Select Committee on Education and Skills Second Report

3  Implementation

Quality and reach of citizenship education

40. The vast majority of the evidence we have received on the quality of citizenship education as currently delivered in schools and other settings describes a field that is patchy at best. While there is evidence of good—and sometimes excellent—practice on the ground, viewed nationally the situation is profoundly uneven. And, in a minority of cases, it is clear that students are missing out on their entitlement entirely. Mick Waters of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority summed up what many other told us during the course of our inquiry, saying:

"[…] the pace of development is very variable. There are plenty of schools that are taking citizenship enormously seriously and achieving incredibly well. Equally, there are many that are still in the foothills waiting to go up the big slopes and they are touching on citizenship without making enormous strides forward."[30]

41. Written evidence from the National Foundation for Educational Research—which is conducting a wide-ranging national review of the implementation process—describes four dominant models of practice: progressive schools, which are "developing citizenship education in the curriculum, school and wider community; the most advanced type of provision"; implicit schools, which are "not yet focusing on citizenship education in the curriculum, but with a range of active citizenship opportunities"; "focused schools" which are "concentrating on citizenship education in the curriculum, with few opportunities for active citizenship in the school and wider community"; and lastly, "minimalist schools", which are "at an early stage of development, with a limited range of delivery approaches and few extra-curricular activities on offer". The NFER goes on to say that:

"In a nationally representative sample of schools about one quarter of the schools surveyed fall into each category. This suggests that citizenship education provision in schools in England is currently uneven and patchy, with one quarter of schools offering only a minimal level of provision: a finding that concurs with recent Ofsted conclusions. In addition, many schools are still to develop a holistic and coherent approach to citizenship education"[31]

As the NFER imply, Ofsted has played a key role in that it has produced regular subject reviews of citizenship education since it became part of the curriculum in 2002. In January 2005, they described it as the "worst taught" National Curriculum subject at secondary level.[32] We asked Miriam Rosen of Ofsted for further quantification of this statement, and she seemed keen to stress that this had been a somewhat bald characterisation:

"[citizenship education] is still a new subject but it has improved since it was introduced in 2002 and what we are saying now is that teaching is now good in over half of schools. That has to be set against the fact that it takes time to develop the expertise. We appreciate that it is still less well embedded than other subjects of the curriculum and less well taught than other subjects of the curriculum, but I think we should look at the fact that there has been a steady improvement."[33]

42. Although significant progress has been made toward the implementation of citizenship education, quality is currently inconsistent across the country. This is not altogether surprising given the subject's relatively recent introduction into the school curriculum. The imperative now is to ensure that patchiness is not allowed to remain, that high quality provision becomes the norm, and that progress is accelerated. This will require action from those on the ground, but also needs strong support from the DfES and Ministers. We make recommendations in regard to the latter in the final section of our Report.

43. Many schools are undertaking (and may have been doing so for many years) activities or lessons that fit with the aims and objectives of citizenship education—although often they have not been doing so in a systematic way, nor have they necessarily labelled their activities "citizenship education". Some of those submitting evidence to our inquiry said that this applied particularly to faith schools which, they argued, often have long histories of both community involvement and implicit or explicit "values education". We were therefore particularly keen to explore with representatives from this sector whether they saw "added value" in the Government's current approach to citizenship education.

44. Some of those we spoke to about this issue seemed to suggest that National Curriculum citizenship education's introduction in 2002 had merely formalised and made explicit aspects of some schools' work which had been central anyway. Simon Goulden, of the Agency for Jewish Education, told us:

"[I]t does seem, certainly from my point of view, that we have tried to find a subject heading for something which, certainly for a faith school, is the warp and the weft of everything we do [...]. It just means that we have to re-focus and re-compartmentalise the work we do so that it fits nicely into the citizenship curriculum and the curriculum headings and outcomes et cetera, but it is not new territory for us. I think it is new territory for a number of non-faith schools, or rather state schools."[34]

45. However, others from the faith-based schooling sector were clear that the formalised introduction of citizenship education had brought added value to their schools. Rachel Allard, Head Teacher of Grey Coat Hospital School, told us:

"I think perhaps we have been challenged to be more specific about the sorts of things that children might learn about the way democracy is organised in this country, for example. We would say that they are learning to think about democracy and how to do things in the way that we do things in the school, the school councils and so on, but we make sure now that we do have some experience, like a model United Nations, every year. We do not do it some years, we do it every year, there are things that we do every year and with all the students, which before might have been left more to chance, I think."[35]

There is an enduring risk that in a minority of cases, schools could be adopting a passive approach to citizenship education, believing no action needs to be taken as they are doing it anyway. The DfES has a role to play here in driving home the message that what is important is a systematic and explicit—as well as comprehensive—approach to citizenship education. This can incorporate existing activities, but also needs to consider the existence of any gaps; in short, it demands planning for citizenship activity in a strategic way across an institution.

46. We believe it is very important that faith schools recognise their specific responsibility to make space in their studies for the discussion of what citizenship means in a diverse and pluralist 21st century Britain and to examine openly the differences and differing views that come with this, in the context of mutual respect and human rights, and that it requires a more explicit approach than simply asserting that an overall ethos of citizenship permeates the school and its curriculum.

