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Inspection and Advisory Service (HIAS)


What is citizenship education?

Citizenship education is about enabling our children and young people to be responsible for themselves and others in their communities by making their own informed decisions.

It is important that we equip our children and young people with the skills and knowledge not by just teaching about citizenship, but by involving them to participate fully in school and public life.

"Citizenship is more than a subject. If taught well and tailored to local needs, its skills and values will enhance democratic life for all of us, both rights and responsibilities, beginning in school and radiating out."

Bernard Crick, National Curriculum Citizenship, 1999

In the primary curriculum, citizenship should be delivered together with PSHE. As children become more aware of the world around them, Citizenship needs to focus on engaging in society and exercising rights and responsibilities in school and in local, national and global communities.

In the secondary curriculum, citizenship is statutory and builds upon the foundations taught in primary schools so young people explore a series of deep and meaningful concepts and processes around justice, democracy, rights and responsibilities. It also increases young people's knowledge, skills and conviction to have an effective role in public and political life and support them so young people can take action to change their communities for the better.

Remember that our young people are not just citizens of today, but citizens of all our futures.

Competencies for teaching citizenship

To facilitate learning in citizenship, teachers need to understand how to teach the skills of:

In Key Stages 3 and 4

  • persuasive writing
  • discussion and debate
  • reflecting on contemporary issues
  • analysis of a variety of sources and statistics
  • participation, negotiation and comprimise
  • reaching consensus decisions.

In addition at Key Stage 4

  • critical evaluation.

To facilitate learning in citizenship, teachers need the background knowledge and understanding to be able to teach about:

In Key Stages 3 and 4

  • legal and human rights
  • basic knowledge of the criminal justice system and the relationship to young people
  • diversity, ethnic identities
  • central and local government, parliament, the electoral system and the importance of voting
  • voluntary bodies
  • the importance of the media
  • the global community and disparities which exist.

In addition at Key Stage 4

  • the civil justice system
  • making and shaping laws
  • effecting social change
  • the importance of a free press
  • rights and responsibilities of consumers, employers, employees
  • the UK's relations within Europe and global independence and responsibility.

Citizenship Key Stage 1 and 2 ('Preparing to play an active role as citizens' – section 2 are the citizenship objectives which sits within the PSHE curriculum)

The school self-evaluation tool for PSHE and citizenship education in primary schools PDF

Association of citizenship teaching (Specific website around understanding citizenship)