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Citizenship Foundation's response to the UK National Curriculum Review 2011

Citizenship Foundation's response to the UK National Curriculum Review 2011

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Published by: Citizenship Foundation on Apr 14, 2011
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Citizenship Foundation response to the National Curriculum Review Call for Evidence

As one of the founding members of Democratic Life and the organisation that provides the secretariat support to that campaign, the Citizenship Foundation requests that the Democratic Life submission is viewed as our substantive response. In this submission we will cover areas that were either not addressed by Democratic Life or that could be further expanded on, drawing on the Citizenship Foundation’s unique experience. This submission will cover these main points: • The Citizenship Foundation: a brief introduction to our work; • Response to the citizenship education questions (15a, b, c and e) from the Call for Evidence; • Further evidence from our experience of supporting citizenship education in schools; • Further evidence taken from our research in the PRU setting.

The Citizenship Foundation
The Citizenship Foundation is an independent education and participation charity that aims to encourage and enable individuals to engage in democratic society. Founded in 1989, our particular focus is on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding of the law, democracy and public life. We do this by: • championing civic participation; • supporting teachers, schools and colleges with the delivery of citizenship education; • working with young people in community-settings on issues that concern them. 1

Our work includes the development of citizenship resources, nationwide training programmes, national active learning projects for primary and secondary schools and community-based projects. The Citizenship Foundation also contributes to policy debates and in 2002 was part of the cross-party movement that successfully advocated for the inclusion of citizenship as a statutory subject in the secondary school curriculum. The Foundation continues to champion the value of citizenship education, and its constituent parts, by taking part in developing policy discussions and by working closely with policy-makers.

Response to specific call for evidence questions: Citizenship (section E)
Question 15a) Citizenship is currently a compulsory NC subject, with a statutory Programme of Study, at KS 3 and 4. In future, do you think citizenship should continue to be a NC subject? Yes. We are convinced that citizenship must remain a compulsory National Curriculum subject at key stages 3 and 4. Significant progress has been made in schools since its introduction. Citizenship should also be a compulsory National Curriculum subject at key stage 2. Citizenship is a unique subject combining academic knowledge of politics, law and the economy with practical social action. No other subject addresses these areas of knowledge or skills. Citizenship teaches students knowledge of democracy including political institutions, parliament and government; justice including the operation of the justice system, the law and the courts; rights and responsibilities including political, legal and human rights; identities and diversity including how British society is changing; how devolved government and politics work; and the role of the UK internationally. This essential knowledge is contextualised and brought to life through the critical exploration of contemporary local, national, European and international issues and examples. The National Curriculum should not only prepare students for further education and employment, it must also equip them with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to play an effective role in public life. As 2010’s IEA study of Civics and Citizenship (ICCS) shows how knowledge underpins participation: students with higher civic knowledge reported greater likelihood to participate in elections and in society now and in the future.1 Citizenship knowledge is therefore essential to developing politically literate, responsible and active citizens who can make a positive contribution to our economy, communities and democratic society.
The ICCS surveyed over 140,000 students in more than 5,300 schools from 38 countries including Finland, Korea, Taipei, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Spain and England. Student data were augmented by data from more than 62,000 teachers in those schools. ICCS published an International Report and a European Report in late November 2010. (See IEA (2010). ICCS 2009 International Report: Civic knowledge, attitudes and engagement among lower secondary school students in thirty-eight countries. Amsterdam.)