Modes of delivery


47. At the time of its introduction, concerns were expressed about how time and space would be found for citizenship education in an already crowded curriculum. Time pressures were explicitly addressed in both the Crick report and in the DfES's subsequent guidance to schools, which encouraged heads and subject leaders to 'audit' what they were currently doing, identifying areas where citizenship-related learning was already taking place and/or opportunities whereby lessons could be adapted to have a citizenship focus. For example, one way of doing this would be the designation of a maths lesson to focus on the use and misuse of statistics in supporting arguments—which is covered in the citizenship curriculum at Key Stage 4.

48. One argument commonly made in much of the evidence we received—and especially from organisations monitoring and supporting school delivery of citizenship education— was that while delivering citizenship "through" other subjects could be an extremely useful and practical method, on its own such an embedded approach was often insufficient: dedicated curriculum time was also needed for discrete teaching. In addition, there were a number of risks in adopting a solely cross-curricular approach to citizenship education, which Tony Breslin of the Citizenship Foundation, summed up particularly well:

"We know that citizenship can be delivered very well through other subjects […]. We also know from the experience of citizenship in a cross curricular theme for almost a decade that everywhere often can be nowhere, and therefore we propose a kind of subject-plus model where there is a citizenship core programme; but what we find is, where there is a strong citizenship core, the citizenship teaching in geography and history and in science is strengthened. So it is not an either/or, it is about giving status and profile to citizenship within the school and working both specifically and across the curriculum."[36]

We note that under a cross-curricular approach, some important topics included in the secondary citizenship curriculum do not easily find a home—for example, basic knowledge about local and national democratic structures and processes, as well as about organisations such as the European Union and the United Nations.

49. Most witnesses agreed that solely cross-curricular approaches to citizenship education are likely to be insufficient—as one of our witnesses pointed out, "everywhere often can be nowhere".[37] Ofsted makes this clear in their subject reports, but stops short of prescribing one particular delivery model. We understand schools' concerns about where time is to be found in the curriculum. The case for more overt prescription in terms of models of provision has not yet been made, but this does not preclude sending a clear message to schools about what is working best on the ground, and why. Ofsted should continue to monitor closely the development of citizenship studies in schools and particularly in the light of the implementation of the Ajegbo recommendations and their resource and teaching implications.


50. Many of those who have given evidence to us have been most animated when discussing the 'active' and participative aspects of the curriculum. However, it is also clear that this is the area in which many schools have difficulty providing meaningful opportunities for students. Towards Consensus, Ofsted's report on citizenship education in secondary schools published in September 2006 noted:

"A problem for teachers from the outset has been developing pupils' skills of participation and responsible action, especially in fulfilling the requirement to 'negotiate, decide and take part responsibly in both school and community-based activities'".[38]

51. Some of the most inspiring examples we have come across are where citizenship education's principles permeate the life of the school itself. Trevor Phillips, of the Commission for Racial Equality told us:

"[…] it is not just about what you learn in period three on a Wednesday, it is about how you position yourself relative to other people, what consideration you have for them, how you understand the way you settle disputes, violent or not violent, for example; and that is why, I think, the whole school approach has to be the way to deal with this, because you cannot in period three on Wednesday say one thing and then at lunch-time the school teaches you something different by the way it acts. It seems to me, if we are serious about this, if we are genuine about it, there is no other way"[39]

52. A whole-school approach implies that the democratic, participative attitude and skills which citizenship education seeks to develop are also put into practice in the school context; that is to say, young people participate in, comment on, and more importantly, change their learning environments. It also implies that schools foster an ethos whereby individuals are respected and there are clear expectations as to behaviour and treatment of others. This was aptly summed up by John Clarke of Hampshire County Council:

"[…] for me the essential word which people have been talking about is participation, which is fundamentally an issue of the whole school and it is not an issue just for citizenship lessons […]. I think we are talking here about the essence of schools, not just about a subject on the curriculum."[40]

For its part, the DfES seems to recognise this, saying:

"Young people's participation in the civic and democratic life of their home and school communities provides a valuable context in which citizenship can be practised. Empowering children and young people to effect change directly in their schools and local areas will help them develop self-belief in their ability to influence outcomes and can help them to develop the skills, confidence and self-esteem they will need for the future. The Government supports young people to become active citizens in their home and school communities by supporting initiatives that contribute to young people's development around the three interrelated themes."[41]

However, it is clear that some schools are currently very far away from such an approach— and need considerable support to move toward it.

53. Some of the most inspiring approaches to citizenship education we have come across are those where young people have a real say in the running of their school, and are able to affect change on issues that matter most to them. This is new and difficult territory for many schools. In respect of the active, participative dimensions of citizenship education, and adopting a "whole school" approach, we think there is a greater role for the DfES to play in disseminating best practice examples and case-studies. This should capitalise on the experience of those schools which have found space in the curriculum for creating "active" citizenship opportunities, and those which have allowed young people a real say in institutional management. The links with Every Child Matters' focus on designing services around the needs of young people, with their input, should be stressed.

