CELS: The Citizenship Educational Longitudinal Study - 2001-2010

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Citizenship education became a statutory subject in England for students aged 11 to 16 (key stages 3 and 4) in September 2002 following the report of the Citizenship Advisory Group. The Group’s definition of ‘effective education for citizenship’ was centred on three separate but interrelated strands: social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy.

The Citizenship Order indicates that schools are to devote about five per cent of teaching time to citizenship learning, and sets out the anticipated learning outcomes in relation to knowledge, understanding, skills of enquiry, and participation. However, the Citizenship Order does not prescribe how schools are to deliver citizenship learning, and it is up to each individual school to decide how they want to arrange citizenship learning. For example, some schools may decide to timetable a specific citizenship lesson, while others may teach about citizenship through a module within PSHE or treat citizenship as a cross-curricular theme and teach this subject across a range of subjects. Some schools, however, may use a combination of these approaches.

For the latest findings about what delivery methods are being used by schools use, read the 7th Annual Report

The study
CELS has been designed to track the impact of the new citizenship education policies that were introduced in England in 2002. It is the biggest and longest-running study about the impact of citizenship education anywhere in the world, and plays an important role in understanding the changes taking place in citizenship education in the 21st century.

CELS investigates the changes over time, via a longitudinal study that tracks young people who entered secondary school in 2002 and who are, therefore, the first generation to have a continuous entitlement to citizenship education as they make the transition from young adulthood to adulthood.

This longitudinal study has been running since 2001 and will run until 2010. As part of this study, CELS regularly surveys young people, teachers, and senior leaders in schools and colleges in England, and asks them about their experiences and views about citizenship in classrooms, schools, and the wider community. CELS also conducts qualitative, longitudinal case studies of a small number of schools, which gives an in-depth insight into how citizenship education in schools has changed over the 9 years of the study.

More on the research design and data

Who we are

CELS is run by NFER (the National Foundation for Educational Research) and funded by the DCSF. The research team are:

  David Kerr   Project director
  Avril Keating   Project Leader
  Joana Lopes   Senior Research Officer
  Eleanor Mundy   Research Officer

Administrative support is provided by Sue Stoddart, and Professor Paul Whiteley (University of Essex) and Emeritus Professor Pat Seyd (University of Sheffield) are consultants to the study.

Contact the project team