Vision versus pragmatism: Citizenship in the secondary school curriculum in England
Vision versus pragmatism: Citizenship in the secondary school curriculum in England

David Kerr, Joana Lopes, Julie Nelson et al

Research Report, June 2007

This is the fifth annual report of the DfES-funded Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study.

Download brief from DfES website - 5 pages (126 kb)

Download report from DfES website - 140 pages (155 mb)

Key Findings:

  • In 36 per cent of schools our survey records high levels of student efficacy, student participation and a well defined and implemented approach to citizenship within the curriculum. But what does citizenship as a curriculum subject look like in such schools and how might more schools strive to become ‘citizenship-rich’?
  • Schools ultimately balance vision and pragmatism to adopt a model of delivery for the citizenship curriculum that best suits their particular strengths, weaknesses and circumstances: a one-size fits all approach is unrealistic and impracticable. Yet, given the right circumstances, resources and support, the current variation in delivery models need not undermine the quality, breadth and depth of citizenship education provision in schools.
  • Any model of delivery, whether it be in a discrete timetable slot, through PSHE modules or cross-curricular, is likely to be effective if a number of factors are present:
    - a small, dedicated teaching team
    - strong and clear leadership and direction
    - support for the teaching team through up-to-date, accessible lesson plans and resources
  • The onus to turn this into reality cannot simply be placed on schools. Unless a number of structural challenges are addressed at the policy level, it seems unlikely that more schools will become ‘citizenship-rich’ as citizenship becomes more embedded in the curriculum over time. Challenges highlighted in the report include:
    - the general lack of status and visibility of citizenship education
    - the lack of trained specialist staff
    - competing policy priorities

Further Information:
Format: Paperback, 140pp, ISBN: 9781844789337
Sponsor(s): DfES

How to cite this publication:

Kerr, D., Lopes, J., Nelson, J., White, K., Cleaver, E. and Benton, T. (2007). Vision Versus Pragmatism: Citizenship in the Secondary School Curriculum in England. Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study: Fifth Annual Report (DfES Research Report 845). London DfES.