School councils and active citizenship

54. During our inquiry, we paid special attention to school councils and the role that they were playing in terms of citizenship education. Although not part of the defined citizenship "curriculum", many schools see their councils as closely allied to their programmes—as well as to school improvement plans, the implementation of Every Child Matters and in some cases, the Healthy Schools initiative. Well-run school councils offer students opportunities both to participate in democratic, representative practices—such as elections, and to effect change in their school environments.

55. Our visits to schools were particularly valuable in allowing us to witness participation in action. At the Blue School in Wells, over 250 students were involved with the school council, which was divided into over 20 separate "teams" each focusing on a particular area— examples included energy usage, management support, fair trade and "Africa link". Students self-elected to the council, and received training in a range of skills to help them participate effectively. Each team met weekly to plan their activities, and most had brought about significant changes in their school and wider communities—for example, securing funds to rebuild bike sheds, and reducing the school's energy expenditure. Additionally, all students on the council met to discuss wider issues; these meetings were open to all students of the school.

56. At Nailsea School, council members described how they had taken part in an "enjoyment audit" of lessons, which provided feedback to teaching staff about the content and nature of lessons. This we felt was particularly significant, because it indicated the potential for truly effective and meaningful participation in an area which has perhaps the most significant impact on students, but in which they often have little or no say—the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Keith Ajegbo, then head of Deptford Green School, told us that a similar programme was in place at his school.[42] It is therefore clear that in some instances school councils are working to democratise school life and give students real experience of participatory activity leading to meaningful change.

57. One issue we have sought to explore with witnesses has been the extent to which school councils typically engage the full range of students in a setting—including for example, those who are achieving less well in academic respects, or those who may lack the confidence to "put themselves forward". Tony Breslin of the Citizenship Foundation appeared to share our concerns, saying "What we find is that if we take participation in school councils, for instance, one is more likely to see the more able engaged, academically involved, and therefore benefiting even further than the less [engaged and able pupils]."[43]

58. Some witnesses stressed that school councils, while important, were not adequate to serve as citizenship provision in and of themselves. John Clarke of Hampshire local authority, told us:

"[…] school councils are essential but by no means sufficient. There is almost a bible, on participation now, a publication called, Hear by Right, which talks about a graduated approach to participation where consultation is at the bottom followed by representation and ends up at the top level in initiation. I think in our best primary schools in Hampshire we would see examples of pupils, sometimes quite young, initiating things in schools. I think school's councils are at the level of representation in most schools at the moment."[44]

59. We see this point entirely; as we make clear in other parts of this report, we strongly believe that a multi-faceted approach to citizenship education—including taught content, participative activities, and a whole-school approach—is the most likely to bear fruit.

60. The DfES and Ministers have been supportive of school councils to date—most visibly in terms of grants to organisations such as School Councils UK, which help schools and other settings to establish effective practices. In 2005 the Government asked Professor Geoff Whitty of the Institute of Education to undertake a review of the role of school councils in England. The aims of this review were to "provide recommendations for updating the current DfES guidance on pupil participation […] in terms of the role that school councils play as a vehicle for involving pupils in school decision making and school improvement".[45]

61. We warmly welcome the Government's practical support for school councils to date, including through the funding it provides to School Councils UK for the provision of materials and other development work. There is scope for information about schools with effective, innovative councils to be made more widely known. As in other respects concerning the sharing of best practice on citizenship education, supporting organisations (including the DfES) have a fine balance to maintain between the potential merits of offering "replicable models" to assist schools who have perhaps made little progress to date, and the potential risk of implying "one size fits all" approaches that may be entirely inappropriate in certain contexts. It would be undesirable to give the impression that a certain "model" could just be adopted and implemented in a school, giving end-users (students) little say in the design of the council. This needs to be stressed alongside any support materials or exemplars that are offered. It is important to situate councils within the wider citizenship education programme, and to ensure participation and ownership among the whole school population—not just an elite group.


62. In Wales, school councils have recently been made compulsory. We asked witnesses whether they thought that there was any evidence they were likely to be better as a result, and whether there was any merit in creating similar arrangements for England. Jessica Gold of School Councils UK seemed unconvinced:

"I do not think that school councils are better in Wales, I do not think there is any evidence of that at all, although it will be interesting, in a year or two's time, to see whether that changes. In effect, school councils are almost statutory here, inasmuch as Ofsted has to look for participation. Ofsted is meant to send a letter to the school council after they have done an inspection; so schools clearly are being very strongly encouraged to have school councils here."[46]

However, Jules Mason of the British Youth Council was more categorical, feeling there was definite merit in some element of statutory compulsion, but that this would need to promote participation, rather than just the creation of structures:

"[The] fact that both Scotland and Wales have some statutory duty is something that England should look to follow, along with organisations like ESSA, the English Secondary Students Association, and CRAE, the Children's Rights Alliance for England, they are calling for statutory provision for pupils' involvement and voice within the Education Bill."[47]

63. We see a case for making school councils compulsory as this would make them the norm, and send a clear message about the importance of meaningful involvement for students in the running of schools and other settings. However, there are clear risks in a prescriptive approach, which would have to be carefully managed: for example, the potential for stifling real creativity in terms of organic development, and ensuring continued grass-roots "ownership". Subject to the findings of the Institute of Education review, we recommend that the Government makes school councils compulsory. The Government should, however, resist the temptation to define tightly what form they should take—as this is likely to add little and may even be counter-productive.


