas:

Suggested Teaching Activity


Following on from the Food Safety Activities in the previous section, it is also important to ensure that students are taught about Food Labelling, which is enforced by Trading Standards Departments

Student Quizzes and Exercises

The Smart Shoppers' Guide was written by Essex County Council Trading Standards and been adapted for the Internet by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards Service. It contains a section on Food Labelling ( which includes a range of teaching activities and students' exercises.

Further information about Food Safety can be found on the following websites:

Food Standards Agency (

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (

Department of Health (

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