Citizenship education inquiry 2006Citizenship Education: current state of play and recommendations
The Citizenship Foundation's written submission to the Education Select Committee
Tony Breslin, Don Rowe and Andy Thornton,
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About the Citizenship Foundation
- The Citizenship Foundation is an independent educational charity that aims to empower individuals to engage in the wider community through education about the law democracy and society. We focus, in particular, on developing young people’s Citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding.
What we mean by Citizenship and Citizenship Education
- It is important that we offer our own working definition of Citizenship. By Citizenship we mean the effective, informed engagement of individuals in their communities and in broader society around issues relating to the public domain.
Citizenship in the National Curriculum: the current state of play
- We see the introduction of Citizenship to the secondary school curriculum in 2002 as a long overdue but vital step and agree with Lawton that the introduction of Citizenship will come to be seen as the outstanding innovation in educational policy over the past decade.
- But we need more than this. Teachers and those who support them deserve praise for what has been achieved in the past three and a half years. The small, under-funded Citizenship teams at the DFES, QCA, OFSTED and the Learning and Skills Development Agency are doing an excellent job with far too little support. By comparison with the millions (rightfully) poured into literacy, numeracy, the Key Stage 3 strategy and 14-19 reform, Citizenship has been introduced on a shoestring.
Summary of Main Proposals: Establishing a National Strategy
- At the close of this paper we make twenty-seven recommendations that we urge the Education Select Committee to consider. Central to these is the establishment of a National Strategy for Teaching and Learning in Citizenship Education and, possibly, an associated National Centre of Excellence in Citizenship Education. Within the framework of such a strategy we need to develop:
- A coherent nationally coordinated approach to the initial training of teachers and school leaders and to their continuing professional development involving agencies and organisations such as the National College of School Leadership, TDA, the Association for Citizenship Teaching and, critically, Local Authorities such that every school has a designated and trained Citizenship specialist by 2010;
- A parallel programme for the training of OFSTED inspection teams and LA advisory times such that every inspection team and every LA has a designated and trained Citizenship specialist by 2008;
- New guidance clarifying the relationship between PSHE and Citizenship and reasserting the need to develop specialist teams to deliver these areas of the curriculum;
- Proposals for the introduction of Citizenship as a statutory requirement to primary schools with piloting from 2008 and implementation from 2010.
- In addition, as well as calling for research into a number of areas of practice, we believe that:
- The current reviews of the Key Stage 3 curriculum and of 14-19 provision must be used as opportunities to clarify and strengthen the position of Citizenship Education, as must any future developments in the inspection framework for schools;
- All primary and secondary schools should have a student council, or some other demonstrable form of student participation, in place by 2008;
- All primary and secondary schools should seek to position their volunteering and charitable giving activities in relation to the Citizenship curriculum, such that this curriculum informs such activity;
- Independent schools (including independent faith based schools) and academies should be required to deliver the Citizenship curriculum from September 2008;
- While debates about identity are critical to any understanding of Citizenship, delineating this as nationality is unhelpful to developing this understanding;
- The government ought to explore how to better enable UK practitioners in Citizenship Education to work with colleagues from overseas so as to advance best practice.
The Education Select Committee’s areas of interest
In this section, we respond in some detail to the priority areas identified by the Education Select Committee. In doing so we draw both on our own expert experience in the field and on research from organisations such as NFER (notably its ongoing longitudinal study into the impact of the introduction of Citizenship Education), QCA, DFES and OFSTED.
Links to particular recommendations are on a yellow background and numbered.
Teachers’ attitudes to Citizenship
- Studies by NFER and OFSTED reveal that teachers’ attitudes towards Citizenship vary across the profession. Some have enthusiastically welcomed the introduction of Citizenship, both because of the curriculum void that it has filled (notably around legal and political literacy) and because of the contribution that Citizenship makes to whole school life (especially in terms of pupil participation and community involvement). Others recognise its value but feel unqualified to deliver it, are concerned about the claim that it makes on what they see as a crowded timetable and are concerned about workload implications.
- Initially some teachers in other but related areas of the curriculum (such as History, PSHE and RE) viewed the introduction of Citizenship as a threat but this concern has declined as the subject - and a broader range of curriculum models - has developed.
- Many, notably those involved in the teaching of the social sciences, who had seen their work as being marginalised by the earlier models of the National Curriculum, have welcomed the introduction of Citizenship as an affirmation of the need for a broader and expert social curriculum with a focus, in particular, on developing young people’s political and legal literacy. Recommendation 4.
- Likewise, those teachers who have championed the causes of pupil participation, student voice, community involvement and charitable activity have welcomed the focus that Citizenship has given to these activities, placing them at the heart of school life rather than the margins of extra-curricular endeavour. Citizenship should also be seen to be strongly linked with schools’ behaviour policies and emotional literacy programmes.