64. At the Blue School in Wells, students were offered skills training to give them the tools necessary to participate meaningfully—for example, in representing others and in negotiation. This was fundamental to the success of their school council model.[48] We asked witnesses whether they thought such training was beneficial in preparing students to take an active role in school councils and other participatory fora. Jessica Gold of School Councils UK told us that she thought students could benefit greatly from these approaches, and what was needed was for settings to provide dedicated funding for this purpose:

"It is a bottom-up structure, through form councils, through class councils, and schools should have a specific part of their budget which every year can be spent on developing young people's skills in participation and leadership."[49]

Lord Adonis seemed to indicate specific training for student participation was not something that the DfES was prioritising. He told us:

"[…] when it comes to helping schools councils to develop the skills they need to be able to interact with the senior management of the school to conduct interviews and so on, it should not require specific training for school staff to be able to pass on those skills."[50]

The idea that teachers already have skills in leadership, communication skills and negotiating, that they can pass on to students, is no doubt absolutely true in principle. However, it is not clear that this happens widely in practice—nor even that the desirability of such training is widely understood.

65. We saw examples of how training for students, specifically in the skills of chairing meetings and in representation, had made the work of school councils more effective. Training for students in leadership, communication skills and negotiation is one of the areas where there are real opportunities for the Government to offer support. We recognise that with the devolution of budgets to schools there is limited opportunity to ring-fence funding for specific purposes—and broadly speaking we support the presumption that schools should be able to decide what they spend their funds on. The Government should look at how training for students can best be supported to give them the skills to participate fully.

The role of local authorities

66. Local authorities, Professor Sir Bernard Crick told us, had "been very mixed in the amount of support they give. Some are absolutely excellent on backing citizenship, some, subject to correction, scarcely at all. The future looks rather bleak as of today or tomorrow in respect of the back-up advice that will come from there."[51] This was reinforced by Tony Breslin, Citizenship Foundation, who told us that "in terms of local authorities, provision is very uneven".[52] This, he suggested, was for similar reasons found in schools themselves—for example, citizenship co-ordinators having responsibilities for several subjects, of which citizenship education was the most recently added. Likewise, the National Foundation for Educational Research say in written evidence that:

"There is some evidence of local authority involvement in CPD training and support for schools. However, such support is inconsistent across the country with LA staff having limited capacity to support schools because of competing priorities for their time and lack of funds."[53]

67. Local authority support for citizenship education seems to date to have been patchy. Aside from the benefits that could accrue simply in terms of the development of the subject itself, we see strategic reasons for this situation to be remedied. On the one hand, there is clearly a strong fit between the objectives of citizenship education programmes, and those of the Every Child Matters programme of reform; both, for example, stress the need for young people to play an active part in society. It seems to us that local authorities—who bear the strategic responsibility for implementing Every Child Matters—could get added benefit by providing more consistent support for schools and colleges in respect of citizenship education.

68. The emerging evidence available currently on the implementation of Every Child Matters suggests that Children's Trusts—which oversee all children's services in an area, and which local authorities lead—are still struggling to develop opportunities for young people to be meaningfully involved in the design of services which affect them.[54] Tom Wylie, of the National Youth Agency, told us:

"[…] young people spend only nine minutes of every waking hour in school, so the question is what happens in the other 51 minutes, and I would urge the Committee to concern itself with the 51 minutes, what is going on in the democratic process, the engagement by councils in ensuring that young people have scope for having a voice or an influence, in service, and so on."[55]

69. We do not see this as an "either/or" issue: there are clearly opportunities for synergies insofar as "active" citizenship programmes delivered from within schools and other settings can and do focus on effecting change in terms of local services—for example, upgrading local play facilities or improving access to services that young people value.

70. It is currently not clear that local authorities are consistently providing high levels of support on citizenship education to schools and other services in their area. This is partly for the same reasons schools and others sometimes have not prioritized citizenship— namely, pressure on time and resources, and the relative newness of the subject. The DfES needs to issue further guidance to local authorities about citizenship education. Emphasis could usefully be placed on the potential for "added value", given that successful citizenship education, particularly the participatory dimension, is likely to help young people achieve one of the Every Child Matters key outcomes: that of making a positive contribution to society.

Continuity across phases—a life-long citizenship education strategy?


71. Currently, primary schools deliver citizenship as part of the non-statutory framework, alongside Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). It is intended to provide the foundation for citizenship, introducing important concepts such as equal rights, as well as encouraging the development of skills essential for participative citizenship—for example, listening to others and understanding others' perspectives.

