Headlines: January 22nd, 2010

A new report from Ofsted shows that schools are making encouraging progress in establishing citizenship as a secure part of the curriculum, with just over half of the secondary schools visited judged good or outstanding for students’ achievement in their knowledge and learning.

The best schools do not just teach citizenship in classrooms, but help pupils become active citizens as well, by giving them opportunities to take on leadership roles in their school community, through volunteering or community action, or as part of a school council.

The report shows the best examples of citizenship education are often found in schools where citizenship has dedicated and regular space on the timetable. Those schools that rely too heavily on suspending the normal timetable to provide occasional time for citizenship are most unlikely to meet National Curriculum requirements.

Increasing numbers of students are taking the citizenship GCSE short course, up from 51,297 in 2006 to 84,588 in 2008, and there has been an improvement in results with 54.7 per cent of students attaining A* to C compared to 52.4 per cent in 2006.

The survey also identified a need for more in-service training in citizenship for teachers, with schools slow to take up places on continuing professional development courses funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. These courses were found to be of good quality, with schools and teachers benefiting from improved professional knowledge and understanding of citizenship.

Local authorities are urged to consider how they can support schools in developing citizenship programmes and facilitate networks of teachers to encourage schools to become involved where provision is weak.

Other recommendations from the report include maintaining the numbers of trainee places for initial teacher education and the level of provision for continuing professional development in citizenship and promoting the take-up of courses for continuing professional development in this area.