- Citizenship’s previous status as a Cross Curricular Theme and the continuing tendency to talk about a ‘light touch’ approach to National Curriculum Citizenship (granting schools considerable autonomy about how they deliver Citizenship) has sent out mixed messages - especially to school leaders - about the current status of Citizenship, its position as a ‘real’ subject and the need for skilled and expert teachers to deliver it.
- The perceived and actual relationship between PSHE and Citizenship is particularly problematic with the prevalent view in a significant number of schools remaining that PSHE and Citizenship are indistinguishable and that they can be delivered by the same team of non-expert form tutors, a point refuted by research (NFER, OFSTED).
- There is considerable evidence (OFSTED, QCA, NFER) that governing bodies, heads and senior management teams are settling for this ‘default’ model of delivery (because it is least disruptive to the timetabling process and to staff allocation) and that they are failing to adequately resource Citizenship in terms of time, appropriate staffing and finance. Recommendation 5.
- Partly as a result of this ‘generalist’ approach, a significant number of teachers now teaching Citizenship have feelings of inadequacy because of their lack of training. Studies (NFER, OFSTED, QCA) reveal evidence of widespread uncertainties around aspects of Citizenship such as legal and political literacy, dealing with controversial issues, assessment and organising ‘active’ citizenship work in the community.
- The implementation of Citizenship is likely to be least effective when already busy, non-specialists are obliged to take on this work and most effective when Citizenship is delivered by teachers who are keen, willing and trained and when the benefits to the broader school - in terms of both student achievement and social inclusion - are recognised by senior managers including, critically, the head teacher.
A minority regard the subject as an unwelcome addition to the curriculum with some school leaders apparently resistant to implementing it in their school. We regard the latter stance as an unacceptable professional response since Citizenship is a National Curriculum requirement.
There is evidence that some schools are not yet persuaded that Citizenship should be regarded as a ‘real’ subject alongside those that are already established. Stronger support from ministers and other visible signs of central support, such as a National Strategy for the subject, would be welcome. Recommendations 1, 2 and 3.
The Foundation has strongly urged all those in positions of influence and authority to make it quite clear that this model of delivery (namely, that matters as distinct and as complex as sex and drugs education and Citizenship are best delivered by form tutors) has been shown to have failed to deliver the quality required for either subject (PSHE or Citizenship) and to have any impact on students’ behaviour or attitudes.
There is a proper role for form tutors in supporting Citizenship activities within the school (e.g. in supporting school council work) but it is not in the expert delivery of complex and demanding subjects dealing with controversial or sensitive issues.
Initial teacher training and CPD
- The development of an expert teaching base in many schools remains, at best, in its infancy - the inflow of specialist trained Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) is insufficient and the ongoing provision for ‘training-up’ practising teachers (CPD) is wholly inadequate and lacks national coordination - it is vital that every school has at least one trained citizenship specialist, a target that modest funding could achieve, by 2010. Recommendation 6.
- With regard to initial teacher training, the TDA has set an annual target of training about 240 Citizenship NQTs but has consistently failed to achieve these numbers in spite of the fact that PGCE courses in Citizenship are significantly oversubscribed and good potential trainees are being turned away.
- For 2006-07 the numbers entering PGCE (teacher training) courses are set to fall to around 230 as the TDA has announced that it plans to reduce the number of Citizenship training places in line with reductions in other subjects. This is a short-sighted move and one that is at odds with ministerial priorities. Recommendation 7.
- The position with regard to CPD is bleaker still with access to CPD varying from school to school and LA to LA, dependent on school leadership team and LA priorities and resultant resource allocation. Nationally, the picture is extremely patchy with good levels of support in some local authorities, compared with virtually none in others.
- The position with regard to preparing school inspectors for the introduction of Citizenship in September 2002 showed a similar lack of strategic thinking. Despite having two years to prepare for the introduction of Citizenship, the inspectorate (HMI and OFSTED) did not provide any systematic training for its inspectors until 2004 and this training remains optional.
- The DFES strategy to support teachers’ Continuing Professional Development in Citizenship has had five major components:
Without a more centralised National Strategy, it is difficult to see how these local difficulties can be overcome.
This means that, in many inspection teams, there is no inspector specifically qualified in Citizenship and able to make judgements about the quality of teaching or students’ work. Recommendation 8.
- the establishment, with start-up funding, of the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT) in 2002;
- the launch of a National CPD team of regional advisers based in the DFES in 2003;
- the establishment of a network of approximately 60 Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs) in Citizenship;
- the commissioning, production and distribution of the CPD Manual, Making Sense of Citizenship (which has recently been distributed to schools);
- the piloting of a National Certificate in Citizenship Teaching for practicing teachers, a vital initiative which is to be launched later this year and which will apparently involve the training of 600 teachers in 2006-07 and 600 in 2007-08. Recommendation 9.
- We welcome these initiatives but note that the Association for Citizenship Teaching is reliant on the renewal of an annual grant for its further development (ACT serves a membership of approximately 1200 with only two paid officers – an administrator and an experienced Citizenship teacher), that the AST network is too small to fulfil its potential and that the structuring and funding of the National CPD Advisory Team (now disbanded) is wholly inadequate.