72. One key issue is transition from primary to secondary education—and what this means in terms of children's experiences of citizenship provision. John Clarke of Hampshire County Council explained the challenges he was seeing in his area in this regard:

"It is probably our major issue in Hampshire. You can imagine the situation of children in Year 6 being used to dialogue negotiation and seeking consensus between each other and with teachers, and they arrive at a secondary school which is not quite so sympathetic to those kinds of things happening in classrooms or some of the teachers in Year 7 might be, but other teachers not in Year 7 might not. We think that all the good work which has been done in primary schools probably disappears by about the November of Year 7 because of the issues about culture sometimes but huge issues with organisations"[56]

73. Here, the problem seems to be a disjuncture between practice across the two main phases of compulsory education—caused at least in part by failure of staff in different settings to communicate effectively about children's experiences to date and what this might mean as they settle into their new environment. We asked Lord Adonis what the Government and the DfES was doing to improve the transition between primary and secondary citizenship education. He replied that he thought this was:

"[…] an important area. For example, in the specialist schools programme it is now possible, through the humanities specialism, to major in citizenship and, of course, that involves developing links with feeder primary schools and neighbouring secondary schools also."[57]

74. He went on to say that the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust were developing guidance on citizenship as a subject specialism and that he hoped this guidance would include information on developing primary-secondary links around citizenship. We agree that this is important; however, the question remains of what happens in areas where there is currently no school with a citizenship specialism to give the subject priority in its liaison with feeder primaries; at the time of submitting evidence to this inquiry, the DfES told us that there were just 18 secondary schools with a subject specialism in citizenship education —and that in all these cases, citizenship was a secondary specialism. In contrast, there are currently 596 schools with either a primary, joint or secondary specialism in technology.

75. Citizenship education at the primary level is currently dealt with in non-statutory guidance, and is treated as one with Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). The Nuffield Foundation sees these two factors as having a bearing on continuity across phases, saying: "There is a lack of coherence from stage to stage, partly because the subject is not statutory in primary schools and is integrated into PSHE rather than made distinct."[58]

Similarly, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority told us in written evidence:

"There continues to be confusion in some schools about the relationship of citizenship with other national curriculum subjects and PSHE and the distinctive contribution to other subjects that citizenship can provide when properly planned. A declining but significant number (74%) indicate citizenship is taught part of the time within programmes of PSHE. About half (51%) state this is their main form of provision. Worryingly 22% said their main form of provision was teaching citizenship in combination with PSHE where no distinction is made between the two subjects."[59]

76. One area of considerable agreement in the evidence we have received has been the need to disaggregate PSHE and citizenship education at the conceptual level, even if it often makes sense for citizenship education and PSHE to be delivered in tandem, particularly at the primary stage.[60] Schools do best when they see citizenship as a separate subject.


77. Provision at the post-16 level is supported by a co-ordination and development unit run by the Learning and Skills Network, which produces extensive best-practice materials. However, programmes in this phase are by definition voluntary and are not driven by a national curriculum as such (as is the case during secondary schooling). A dominant feature of work in the 16-19 age group is its focus on active, participatory citizenship. This follows the recommendations of the second Crick report, Citizenship for 16-19-year-olds in Education and Training, published in 2000.

78. We asked Bernadette Joslin of the then-Learning and Skills Development Agency how she saw provision in the post-16 sector developing. She replied:

"I would say over the five years there has been a groundswell of interest and enthusiasm […]. I think there is growing interest in this area. Lots and lots of people are asking me what is happening beyond the development phase of the process, but it is very difficult to pin down".

79. She continued:

"[…] citizenship education development is a lifelong experience, and I am very pleased to say that beyond the development programme, which is actually focused on 16-19, there is a strong movement within the Home Office for adult citizenship education and learning. We do some work with them. I think it is really important and I would like to see stronger emphasis on 16-19 citizenship and beyond that as well."[61]

80. Since we took evidence, the DfES has confirmed that it will continue to provide funding for the post-16 citizenship support programme. We welcome this commitment and hope that DfES will look at how further developments, including the Ajegbo recommendations, can be integrated into this programme.

81. At Universities and Colleges of Higher Education, citizenship education programmes, at least self-consciously defined as such, appear to be in their infancy. One example is Roehampton University's Crucible programme, which has been developed partly in response to a perceived need to create active "communities" on campus in an institution where many students continue to live at home. Another aim of the programme is to develop links with local community organisations. Additionally, HEFCE is currently funding a pilot programme called Teaching Citizenship in Higher Education, which is being led by the University of Southampton, in partnership with Keele University and Liverpool John Moores University.[62] Although we have not taken extensive evidence during our inquiry on practice in the higher education sector, we would contend that this is an area which merits further exploration.

