David Kerr , Pauline Wade , Julie Nelson , Graham Taylor
01 January 2004
This is the report from the second year of a three year evaluation of the post-16 citizenship development projects undertaken by NFER. It is based upon interviews with 228 individuals across the Round 1 and Round 2 projects, and upon Management Information (MI) data supplied to the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) by the projects. The evaluation aims to:
- assess the extent to which the development projects were progressing in line with their action plans, and were working towards meeting their own objectives
- identify the conditions necessary for the success of post-16 citizenship
- identify the forms of citizenship provision that appear the most effective
- examine the apparent impact of involvement in post-16 citizenship on young people’s knowledge, understanding and skills.
The second year of the evaluation has provided evidence that the projects are developing a range of innovative approaches to active citizenship. From this evidence base it is possible to identify and summarise those factors that appear to underlie the most successful provision. The projects appear to be most successful where there is:
- A flexible, yet rigorous, framework which recognises that projects are developing citizenship programmes in a wide variety of ways, from taught to more active approaches, according to the specific needs and circumstances of their organisations, staff and young people.
- Sufficient funding for local management of projects to be effective, including support for relevant agencies to act as brokers of information between pre- and post-16 citizenship providers.
- Encouragement of local networking and dialogue between those developing citizenship programmes, without establishing an imperative.
- A clear definition of what citizenship means, and what the programme seeks to achieve.
- Senior management support and a supportive organisational ethos.
- Sufficient time for staff to develop aims and objectives, teaching and learning strategies, assessment approaches and preferred outcomes.
- Sufficient funding, especially if citizenship is to be introduced on a wider scale with large numbers of young people.
- Dedicated and enthusiastic staff (these need not be specialists, but ideally should be willing volunteers). They would act as 'champions' to promote citizenship to staff and students.
- Appropriate and sufficient staff development and training opportunities.
- The tailoring of citizenship to the needs, skills, interests and experiences of young people.
Learning context-level factors
- Dedicated and enthusiastic staff, with the skills to facilitate as well as teach.
- A dedicated time slot for citizenship (whether as a discrete course, a module within a programme, or a specific project). The integration of citizenship into a wider tutorial scheme was generally regarded to have been a less effective approach, although there was one example of successful provision in this respect.
- An emphasis on combining knowledge, understanding and skills with practical action - what is termed a 'political literacy in action' approach, apposed to a narrower political knowledge approach.
- Involvement and participation of young people in decisions about their learning, and the development of a student voice.
- A focus upon critically active forms of learning, including discussion, debate, dialogue and reflection. The best examples were where young people were helped to think, reflect and take action.
- The use of a variety of experiential learning approaches, including project work, drama, role play, art, photography and exhibition work.
- The use of varied and interesting resources, ideally with relevance to the interests and experiences of young people.
- Links with the wider community through off site visits, the use of external speakers, and giving young people responsibility for working and negotiating with external partners.
- The involvement of young people in active participation in large-scale assemblies such as youth fora and student parliaments.
- Assessment strategies that are effective and realistic, based upon the needs, skills and capabilities of the young people.
This is the report from the second year of the evaluation