- The National CPD Advisory Team, based around a team of regional advisers who worked with LA advisers, ASTs and school based Citizenship Coordinators - is illustrative of the failure to establish a systematic and coordinated approach to the introduction of Citizenship.
- One strategic opportunity that is currently being missed relates to coupling the whole school dimension of Citizenship provision with the development of school leaders through the programmes offered by the increasingly influential National College of School Leadership, notably the Leading from the Middle programme and the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).
The original intention to base an adviser in each of nine government regions was scaled back to the appointment of four advisers working full time in the first year and three advisors, each working two days a week, in year two - the equivalent of 1.2 full-time posts nationally - little more than we would hope each Local Authority to have. Again, a National Strategy is needed.
Whilst we recognise that NCSL programmes do not usually have a subject focus, no school leader should qualify without being required to understand the relationship between the taught component of Citizenship and the expression of “Citizenship-rich” values through the school’s ethos and values: its equal opportunities and social cohesion policies, its participation strategies and community involvement matters and its leadership style. Recommendation 10.
Role of Local Authorities in supporting school staff
- In many Local Authorities (LAs) there is no adviser specialising in Citizenship - instead Citizenship is one of many responsibilities and often one that the adviser has limited expertise in. The National CPD Advisory Team, reporting on their experience (in an unpublished report to the DFES) found that these LA advisers felt uncertain and lacked the confidence to take a clear lead in this area, not least because they lacked the appropriate expertise, time and resources. Recommendation 11.
- This is, at least in part, the result of the switch in LAs from subject based advisory teams to generic school improvement focused teams. The timing of this change in approach has been broadly concurrent with the introduction of Citizenship to the National Curriculum and has, therefore, had an acute and particular impact on LA support for the subject: Citizenship has often been unable to establish itself at LA level leaving school leaders and classroom practitioners isolated.
- In this context, LAs have largely failed to connect the Citizenship agenda to their broader efforts to support school improvement and raise standards, in spite of the emergence of evidence from research that suggests some kind of link between strong Citizenship provision - especially around pupil participation - with both higher levels of achievement and a more inclusive school ethos, resulting in fewer exclusions. While it would be facile to claim a direct relationship between, for example, a school’s commitment to Citizenship Education and to league table position, LA’s have a key role to play in ensuring that school’s do retain a focus on the broader development of the young people in their care, especially in light of the Every Child Matters agenda.
- A vital role for LAs remains in leading on the establishment of local support networks - relatively few LA’s have established these networks or the frameworks necessary for this. Nor have connections with other areas of LA activity been made - for instance with colleagues working on youth forums or in democratic services.
- Evidence collected by the Citizenship Foundation, including data from a recent questionnaire survey, and by the Association for Citizenship Teaching underlines the value placed by teachers on local advisory support and on local practitioner networks. Working groups of locally based practitioners enable the sharing of experience and the development of best practice.
- Standards of student achievement in Citizenship are expected to be comparable to standards achieved in other subjects at Key Stages 3 and 4. However, without appropriate levels of support available at local level, this is an unrealistic expectation.
- For this reason, we argue that every LA should provide a dedicated adviser or advisory teacher for Citizenship by 2008 and that these should act as coordinators for local teacher networks so as to ensure that over the next few years, the profession becomes skilled up sufficiently to be able to deliver good quality Citizenship Education for all pupils, as is their statutory curriculum entitlement.
- In particular, these LA coordinators should be encouraged, and enabled through appropriate resourcing, to work with Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs) and other accredited specialists to drive up the quality of provision. Without such local coordination the potential offered by the AST model is often unfulfilled.
- The current diversity of local provision underlines the need for a clear National Strategy for Teaching and Learning in Citizenship that provides central support for LAs and which sets out entitlements for schools in respect of training, support and guidance together with a nationally agreed set of targets for schools in respect of levels of specialist and/or trained teachers in the medium term. Without such a National Strategy the level of teacher or school support is left to chance and standards across the board will continue to vary widely.
Continuity of Citizenship from KS1-4 and post-16
- When supporting and assessing progression in Citizenship learning it is vital to look across provision at any fixed point as well as along the conventional age-related continuums - continuity across classroom based curriculum provision, whole school activity and community engagement projects has been one of the major benefits to arise from introducing the “subject-plus” model of Citizenship Education.
- Educational research makes clear that Citizenship learning (e.g. around concepts such as fairness, rights and responsibilities) takes place from the early years, even before children begin formal schools and, therefore, the primary school is of crucial importance in developing Citizenship understanding, skills, values and attitudes.