82. What is currently absent at the national level is a truly lifelong citizenship education strategy—which joins up primary, secondary, tertiary, adult education and training. Worthwhile activity is happening in all these phases of education yet it is hard to see these activities—particularly those in further, higher and adult education—as belonging to a coherent programme, with common aims and purposes. It will be vital that the lifelong strategy is developed in co-operation with other Government departments active in the citizenship arena—and in particular, the Home Office and the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

Training—teachers and leaders

Secondary initial teacher training and CPD

83. During our inquiry, the one area that has stood out quite clearly as critical to the future development of citizenship education is the adequate training of teachers, lecturers and leaders. When we took evidence from Lord Adonis, it became apparent that he likewise saw training as key:

"My view of how we will actually get to good citizenship education as a subject in school, by which I mean the teaching of the citizenship curriculum, is that it is going to be difficult to do that until you have a trained citizenship teacher in every secondary school and, in fact, the very existence of a trained citizenship teacher is a declaration by the leadership of the school that they take it sufficiently seriously as a subject that they want teachers who actually have accredited expertise in the subject teaching it. You would not think of having science or history or geography, saying that these are important to the life of the school, if you did not have a properly trained teacher."[63]

In tandem with the introduction of the citizenship curriculum in 2002, bids were invited for the establishment of Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) initial teacher training courses, to provide a new specialist 'cadre' of staff for secondary education. However, the number of places on initial teacher training (ITT) citizenship courses, in line with those for other subjects, is decreasing year on year. While 250 places were available in 2003-04 and 2004-05, this number has been progressively reduced to 220 places for courses taking place in 2007-08. The reductions in citizenship are proportionately smaller than for other subjects. However, many of those submitting evidence on this issue to us have contended that even the current level of provision is inadequate, and further cuts inappropriate, given the novelty of the subject and the fact that it is still establishing its place in the school curriculum. Chris Waller of the Association for Citizenship Teaching told us:

"I would maintain that there are too few teachers, too few trainees getting on to the courses that are available. I know, for example, that one of the HEI providers in the south-west of England was allocated 15 places for 2006-07 and had 60 applicants. Each one of those 60 applicants wanted to train to be a citizenship teacher, but they were turned away. They are possibly lost to the profession; certainly they are lost in terms of that training institution to citizenship training courses; so the demand is there, the interest is there."[64]

84. A similar point was foreshadowed at the start of our inquiry by Professor Sir Bernard Crick, who told us that the new cadre of citizenship teachers tended to be very able—moreover, there was a latent body of potential recruits who were being turned away:

"Very many of those who have done their teaching practice in a school have been appointed by that same school when they have come to look for a job. That means they are very able people. In the past good graduates in politics, economics or sociology could not get into teaching because of, as you know, the National Curriculum requirement. Now it is a National Curriculum requirement there is not merely an annual intake; I think there is quite a backlog of those kinds of graduates who want to get into teaching."[65]

85. Of course, a crucial issue is what happens to those who do complete citizenship ITT courses, and we have received some worrying evidence which suggests that even the small number of recruits exiting existing programmes are often not able to find positions where their skills are fully utilised. Chris Waller, Association for Citizenship Teaching, told us:

"[…] they [citizenship specialists] are tremendous assets to school, and schools recognise that, but they often employ them in a context which is away from citizenship […]. That often leads to those newly qualified teachers being disenchanted and leaving the profession altogether […]. This is where we come back to this issue about how citizenship manifests itself in individual schools, and we need to try and ensure that schools are much clearer about, ring-fencing is too simplistic a term, but ensuring that citizenship is identified clearly within the curriculum, that responsibility is given as such and that students really do receive a proper entitlement, not a newly qualified teacher who is put in charge of Uncle Tom Cobbly and all who devotes 20 minutes a week to citizenship. That is what kills it and it kills them as teachers."[66]

Ongoing informal monitoring of advertised vacancies in the national press suggests that the number of citizenship teachers sought for the teaching year starting September 07-08 is very low compared to other subjects—even Religious Education—which although compulsory is not actually part of the National Curriculum. [67]

86. In the medium term there is a very strong case for increasing substantially the number of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) places for those who want to specialise in citizenship education. In the short term, no further cuts in the annual number of places available should be made. These actions would send a strong signal about the seriousness with which citizenship education is viewed. In tandem, there needs to be a campaign to encourage schools and colleges to employ ITT graduates in citizenship posts. This campaign needs to convey the expectation that all secondary schools should have a fully trained citizenship teacher in post. Consideration should be given to what incentives and support need to be offered so that schools are willing and able to fulfil this expectation.

87. The DfES's main strategy for developing citizenship expertise is through the roll-out of the continuing professional development (CPD) course in citizenship for existing teachers.[68] In March 2006, it was announced that an extra 600 places on the CPD course would be provided each year for the next two years. The courses would entail the equivalent of 5 days' training, and would be certificate-bearing. The number of places, Lord Adonis told us, had been decided on an assessment of likely demand from teachers and leaders. [69]

88. It is clear that there is strong support for the roll-out of the citizenship CPD programme from within the citizenship education community. Indeed, the national co-ordination of a development programme was something that many had advocated in written evidence. Scott Harrison of Ofsted told us:

"I think as time has gone on we have found that pedagogically, and in terms of the issues which teachers have to deal with, handling 25 fifteen-year-olds and whatever else, teaching citizenship is difficult. I agree with [Sir] Bernard [Crick] that we need substantial training for teachers in service who are signed up to doing this day on day."[70]