Question 15b) If yes, at what stages should this apply. Citizenship must be retained as a National Curriculum subject at key stages 3 and 4. Citizenship should also be made statutory at key stage 2 to enhance the progress made by children at key stages 3 and 4, to ensure more children reach the expected standards in the subject and in recognition of the fact that many educationalists and primary schools agree that citizenship is an essential part of the curriculum they teach. Where primary schools teach about rights and responsibilities, such as through the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools Programme, behaviour and engagement in learning improve.2 Indeed, our experience delivering Go-Givers, the Citizenship Foundation’s flagship programme for primary schools, has convinced us of the benefits citizenship education brings to the primary school setting. This Cabinet Office funded programme has conducted research inquiring into the attitudes and behaviours of Key Stage 2 pupils, which has shown that they are remarkably empathetic, aware of social issues and ready to mobilise, but with little opportunity to do so. 3 The success of Go-Givers (to date nearly 15,000 subscribers and over 25 per cent of primary schools in England have registered with the programme) demonstrates not only the potential for citizenship education in primary schools, but also the demand from teachers and schools for this learning. Citizenship at key stage 2 will ensure all children benefit from the very best start in primary education. It will give them a grounding in knowledge and understanding of the way our society is organised and help them make sense of our complex world. A secure basis of citizenship knowledge and understanding on which children can build and make progress will be significant in improving outcomes through their secondary education. Indeed, the final report of the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS) found that students in the CELS cohort were more likely to have positive attitudes towards civic and political participation if they attended a school where citizenship education is taught regularly throughout their educational experience.4 This CELS evidence supports our view that students should have more citizenship education, not less, to improve outcomes. Maintaining statutory National Curriculum citizenship education at key stages 3 and 4 will also provide invaluable preparation for the National Citizen Service and post 16 citizenship education.
Professor Judy Sebba & Dr Carol Robinson (2010). Evaluation of UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting Schools Award. London: UNICEF UK. p18. 3 Attitudinal research from 400 pupils in 10 schools in Hampshire and West Berkshire. (Summary of report available online: Care to Make a Difference?: Survey of Key Stage 2 Pupils’ Attitudes and Behaviours http://www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk/main/resource.php?s405). 4 National Foundation for Educational Research (2010), Citizenship education in England 2001-2010: young people’s practices and prospects for the future: the eighth and final report from the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS), London, Department for Education.


Question 15c) If you think citizenship should not be part of the NC at one or more key stage, do you think it should be compulsory for pupils to study the subject, but with the content of what is taught being determined by schools and colleges? If a decision is taken to remove citizenship from the statutory National Curriculum, then it would be essential to retain the subject as a compulsory requirement with a non-statutory programme of study at key stages 2, 3 and 4. This, whilst not as robust as retaining the National Curriculum subject, would provide a clear signal to schools that citizenship is an important subject that must be taught to all pupils. Question 15e) For any key stages in which you think citizenship should not be part of the NC, do you think that the Government should produce a non-statutory programme of study, to be used by schools as guidance? Citizenship is too important to be left to chance and needs a clear and specific location in the curriculum. A non-statutory programme of study will do little to ensure that all students receive citizenship education. Experience demonstrates why statutory status is so crucial: when citizenship education was made a non-statutory cross curricular theme in the National Curriculum in 1990 (by a Conservative government) ‘the uptake of the subject was both sporadic and piecemeal’. 5 The introduction of citizenship education as a statutory National Curriculum subject was, in part, a recognition of the nonstatutory model’s inadequacies. It would be a step backwards to see citizenship as being about the ethos of the school; citizenship is then ‘everywhere and nowhere’.

Further evidence: supporting citizenship education in schools
The Citizenship Foundation runs a range of programmes, many sponsored by corporate social responsibility initiatives, which work in schools to support the delivery of citizenship education. We have particular expertise in public legal education, economic awareness and participation projects. We fear that, without a clear location for citizenship education as a National Curriculum subject, schools will no longer offer, and children will no longer benefit from, these innovative and engaging programmes. Below we provide case studies to demonstrate the impacts of citizenship education on students and in schools.

O’Hare, P. and Gay, O. (2006), The Political Process and Citizenship Education, London, House of Commons Library, 9.