- The Citizenship Foundation has always argued that the failure to make Citizenship Education statutory in the primary school was a missed opportunity and results in developmental delay in this area. There are examples of excellent Citizenship practice in the primary phase on which to build but we argue that that current provision (based on a non-statutory joint framework for PSHE and Citizenship) is inadequate. Thus, Citizenship Education is under-recognised and under-developed in the primary phase. This is especially the case in Key Stage 2 where issues such as bullying, stealing, the role of the police, respect for law, and community cohesion issues are commonly addressed but not always from a Citizenship perspective or in a consistent manner. Moreover, the risk is that key issues are overlooked. For example, young people are criminally responsible at age ten, but this significant fact and its implications, are not systematically communicated to primary school pupils as part of the statutory curriculum.
- Granting Citizenship ‘Foundation Subject’ (compulsory) status in the primary phase would ensure that students embarking on their secondary school careers have had a comparable induction into the key principles of social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy and the associated knowledge and skills. By political literacy in the primary years, we mean learning to grasp the key political ideas at an inter-personal level, including ideas of justice, equality, respect, rights and duties. Recommendation 12.
- At Key Stage 3, we view with concern talk about ‘slimming down’ the curriculum as part of the current Key Stage 3 review being undertaken by QCA. Any revisions to practice should proceed from an analysis of the purpose and coherence of the curriculum as a whole. Given the ‘light touch’ of the first National Curriculum framework, we argue that there is no case for slimming down Citizenship in particular. The review should instead be taken as an opportunity to provide clearer guidance as to the focus and purpose of the Citizenship work undertaken by students at Key Stages 3 and 4. Especially at Key Stage 3, there is still a tendency for untrained teachers to fall back on the tedious details of civic knowledge rather than to explore the knowledge and skills required for the development of a genuine political literacy. Recommendation 13.
- Likewise, the emergence of a 14-19 framework - something that could do much to improve the transition from pre to post-16 learning in Citizenship and in other areas - needs to have a commitment to Citizenship Education at its core, which could be achieved by making it an expectation that all students follow a core Citizenship component of their academic studies or diploma courses. The Post-16 Citizenship Education Development Project, led by the Learning and Skills Development Agency, has much to offer those working on the revision of this aspect of Citizenship Education practice. Recommendation 14.
- Assessment, in various forms, has a vital role to play in supporting progression in Citizenship learning through the Key Stages and educational phases and we welcome the recent work of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and the awarding bodies in this respect. Whilst we recognise that assessment in Citizenship can be problematic, and it has its opponents on perfectly reasonable academic and social grounds, we nevertheless recognise the need to assess and evaluate students’ progress in Citizenship. Teachers need to be able to make judgements about the impact of their teaching on students’ learning and to revise their strategies accordingly and students and parents require information about progress being made.
- We also acknowledge the contribution that assessment frameworks (including public examinations) make to the perceived value and standing of a subject, especially a new (and new type of) subject such as Citizenship. It is important, though, that teachers continue to assess and celebrate student achievement across the full range of Citizenship activities in and beyond the classroom, such that the proper emphasis on assessment does not have the unintended consequence of reducing Citizenship to nothing more that a paper exercise and another examination.
- At present, the issue of assessing progress in Citizenship is undermined by the lack of support from QCA as a whole into researching the broader relationship between assessment, progression in learning and the development of social, moral and political thinking. There is much good quality psychological research on which to build a clear picture of how to assess progress in this subject (and from which other subjects might learn). Officers in the Citizenship team at QCA have done what they can on a very meagre budget but much more development work in this area is needed. As with our discussion of CPD, inspection and LA support, this again points to a general failure to take a strategic overview of how to build all the necessary components of a new subject. Recommendation 15.
- There is a notable lack of government funded curriculum development work in this, as in other subjects at the moment. The government’s erstwhile plan to establish a National Centre of Excellence in Citizenship Education, amongst other subjects, would go a long way to meeting this criticism. Curriculum development has been largely left to subject associations and other organisations in the NGO sector, themselves working on limited resources and often in isolation from each other. Curriculum needs constantly change as education and society changes - a fact which is not properly addressed at present, in Citizenship or in other areas of the curriculum. Recommendation 16.
Quality of citizenship across all schools including faith schools
- Citizenship Education is about inducting young people into public life and all schools have an important part to play in this process.
- There is evidence, notably from the NFER study, that some faith-based schools have been especially effective in addressing aspects of active citizenship, for instance around community involvement and in the area of volunteering and charitable giving.
- Faith schools, however, can, as the former Chief Inspector has remarked, face particular issues in delivering Citizenship as part of the National Curriculum - notably in dealing with particular controversial issues and, specifically, those issues that might be controversial in a given faith setting. There is a concern that schools, in receipt of public money, may not be sufficiently honouring their duty to induct young people into what it means to live in a democratic society with all that means about tolerance of pluralism, difference and human rights and about the importance of minority ethnic groups fully participating in the democratic life of the wider community.