Similarly, CitizED, an organisation funded by the Training and Development Agency to support workforce development, told us:

"We welcome the recent announcement that the DfES will fund 1,200 teachers on a CPD citizenship course costing nearly £600,000 over two years. However, we see no strategy for delivering such courses. Nor do we see a clear policy that will ensure the best use of expertise within and beyond higher education so that there can be fruitful collaboration with government departments and agencies and NGOs."[71]

89. We welcome the expansion of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) citizenship certificate programme, which responds to a clear need from within the existing school workforce, and seems to indicate the start of a more co-ordinated, national strategy. Our main concern is that the level of skill and knowledge that can be gained through the equivalent of five days' training is in no way comparable to that likely to be gained in the course of a full-year ITT course. A primarily CPD-based approach would not be considered as appropriate for teachers of other statutory secondary subjects (such as maths) and we cannot see why it should be so in the case of citizenship. While CPD is crucial, it should not be allowed to serve as the main developmental route for citizenship education.

90. During our inquiry, we received evidence from a range of professional associations, foundations and charitable trusts whose main purpose is to promote and support the development of citizenship education—particularly in respect of developing the workforce. These include organisations such as the Association for Citizenship Teaching, the Citizenship Foundation and many others. These organisations are an essential part of the framework, and are particularly valuable in that they create and sustain professional networks for the sharing of best practice, resources, and teaching methods.


91. Currently, the majority of primary teachers enter the profession after completing one-year Postgraduate Certification in Education (PGCE) courses. Some of the evidence we have received questions whether such courses are providing adequate coverage of citizenship education, given the plethora of other topics which have to be considered and the limited time available. CitizED told us:

"The positive remarks about citizenship education for the secondary sector cannot be echoed for primary […] PGCE courses for primary trainees are forced to marginalise citizenship education, or make only token gestures, due to the pressure on their time. The non statutory nature of citizenship education and the fact that it is combined in the guidance with PSHE only exacerbates this situation. The result is that very few primary trainees are adequately equipped to take on citizenship teaching when they qualify. Despite some good practice in primary schools, the absence of training for the new generation of primary teachers means that opportunities to develop citizenship education in schools through new blood are missed, and transition into the secondary sector is not supported."[72]

92. We have received evidence of some effective practice in primary schools—for example, in Hampshire. We are nevertheless concerned that trainee primary teachers following the PGCE route may not have the opportunity to cover citizenship education in adequate depth, given the intensiveness of the course and the number of other areas which have to be covered. If this is indeed the case, there is a risk that new teachers entering the profession are starting out with only limited awareness of what it means and what it can offer. More generally, there is a risk that an opportunity to make citizenship education an integral part of the curriculum in all primary schools is being missed. The DfES, working with the Training and Development Agency and Ofsted (which inspects teacher training), needs to assess the priority currently being given to citizenship education on primary PGCE courses, and to consider whether any remedial action is needed in this regard.


93. As is the case with most curricular reforms and new initiatives, it is clear that the success or otherwise of an institution's citizenship provision depends critically on the attitudes, abilities and decisions of an institution's leadership. Scott Harrison of Ofsted, told us:

"[…] the fact is that the schools which have done best have been operating on all […] fronts, whereas those who are still not off the starting block have not begun to see the senior management decisions which are needed in order to move forward."[73]

Currently, the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) is the primary provider of continuing professional development to school leaders. We asked witnesses whether they were doing enough to promote awareness of citizenship education through their courses. Tony Breslin of the Citizenship Foundation said:

"We are convinced that the National College could do much more here. My understanding is that the discussions between the department and other bodies in the National College, in terms of equipping heads to support and lead on citizenship, has essentially been that the NCSL does school management and school leadership, it does not do subjects; and this is precisely the space where we say, 'Yes, but citizenship is not just a subject, it is a way of doing schooling', and leading the citizenship, which is school, community involved, active participation, etcetera, is a very different thing. We are seeking to lobby the National College for a revision of the national professional qualification for headship, and their leading from the middle programmes, to ensure that there is an input specifically around citizenship and citizenship as a way of doing schooling rather than simply narrowly as a subject, but it is insufficient currently."[74]

94. There is a clear case for ensuring that heads and other school leaders receive information about whole-school approaches to citizenship education during training or CPD, where appropriate. It appears that one problem in the past has been a lack of clarity about whose responsibility this is, with the National College for School Leadership saying its remit does not allow it to focus on particular "subjects". However, as we have argued elsewhere, effective citizenship education concerns whole-school issues that are fundamentally in the hands of management, and are to some extent, therefore, 'beyond the curriculum'. We would welcome a clear statement from the National College for School Leadership on what it is currently doing to ensure heads are sufficiently aware of citizenship's whole school implications, and specifically through its 'Leading from the Middle' and 'National Professional Qualification for Headship' training courses.

