England was one of 28 countries taking part in the IEA Civic Education Study. Phase 1 collected information to establish the national context for civic or citizenship education in schools. Phase 2 was a large-scale survey of students, schools and teachers investigating the teaching of citizenship in schools and students’ sense of political and social awareness.
The project is funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), investigating national developments in civic or citizenship education for 14-year-olds within an international context. It is a two-phase study, carried out under the aegis of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). In the first phase, 24 participating countries gathered information in their own country on approaches to civic education and completed a comprehensive National Case Study Report for inclusion in the international database. England’s report traces the background to citizenship education and relates it to current debates about political awareness and social cohesion. It describes the diversity of practice in schools and sets out the challenges involved in incorporating citizenship education into the school curriculum. The second phase started in 1998 and consists of a major international survey in 29 countries of young people’s attitudes, experiences and understanding of citizenship education.
The goal of Phase 2 is to identify and examine in a comparative framework the ways in which young people are prepared to undertake their role as citizens in democracies and societies aspiring to democracy, as well as the aspects of political identity that are important to them. A primary purpose is to obtain a picture of how young people are initiated into the various levels and types of political community of which they are members; this includes an investigation of influences in and out of school.
The Phase 2 work in England was undertaken between November 1998 and September 2001. One-hundred-and -twenty-eight schools took part in a survey in November 1999 which included a test to be completed by students and questionnaires for students, teachers and headteachers.
Students: a sample of about 3,000 14-year-olds in the 128 schools completed a test and two questionnaires lasting 90 minutes. These assessed five types of student capacities: knowledge, skills, concepts, attitudes and actions. The Part One Test was multiple choice and assessed students’ knowledge and understanding of citizenship-related issues. The Part Two questionnaire provided background information on the students and the Part Three questionnaire assessed students’ skills, understanding of concepts, attitudes and actions.
Schools and Teachers: Questionnaires were also administered to teachers (three in each of the survey schools) in ‘citizenship-related’ subjects, and to headteachers on issues relating to policy, provision and organisation.