- National Curriculum Citizenship, as a statutory requirement in state funded faith schools, is one counter to this concern and can make a significant contribution to community cohesion, to the development and affirmation of identity and to the ‘ownership’ of mainstream society felt by members of minority groups. However, the trend towards more ‘separatist’ schooling, while understandable from a human rights standpoint, must not lead to a fragmentation in the quality and content of the Citizenship curricula offered. Specific research in this area - the delivery of the Citizenship in faith-based schools - is needed so as to build a broader understanding of practice and of the issues faced. Recommendation 17.
- These concerns - which often come down to a willingness to tackle controversial issues ‘head-on’ and with objectivity are not exclusive to faith schools (and can be equally prevalent in non-faith schools where students are drawn predominantly from specific faith communities) but in faith schools the overt belief system of the school can tempt some teachers to ‘avoidance’ and this avoidance can be further institutionalised in independent faith schools and academies where there is no obligation to follow the National Curriculum. Supporting the introduction of Citizenship into all schools, including those currently without a duty to follow the National Curriculum - would go some way to addressing this concern. Recommendation 18.
Citizenship education and current debates about British-ness and identity
- We recognise that there are legitimate concerns around social cohesion and that Citizenship Education has an important role to play in addressing such concerns, a point that we discuss substantively in the next section. We also recognise that sometimes these debates are crystallised around the concept of “British-ness” and around associated ideas about what it means to educate young people in the patriotic values of respect for public institutions and for one’s own country. Indeed, this type of focus has been the predominant civic value underpinning Citizenship curricula in a number of countries.
- There are, though, drawbacks to such an approach: first, there is the danger of indoctrination into a narrow, fixed, uncritical and intolerant nationalism; second, there is the reality that teachers in the UK have not traditionally seen themselves as being in the business of ‘instilling a love of country’; third, there is now evidence of a shift in many other countries towards the kind of approach employed in UK - with a focus on Citizenship being about an active, engaging process rather than a form of nationality.
- There are, of course, legitimate ways in which schools should nurture a proper concern for what goes on in local, national and international communities and, in this context, it is vital that young people learn about the UK’s social, political and legal structures, practices and traditions. This, though, should enable, rather than be at the expense of, encouraging a critical evaluation of the actions of individual citizens, public bodies and the state.
- Thus, in respect of teaching about the concept of British-ness within the Citizenship curriculum, we argue for a carefully measured approach that recognises the complexity of the term. “British-ness” is a contested concept, for some specific, others dynamic, and others nebulous. Students should, though, be enabled to enter British public life as knowledgeable and capable citizens, whatever their primary cultures and values. Recommendation 19.
- The notion of identity is more helpful than nationality in any exploration of British-ness or living in the UK. Students should be clear about the concept of multiple and changing identities and how they engage these identities. The development of multiple identities is essential to all citizens, so that they can reconcile personal or ‘private’ values with those of the public community. Our private values drive and determine our view of the ‘good society’ and motivate us to act in the public domain. Therefore, it is imperative that these different identities come to be reconciled and integrated within the personality. This is a complex process, more so for some than others, and schools need to give young people proper space and the opportunity to think about what it means for them, underlying the valuable contribution that Citizenship makes to the curriculum. We believe further work needs to be done in this area to support teachers addressing these difficult issues at classroom level. Recommendation 20.
- A further area of exploration that might be investigated relates to the links between the Citizenship Education programmes now undertaken by those seeking naturalisation and the school curriculum. Both programmes are based on the framework for Citizenship devised by Professor Sir Bernard Crick and his colleagues but connections between the learning programmes delivered ought to be mapped. Consideration ought to be given to the relationship between the programme followed by young person in the school and the programme followed by the parent in the college or distance-learning course, especially if the shared title of Citizenship is employed. Recommendation 21.
Contribution of Citizenship to Community Cohesion
- The “subject-plus” model of Citizenship has shown itself to be effective in encouraging schools to develop innovative community links in any number of ways. Social action initiatives, such as the Citizenship Foundation’s Youth Act and Giving Nation programmes, encourage acts of engagement that are both informed and critical, developing the skills base and the political literacy required for purposeful community engagement. This active citizenship reinforces community cohesion and community safety at a number of individual and social levels. For example, when groups of young people within our Youth Act Programme address gun crime and bullying within their communities, they are developing as effective and empowered citizens and making a significant contribution to the well-being of all in their community.
- These models of community engagement draw as much on the skills of youth workers, Connexions advisers and community workers as they do teachers and other school staff and take forward related agendas around youth participation, community safety, anti-racism and children’s rights. They illustrate the need for teachers to connect with the many resources freely available from outside the school setting in order to make the most of Citizenship’s school based potential.
- However, to reiterate the point made in 4.1 above, NFER research informs us that too many schools are slow in realising the potential of the Citizenship curriculum to connect classroom activity with community activity and, further, that they do not see the link between this kind of activity and the development of community cohesion within and beyond the school’s boundaries. Recommendation 22.
- With regard to anti-racism, respect and equality are core values of the Citizenship curriculum, a curriculum that enables schools to play a key role in prejudice reduction but, as detailed in 5.5 above, ‘avoidance’ remains a problem in certain contexts and where the teacher is (or feels) inexpert in the area concerned, underlying the need for good quality training and support.