The teaching of "controversial" issues

95. During our inquiry, we have been particularly keen to explore whether teaching across the full range of schools prepares young people adequately for life in a diverse society. In particular, we sought to test the contention that some schools may be dealing inadequately with (or simply avoiding) certain topics seen as "sensitive" or "problematic"—for example, homosexuality or abortion.[75] In particular, we were concerned to look at whether faith schools, where a specific value system dominates, may be failing to address issues adequately, appropriately, and in an unbiased way. Tony Breslin of the Citizenship Foundation told us: "[O]ur sense is that it might not be so much that faith schools are not dealing with controversial issues, it might be an issue about how those issues are dealt with, and we need to understand more about that."[76] He went on to add that many faith schools had strong traditions of participation and community involvement.

96. We asked faith schooling representatives whether they saw any conflict between the necessity to cover certain issues in an unbiased and appropriate manner, and the teachings of their particular faith. The Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, strongly denied any such conflict:

"On homosexuality, I think the Catholic Church makes a very clear distinction, which I can elaborate on if you like, between the orientation of a person and their sexual behaviour. The Catholic Church would stand very firmly for the equal dignity and right of a person, no matter their homosexual orientation, and would argue very strongly that it is a real foreshortening of human dignity to identify somebody by their sexual orientation, which, unfortunately, I think our society does. As to the moral codes concerning sexual behaviour, there is a single principle on this, which is that sexual intercourse belongs within marriage, and that is the principal teaching of the Catholic Church […]. We have just developed, with the full co­operation of the Teenage Pregnancy Unit, a programme All That I Am, which is to do with personal and sexual education and it deals with all those issues and it does so in a very mature and proper fashion. Yes, they are dealt with, and we do not need citizenship education to deal with them."[77]

Similarly, Mohammed Mukadam of the Association of Muslim Schools told us:

"In terms of the debates which you mentioned, specifically about the attitude to women, homosexuality, et cetera, these pose no problems at all for faith schools where they are well-run and have a broader understanding of Islam. Of course Islam has its clear views about homosexuality and those are discussed in schools, but it would be wrong to translate that as homophobic, or whatever you want to call it. Although the Koran is very clear that homosexuality as an act is sinful and so forth, I do not think the Koran teaches that they should go around beating up any homosexuals, so there is a difference. There is room for holding one's own views and to discuss this, and to uphold them. It is equally important to make sure that they respect their fellow human beings and do not go around doing things which are illegal."[78]

97. Currently, there is little concrete evidence about the consistency or scale of teaching on issues—such as homosexuality or abortion—which are considered problematic or controversial by some. Schools should be positively encouraged and supported in looking at ways to incorporate such discussion both into their lessons and other out-of-lesson citizenship activities as part of the acknowledgement and acceptance of diversity and difference. The DfES needs to make this expectation clear—and look at the support and guidance it provides to enable teachers to meet it.

30   Q 84 Back

31   Ev 254-255 Back

32   "New Ofsted evidence shows citizenship is worst taught subject at secondary level", Ofsted press release, 2005-07, 17 January 2005 Back

33   Q 3 Back

34   Q 270 Back

35   Q 694 Back

36   Q 108 Back

37   Q 108 (Tony Breslin, Citizenship Foundation) Back

38   Ofsted, Toward Consensus: citizenship in secondary schools, HMI 2666, September 2006, para 37. Back

39   Q 444 Back

40   Q 42 Back

41   Ev 162 Back

42   Q 57 Back

43   Q 113 Back

44   Q 58 Back

45   Private communication from Prof. Geoff Whitty.  Back

46   Q 202 Back

47   Q 202 Back

48   The Blue School council was developed using a programme called Learning to Lead, which is now being used with other schools in the local area, and also in other parts of the country (see  Back

49   Q 263 Back

50   Q 553 Back

51   Q 6 Back

52   Q 102 Back

53   Ev 256 Back

54   University of East Anglia and the National Children's Bureau, Child, youth and parent participation in children's trust settings, April 2006. Back

55   Q 196 Back

56   Q 59 Back

57   Q 546 Back

58   Ev 215 Back

59   Ev 31 Back

60   It may sometimes make sense for PSHE and citizenship education to be delivered alongside each other at the primary stage but there is much evidence, including that from Ajegbo, that in terms of subject matter and teaching experience and background, it may be better regarded as sitting alongside humanities subjects at secondary and later stages. Back

61   Q 87, Q 159 Back

62   See Back

63   Q 515 Back

64   Q 135 Back

65   Q2 Back

66   Q 150 Back

67   Private communication from Jonathan Hayward, Institute of Education. Back

68   Additionally, in April 2006, the Citizenship Foundation published a CPD handbook entitled Making Sense of Citizenship. This was in association with the DfES, the Association for Citizenship Teaching, QCA, Ofsted, the then-LSDA and Citized. Back

69   Q 526 Back

70   Q 39 Back

71   Ev 218 Back

72   Ev 218 Back

73   Q 40 Back

74   Q 140 Back

75   While sexuality and abortion might ordinarily be understood to fall within the remit of PSHE or RE, we consider them relevant to citizenship insofar as they are inherently political matters, tied to issues of human rights, equality and the law.  Back

76   Q 158 Back

77   Qq 654-57 Back

78   Q 300 Back

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