Headlines: September 10th, 2004

Research based on 68 schools in England has found an urgent and ongoing need for practical support for effective citizenship education even though both teachers and pupils are enthusiastic about the subject. “Citizenship in the Curriculum – two years on” – has been published by CSV to mark the second anniversary of citizenship being made a compulsory element of the secondary school curriculum.

The new study builds on research conducted a year ago and compares the attitudes towards citizenship of 194 pupils with those of their teachers at 68 schools across the country. More than half the teachers surveyed said having sufficient support to find opportunities for citizenship outside the school presented one of the greatest challenges to effective implementation of subject. There was also an increase in the number of teachers who would prefer a dedicated training course in citizenship.

Despite these concerns, the survey found strong support for the subject from pupils. A quarter of pupils believed it had given them ‘more respect for the community’, and 42 per cent indicated that citizenship had either improved their confidence or improved their communication skills. Nine out of ten pupils felt learning about citizenship was ‘useful’. That result is mirrored by school staff, 89 per cent of them believe their students view citizenship as ‘relevant to real life’.

In answer to a new question about student behaviour, almost a third of teachers felt that citizenship had improved behaviour and six per cent of students said their own behaviour had improved as result of teaching of the subject.

The report calls on the government to initiate a coherent and affordable national training programme using the expertise of statutory bodies, local authorities and the voluntary sector. It also urges greater encouragement for schools to involve pupils more fully in the planning and processes of the teaching of citizenship and extra support for extending Volunteer Teacher Support Teams to help build links between schools and their communities.