- The Citizenship Foundation has had significant success in developing multi-professional and all-age community forums that bridge the gap between the school and the community and has demonstrated how, working in partnership with the Home Office, LA supported Citizens’ Days can perform a similar function but such initiatives need professional coordination, dedicated LA support, secure funding and coordinated voluntary sector input to flourish. Recommendation 23.
Implementation of ‘active’ aspects of the curriculum including community involvement and participation in school life
- The concept of the “citizenship-rich” school, developed at the Citizenship Foundation, notably through its innovative Citizenship Manifestos programme, is proving effective in bringing together in a coherent way the many elements of an all-embracing programme of Citizenship Education, including elements around participation in school life and community involvement - elements that, as noted in 7.3 above, are often seen as disparate and unconnected. Forms of student participation include membership of school councils, taking part in “students as researchers” projects, acting as associate members of school governing bodies (an option since 2003 but little used by schools), all of which build Citizenship skills and knowledge and democratise aspects of school life. In a number of countries, it is now mandatory for schools to have a student council of some description and, in the UK, Wales has recently taken this step. While we would welcome more research on the impact of different models of student participation, we can see no sound case for not requiring both primary and secondary schools to have representative councils. Recommendation 24.
- Forms of community engagement include taking part in volunteering programmes and charitable initiatives, membership of school charity committees and participation in peer mentoring and good neighbour schemes, all of which, again, build the knowledge, skills for effective citizenship. NOP research commissioned by the Citizenship Foundation’s Giving Nation project suggests that charitable activities undertaken during schooling as part of the Citizenship curriculum encourage the formation of critical and informed predispositions to charitable giving and volunteering, increasing students’ intended future support of charitable and community action by 33% and 50% respectively. Recommendation 25.
- Building participation within and beyond the school’s boundaries sits squarely with the recommendations of both the Crick Report and the Russell Commission and with the Every Child Matters agenda and related initiatives around youth participation and learner voice. The benefits of such activity in terms of personal development, Citizenship learning, community cohesion and community safety have already been set out in section 7 above.
- The position of Citizenship within the National Curriculum has enabled schools to give a new status to existing student participation and community involvement practices and allows their positioning within the mainstream of schooling, drawing such activities out of the arena of personal choice and into the arena of public life.
Curriculum design and appropriateness of DFES and other guidance
- One of the successes of the Citizenship curriculum in its present form is that is conceived of as both a subject in the conventional sense (with a body of knowledge and requiring dedicated teaching time and trained teachers) and as a new kind of subject that finds expression through the ethos or culture of the school and in the school’s relationship with the community that it serves. This “subject plus” model is based on the understanding that Citizenship is learned cognitively via the curriculum, affectively, though curriculum and real life experiences and experientially through doing and facilitates the development of holistic and healthy approaches to Citizenship learning.
- DFES, QCA and OFSTED have produced a range of documents that have provided very useful guidance to schools, notably the schemes of work produced by QCA (which now could usefully be re-visited), the DFES School Self-evaluation Tool, a very helpful guide to whole school approaches, the recent QCA document on assessment at Key Stage 3 and the CPD handbook, Making Sense of Citizenship on which the Citizenship Foundation took the lead role and which we have sent to members of the Select Committee. However, the dedicated teams at both DFES and QCA are under-sized and under-resourced by comparison with those dedicated to the support of other areas of the statutory curriculum, especially if they are to deliver the kind of National Strategy for Teaching and Learning in Citizenship that we have called for above. Recommendation 26.
Practice in other countries
- In recent years there has been a growing interest in research into comparative approaches to Citizenship Education internationally – examples include the INCA (International Curriculum and Assessment) study of Citizenship involving eighteen countries, and the Council of Europe’s All-European Study of Policies for Education for Democratic Citizenship.
- Studies like these tend to show that Citizenship Education (as education for active engagement as opposed to traditional conceptions of civic education) is still at the early stages as a major policy initiative in many, if not most, other countries. Many countries are currently planning or are involved in major reforms in this area and the Citizenship Foundation, working with the Council of Europe and the British Council has been involved recently in initiatives in the Balkans, Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Egypt, Estonia, Oman and Bahrain.
- There has been an element of civic or Citizenship Education in the school curricula of a large number of other countries for many years and, in this respect, the UK is a late convert to the need for some form of socio-political education as a statutory provision. However, elsewhere this has often consisted largely of instructing young people about the political system in place in their country using formal teaching methods. The underlying model of Citizenship Education has been a passive and minimal one based around a ‘civics’ model and involving not much more than the love of country and a passive obedience to the law
- Recently, however, this type of practice has come under serious challenge in many countries, and new models of Citizenship Education have been, or are, in the process of being introduced. Such models emphasise the need for citizens who are not only informed about their system of government and respect the rule of law, but who are also ‘active’ citizens - able and willing to make positive and responsible contributions to the life of their communities, their countries and the wider world.
