Key Stage 3 Government & Democracy

Year 8 Central 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 differences between Parliament and Government
  • the split in work between the House of Lords and the House of Commons
  • how general elections are run and why it is important for the public to vote
  • which national organisations exist to look after the interests of consumers

Begin the lesson by asking students what they understand by the term Central Government. Explain the distinction between Parliament and Government and also discuss the political party system that exists in the UK.

Talk to students about the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Ask the students what they think are the main differences between the two houses.

Ask the students to think about elections. Do they think that elections are important? Discuss the significance of general elections on Parliament and examine the benefits and processes of voting.

Talk to students about the different national organisations that help the consumer. How does the service they provide differ from the service offered by Local Trading Standards Departments?

  • Students will understand the way in which Central Government is set up and how MP's are elected.
  • Students will also understand the importance of voting and will realise how central government works to help Consumers.

Teachers Notes

What is Central Government?

Background Information

All societies have to make 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 is responsible to Parliament and this set up can collectively be described as Central Government.

It is important for students to understand the distinction between the words 'Parliament' and 'Government' and what we are actually referring to when we use these words

Parliament

The Parliament of the UK consists of :

They all work together to carry out the work of Parliament. The site of the Houses of Parliament is the Palace of Westminster (www.parliament.uk/works/palace.cfm).

Further teaching information on the UK Parliament website (www.parliament.uk/):

a) The work of Parliament (www.parliament.uk/works/parliament.cfm)

b) Parliamentary occasions (www.parliament.uk/works/occasion.cfm) includes:

Government

The Government can be described as the Managers of the country as it is their job to make many of the important day-to-day decisions. These decisions do, however, have to be approved by Parliament.

The Government consists of approximately 100 members of the political party that has the majority of seats in the House of Commons.

Further teaching information on the UK Parliament website (www.parliament.uk/):

a) The Party System (www.parliament.uk/works/pagovopp.cfm#party)

b) The accountability of the Government (www.parliament.uk/works/account.cfm)

Suggested Teaching Activity

Video and Materials

The Parliamentary Education Unit (www.parliament.uk/directories/educationunit.cfm) produces a DVD called 'You've Got the Power' which is split into modules explaining the role and work of Parliament. It is available at both primary and secondary level, each pack contains a DVD and supporting teachers notes which include lesson plans and worksheets.

Extension Work

The Department for Education and Skills has developed a Scheme of Work with suggested teaching activities in this area. (www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/schemes2/citizenship/cit06/)

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What are the main differences between the House of Lords and the House of Commons?

Background Notes

As previously stated, Parliament is made up of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. There are, however, several major differences between the 2 houses:

House of Lords

The House of Lords (www.parliament.uk/works/lords.cfm) is known as the second or upper chamber and its members (usually know as Peers) are not elected. They play a complimentary role in the work of Parliament and their powers are limited. The House of Lords is involved in the law-making process; it examines the work of the Government and it is also the highest appeal court in the UK.

Further teaching information on the UK Parliament's website:

a) The role of the House of Lords (www.parliament.uk/works/lords.cfm#lorole)

b) The organisation of the House of Lords (www.parliament.uk/works/lords.cfm#loorg)

c) The composition of the House of Lords (www.parliament.uk/works/locomp.cfm)

House of Commons

The House of Commons (www.parliament.uk/works/commonsgeneral.cfm) is the democratically elected chamber in our Parliamentary system where important matters are debated and decisions reached.

Further teaching information on the UK Parliament's website:

a) The role of the House of Commons (www.parliament.uk/works/commonsgeneral.cfm#role)

b) An example of a typical day's business (www.parliament.uk/parliament/guide/coday.htm)

c) The Speaker of the Commons (www.parliament.uk/works/speaker.cfm)

Suggested Teaching Activity

Quizzes and On-line Activity

The UK Parliament education website (www.explore.parliament.uk/) contains an area designed especially for secondary schools which contains puzzles as well as questions & answers.

Extension Work

The Department for Education and Skills have developed a Scheme of Work with suggested teaching activities in this area (www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/schemes2/citizenship/cit06/).

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How are member of the House of Commons elected?

Background Information

Fair and free elections are an essential part of a democracy, allowing the majority of citizens to determine how they would like their country to be governed.

They enable the electorate to participate in choosing the government and help to make the government accountable to the people.

Further teaching information on the UK Parliament (www.parliament.uk/) website:

Elections (www.parliament.uk/works/elections.cfm)

General Elections (www.parliament.uk/works/elections.cfm#genelec)

By-elections (www.parliament.uk/works/elections.cfm#byelec)

Constituencies and boundaries (www.parliament.uk/works/elections.cfm#constits)

Suggested Teaching Activity

Project Work

The Department for Education and Skills has developed a Scheme of Work with suggested teaching activities in this area (www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/schemes2/citizenship/cit06/)

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How can Central Government help Consumers?

Generally, the role of central government in consumer protection is to promote legislative policy, oversee the implementation of legislation and oversee the work of various government agencies. Very often the actual enforcement of legislation is left to local authorities.

Department of Trade and Industry

The Secretary of State for this Department is responsible for policy and legislation on consumer affairs, including trading standards, fair trading, weights and measures, consumer credit and consumer safety.

Office of Fair Trading

This is a government agency, the Chairman of which is appointed by the Secretary of State for Trade. It is the administrative headquarters from which the Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading exercises his various statutory responsibilities in connection with consumer protection, consumer credit and anti-competitive practices. The OFT, in addition, exercises important functions relating to consumer advice by publishing various informative leaflets and booklets.

Suggested Teaching Activity

Project Work

The Department for Education and Skills have developed a Scheme of Work with suggested teaching activities in this area(www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/schemes2/citizenship/cit06/).

Further information on the various Government Departments is also available from the A-Z of Central Government (www.direct.gov.uk/Dl1/Directories/AToZOfCentralGovernment/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=10013528&chk=8b2gQw)

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