Paying for It: bringing economic awareness to life Paying for It, run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with Aviva, aims to increase economic awareness amongst young people aged 14-18 by bringing interesting issues about money, finance and economics into the classroom, illustrating their relevance to everyday life and promoting stimulating and thought-provoking debate. Paying for It delivers aspects of the statutory citizenship curriculum at key stage 4, including: • how the economy functions, including the role of business and financial services; • the rights and responsibilities of consumers, employers and employees; • the importance of playing an active part in democratic processes; • encouraging students to express, justify and defend orally and in writing a personal opinion about such issues, problems or events; • enabling students to contribute to group and exploratory class discussions, and take part in formal debates. This academic year 1200 lesson plans were been downloaded, 80 teachers trained across the UK and 2800 young people engaged in the Chance to be Chancellor competition, the annual competition that gives young people the opportunity to tell the Government how they think it should spend the public's money. National Mock Trial Competitions: making the legal system accessible The Citizenship Foundation’s National Mock Trial Competitions aim to improve students’ knowledge and understanding of the law, the role and operation of crown and magistrates’ courts and increase positive contact with members of the legal profession. The Bar National Mock Trial Competition and Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition engage young people with the legal system by placing teams of students in to real-life courts to take part in mock trials with local schools as students take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses and court staff. With the support of local barristers and magistrates, students are guided through the legal process of a criminal trial and develop their citizenship skills (including advocacy, critical thinking and team work). Students benefit from engaging with practising barristers, court staff and judges to gain a unique insight in to the working of the legal system in the UK. The Citizenship Foundation has been running mock trial competitions for 20 years and this academic year saw more applications from schools than ever before. This year over 9,000 students from across the UK participated in the competitions, interacting with over 1,000 legal personal from their local communities at 85 crown, magistrates’ and high courts. The Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition evaluation report found that 98 per cent of participating teachers felt their students had developed confidence, team work skills, public speaking skills, analytical skills, the ability to develop an 5

argument and their knowledge and understanding of the legal system. The Bar National Mock Trial Competition evaluation report found that the competition developed an interest in the law in 92 cent of participating students. As one participating teacher commented: ‘[the] competition has been a fantastic experience for the students and staff. I feel opportunities like these are so important in stimulating interest in civic society among our future generations and are vital in the process of democratic and judicial systems.’

Further evidence: learning from the PRU experience
The PRU Challenge Citizenship Challenge is a resource the Citizenship Foundation designed to support the teaching of citizenship education at key stages 3 and 4 in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and similar alternative educational provision settings. In 2008 the Citizenship Challenge resource was fully evaluated, alongside research into the delivery and importance of citizenship education in PRUs and providing training for teachers. The interviews the Citizenship Foundation team conducted with PRU teachers often revealed concern for the future social development of their students. Introducing these young people to their rights and responsibilities is seen as an important part of what education can do for them, over and above basic skill acquisition. On the one hand, PRU students often feel, not unjustly, disadvantaged and marginalised and it is likely that many come from backgrounds where parents lack skills necessary to take advantage of the rights and freedoms citizens should enjoy. Equally, many PRU students appear to lack awareness of their rights before the law and appear to care little about the responsibilities they might owe to other people or society more widely. Gaining such knowledge, along with the social skills to utilise it, can contribute very significantly to an individual’s capacity to cope with the bewildering complexities of modern life. In addition, awareness of the justice system, including appreciation of the consequences of breaking the law, is also an important part of the socialisation processes, which many of these young people appear to have missed out on. The findings from our research demonstrate that citizenship is viewed by teachers as important for young people who attend PRUs because of its role in helping students to re-connect with a society from which they feel excluded and rejected. This in turn will help with their reintegration into mainstream school and, indeed, into wider society. We believe these findings can inform thinking about the National Curriculum more generally as many schools face the same issues around behaviour and socialisation.


As the only subject that teaches specifically about politics, democracy, the law and the economy, the Citizenship Foundation believes that citizenship education must be a part of any future National Curriculum at key stages 2, 3 and 4. We acknowledge that citizenship education has not achieved high standards in some schools (and have long been concerned by this), but agree with the NFER and Ofsted assessments that attribute this disappointing provision to a lack of school leadership and specialist trained teachers, rather than to the content of the subject itself.6 However, we would welcome the opportunity to review and refresh the citizenship curriculum so that it reflects learning from both its successes and failures. It is our hope that the National Curriculum Review will not take the retrograde and damaging decision to remove the subject from the National Curriculum – thereby denying our children political, legal and economic education – but will instead put forward a new vision for National Curriculum citizenship, one that ensures all students benefit from the best teaching and learning.

For further information please contact Molly Kearney, Policy & Advocacy Manager, on 0207 566 5034 or molly.kearney@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk.

See Ofsted (2010), Citizenship Established? Citizenship in schools 2006/09, Manchester, Ofsted and National Foundation for Educational Research (2009), Embedding Citizenship Education in Secondary Schools in England (2002-08): Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study Seventh Annual Report, London, Department for Children, Schools and Families.


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