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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
• working with young people in community-settings on issues that concern

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.
1The 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.
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.
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
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
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 non-
statutory 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

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
• 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

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
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

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.