Headlines: October 30th, 2009

Compulsory citizenship education is having a positive impact on students’ confidence, tolerance and respect, according to a new study. The National Foundation for Educational Research also points to improvements in behaviour and attitudes and a greater awareness of current affairs and engagement with the community.

Citizenship has been part of the national curriculum since 2002 and today’s study says it is increasingly accepted by secondary school leaders and teachers but it is still not firmly embedded in a minority of schools where students may not be getting their statutory entitlement. The report, ‘Embedding Citizenship Education in Secondary Schools in England’ is NFER’s latest report from its groundbreaking Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study.

It says one of the main successes has been that many schools see citizenship education as helping young people to prepare for life in modern society, building their confidence and conviction to ‘have a say’ now and to participate more in the community and vote in elections in future. Students reported that CE lessons tended to involve more active participation than those in other subjects.

The study shows that the progress in the subject has been marked by ‘considerable ebb and flow’. The subject, it says, is still evolving and more needs to be done to increase pupils’ participation in and outside school, to improve awareness to end students’ confusion about citizenship and general personal, social and health education. It adds that delivery can be undermined by weak leadership and the low status of CE.

David Kerr, Director of the Longitudinal Study, said: “It has taken time but there are clear signs in this report that Citizenship has become accepted in schools, particularly for its forward looking contribution in engaging young people with current issues and preparing them for life in modern society.”