- The ‘drivers’ for these new approaches vary from country to country and include: national, ethnic and religious conflict; global threats and insecurity; economic globalisation; the pluralisation of society and rapid population movements; mistrust of traditional political institutions and processes and demand for increasing personal autonomy and new forms of equality. Further, the emphasis within this new approach on democratic accountability and human rights, including the rights of disadvantaged groups such as the disabled and other minorities, underlines the important contribution that this new conception of Citizenship Education can make to conflict resolution, democratic governance accountability and transparency.
- The British Council and the Council of Europe have played a key role in this arena. However, the Council of Europe often struggles to fund international educational projects, such as the programme that the Citizenship Foundation was involved with in Bosnia, at a level that enables UK practitioners – especially those who are based in NGOs – to play a full role and the British Council initiatives appear to be organised on an ad-hoc basis.
- As an organisation that is committed to developing practice both in the UK and elsewhere and one that recognises the lessons for UK practice that flow from international activity, the paucity and precariousness of funding frustrates our efforts to approach international work in a systematic and strategic manner. Ring-fenced funding streams to support this work at the British Council and in government departments and agencies would do much to address this issue and would allow organisations such as the Citizenship Foundation to play a stronger role in the process. Recommendation 27.
- The UK (and England in particular) is regarded as a world leader in the development of best practice in Citizenship Education and in advising on the development of Citizenship Education as a curriculum entitlement. The approaches that have been developed here (based on a “subject-plus” conception of Citizenship in the curriculum, the centrality of human rights values and the development of “Citizenship-rich” schools as the contexts for active learning in this field) are now recognised as a means for developing forms of engaged critical and informed democratic citizenship in other countries. We submit that the government should urgently look at ways and means of raising its contribution to this vitally important international movement
Our work includes Citizenship resources for a wide audience from teachers to young offenders, nationwide training programmes, national active learning projects for secondary schools and community-based projects to develop citizenship education as a collective responsibility beyond school and college boundaries.
This is a definition of Citizenship based around participation and ‘process’ rather than a narrower one that refers to an individual’s legal status in terms of, for instance, nationality.
This engagement requires that young people are educated for Citizenship and that they develop a range of knowledge, skills and dispositions. They need to know about politics, law, economics, the functioning of communities and social groups and their responsibilities in terms of these communities and groups. And they need to feel confident in applying this knowledge; they need a ‘toolkit’ of Citizenship skills: investigating, communicating, participating, negotiating, taking responsible action. Critically, effective, rather than merely ‘active’, Citizenship is both underpinned by and develops the individual’s political literacy.
Effective Citizenship flows from good Citizenship Education. Necessarily, some of this is delivered in settings that are “outside” the classroom and some of this involves drawing new partners - youth workers, representatives of community groups and public bodies, local politicians - into the school’s community, prompting innovative work within the classroom.
For this reason, we talk of Citizenship as both a new subject and a new type of subject and we argue for a “subject-plus” mode of delivery: dedicated, timetabled teaching time and a range of whole school and community involvement activities that allow young people to experience Citizenship and to develop the skills and dispositions cited above.
As the respected educational academic Denis Lawton has put it, “…Citizenship Education is important for its intrinsic value, as well as its potential to exert a benevolent influence on the culture of schools and schooling. It is important in terms of curriculum, pedagogy and the organisation and structure of schools”.
Although practice is still developing, we, like Lawton, see good quality Citizenship Education as not only crucial in its own right but as an important component in school improvement and transformation. We recognise (as do NFER, QCA and OFSTED) that a significant number of schools are engaged in excellent practice in delivering this “subject-plus” model noted above, that they are genuinely becoming “citizenship-rich” as institutions, energised by strong teaching and by student and community participation.
There is, though, much still to do. Too many schools are delivering the Citizenship curriculum in a literal sense but are perhaps less committed or confident in letting students develop their Citizenship skills through participation in the community and the life of the school. Still others are facilitating community participation but are not pulling this together through a clearly signposted and well-taught Citizenship programme on the timetable.
And studies concur that a declining group - perhaps fifteen or twenty per cent - are doing little, perhaps hoping that Citizenship is a passing initiative that will go the way of others. Strong political leadership, consistent messages about the permanence of Citizenship in the curriculum and clear inspectorial intent are needed if we are to convince this group to change their ways and if we are to support others.
There has been no coherent, strategic approach that embraces the training of current and new teachers, the establishment and sustainability of support networks and the preparation of inspectors and school leaders.
The result is that too many teachers have had little or no support in delivering a new and complex subject and that access to such support, save for the excellent work of the Association for Citizenship Teaching and the established Citizenship NGOs, has been defined by the school and/or Local Authority that the individual teacher finds his or herself working in.
