Last chance to improve the revised National Curriculum for Citizenship!

Wednesday 17 July 2013

We are urging supporters to make one last response to the DFE review of the National Curriculum to ensure Citizenship is the best it can be!

Last week Michael Gove published his updated draft National Curriculum for maintained primary and secondary schools. Whilst we are reassured to see Citizenship is included as a statutory National Curriculum subject, we believe the DFE have missed crucial aspects of Citizenship knowledge and skills that are necessary to prepare young people for life and work in the 21st century. We are disappointed that the proposals also fail to recognise the role of Citizenship within the primary curriculum.

In the previous consultation held in April this year, we raised five key concerns about the DFE proposals and argued Citizenship should:

  • Include a clear requirement to teach about human rights
  • Clarify active citizenship is not just volunteering but involves pupils taking part in genuine social and democratic action in their schools and communities
  • Enhance the new requirement for financial education to include economic understanding and public finance
  • Ensure key stage 3 is not solely focused on the UK but includes the European, international and global dimensions of the subject
  • Improve the subject aims and show appropriate progression between key stages 3 and 4, especially in key aspects such as the law.

See more at:

The latest iteration includes some minor adjustments with human rights and international law having been included at key stage 4. However, the purpose of study, subject aims and breadth of teacher requirements at key stages 3 and 4 all need further work to ensure they address our concerns and offer a clear framework for high quality Citizenship teaching.

We will be making the following key points in our response to the final consultation that closes on 8 August 2013.

  • 1. The skills necessary for pupils to make progress in Citizenship must be made explicit in the revised programmes of study. Pupils should use and apply Citizenship skills whilst developing knowledge and understanding about the subject. Therefore Citizenship must ‘equip pupils with the skills and knowledge to critically explore political and social issues, weigh evidence, debate and make reasoned arguments, and experience and evaluate ways citizens can act together to solve problems’.
  • 2. Active citizenship must be made a requirement at both key stages 3 and 4. The current reference to ‘community volunteering’ at key stage 4 is insufficient and should be expanded to include ‘social action’. At key stage 3, active citizenship is missing entirely. Citizenship without active citizenship is meaningless and key stage 3 should require pupils to be taught about, ‘ways in which citizens can work together to address issues in communities, including opportunities to take part in different forms of responsible and social action in the school and wider community’.
  • 3. Key stage 3 is narrow and bland and does not address the breadth of the subject or provide adequate progression to key stage 4. Teaching about human rights, the international dimension, the exploration of identities and diversity in society and the ways citizens to contribute actively and opportunities for pupils to participate in social action should be included at key stage 3 as well as key stage 4. The proposed requirement to teach about ‘the precious liberties enjoyed by citizens of the UK’ is abstract and likely to be poorly understood and taught. If ‘precious liberties’ means teaching about political, legal and human rights and freedoms then it should say so.
  • 4. If financial education is to be included then it should relate to the subject of citizenship rather than simply adding personal finance which is part of PSHE. Any ‘financial’ element needs to include how economic decisions are made, where public money comes from and how public money is spent. Without this broader context financial education will never move beyond the personal and is likely to be a badly taught ‘bolt on’.

The updated DFE draft is subject to a final, one-month consultation that lasts until 8 August 2013. The updated curriculum will then be finalised, published and sent to schools for first teaching in September 2014.

You can read our response in full here.

We encourage you to have your say and respond now either online or by emailing your comments to:

  • The Secretary of State’s statement and links to the document can be found here.
  • Updated programmes of study for Citizenship can be found here along with details of how you can respond.

2 Responses to “Last chance to improve the revised National Curriculum for Citizenship!”

  1. Najma says:

    I totally agree with Liz Moorse’s comments on what should be included in the new Citizenship programme. Children, especially from primary age should be taught and made aware if global issues and issues in the uk. How can we instill empathy, understanding of justice if they don’t see what’s happening around them globally and understand it? Children can empower as responsible and resilient individuals but they need to be able to learn, respect and empathise with people globally, learning about human rights and responsibilities.

    If we are to enhance a good society then we must instil rights and responsibilities, respect and empathy in our children for them to strive and lead future generation justifiably.
    Yes learning about the uk finance and economics us useful but we need children with above qualities that will do so.

  2. […] to campaign for the strengthening of the Citizenship curriculum. As well as contributing to Democratic Life’s response to the consultation we wrote a response on behalf of the Smart School Councils Community. We used the response […]

Leave a Reply