RecommendationsFollowing the discussion in Parts B to E, we would urge the Education Select Committee to consider the following recommendations:
- OFSTED should give special attention to the status accorded to Citizenship, especially by school leadership teams, when inspecting schools and this should be reflected in a range of inspection tools such as the Evidence Forms used by inspectors and the School Self-Assessment form;
- Ministers need to ensure that a higher profile is given to Citizenship Education, especially in addresses, announcements and policy papers;
- A centrally coordinated and resourced National Strategy for Teaching and Learning in Citizenship, akin to the National Literacy Strategy and the Key Stage 3 Strategy, with a central focus on CPD, is required if the current deficit in teachers’ skills and confidence is to be addressed;
- Schools should be encouraged to undertake staff audits so as to identify those who may have academic experience especially pertinent to the teaching of Citizenship, especially those with backgrounds in humanities and social science subjects not represented in the current National Curriculum;
- Schools should be issued with curriculum advice that clarifies the distinction and the relationship between Citizenship and PSHE and strongly discourages them from delivering the two subjects in an undifferentiated joint framework through non-specialist tutor based teams;
- By 2010, every school should have at least one trained Citizenship specialist, qualified through either a PGCE in Citizenship Education, the National CPD Certificate in Citizenship or an agreed performance management process that takes account of their academic and professional experience;
- The proposed reduction in the 2006-07 training target for Citizenship PGCE entrants (trainee teachers) should be reversed and affirmative action should be taken in respect of meeting the target set in Recommendation 6 (above) and in light of the high demand for course places;
- By 2008 every secondary school inspection team should include at least one inspector who has undertaken specialist training in the inspection of Citizenship;
- We commend the national roll out of the National CPD Certificate in Citizenship from 2006-07 but ask for a commitment to the further roll out of the programme through to 2009-10 in light of the target set in target 6 (above) and that the Certificate be positioned in terms of the National Strategy called for in Recommendation 3 (above);
- The National College of School Leadership should be asked to explore the development of a module focused around leadership in the Citizenship-rich school for its Leading from the Middle and National Professional Qualification for Headship programmes and the accreditation of the National CPD Certificate in Citizenship within these programmes;
- By 2008 every LA should have a designated adviser who has undertaken specialist training in Citizenship and who has a remit for the establishment of local support networks for Citizenship practitioners working in partnership with ASTs and the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT);
- The DFES should commission QCA to begin work on the development of proposals for a statutory curriculum for Citizenship in primary schools with a view to piloting from 2008 and implementation from 2010;
- The current Key Stage 3 review should be used as an opportunity to develop, sustain and enhance Citizenship as a Foundation Subject in the secondary National Curriculum;
- The parallel review of 14-19 Education should be used to strengthen and clarify the entitlement to Citizenship learning opportunities, especially for those in education and training in the 16-19 phase;
- The DFES should commission QCA to undertake development work on the relationship between assessment, progression in learning and the development of social, moral and political thinking;
- The DFES should revisit the concept of establishing a National Centre of Excellence in Citizenship Education as part of the National Strategy set out in Recommendation 3 (above);
- The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and other appropriate bodies should be commissioned to undertake research into the delivery of Citizenship Education in state and independent faith based schools and in state and independent schools where a single minority faith is predominant;
- Independent schools should be required to deliver the Citizenship curriculum;
- Through the Citizenship curriculum schools should nurture a proper concern for how local, national and international communities operate, an understanding of what this country has contributed to political and legal frameworks internationally and an understanding of what role individuals can play in British public life;
- Further research into teaching about complex matters of identity and multiple identities and how young people engage with these should be encouraged;
- QCA should be encouraged to look at the relationship between the content and approach of National Curriculum Citizenship and ‘Citizenship’ Education programmes offered to adults seeking naturalisation as part of the current curriculum review;
- The School Self Evaluation Form that schools complete as a part of the recently introduced OFSTED process should be revised so as to position student, parental and community engagement activity within the broader framework of Citizenship provision;
- The Citizens’ Day model piloted in four local authority areas by the Home Office with advisory support from the Citizenship Foundation and the earlier work by the Citizenship Foundation should be reviewed as to their potential for national roll out;
- All primary and secondary schools should have a student council, or some other demonstrable form of student participation, in place by 2008;
- All primary and secondary schools should seek to position their volunteering and charitable giving activities in relation to the Citizenship curriculum, such that this curriculum informs such activity;
- The government should reflect urgently on the resources allocated to the Citizenship Education teams at the DFES and in agencies such as OFSTED, TDA, QCA and LSDA with a view to increasing the support that they are offered;
- The British Council and government departments and agencies concerned with international issues should ring fence funding for overseas work around the theme Education for Democratic Citizenship and should work with NGOs and other advisory and practitioner bodies to establish mechanisms by which these resources can be accessed.
We will be pleased to provide further literature on any of the issues raised in this submission or to attend meetings of the Education Select Committee, should members of the committee wish to explore the issues discussed or recommendations made in this submission further.
Tony Breslin (Chief Executive)
Don Rowe (Director, Curriculum Development and Resources)
Andy Thornton (Director, Participation and Social Action)