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How Citizenship education is educated

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5383 words Published: 28th Apr 2017

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How Citizenship education is educated and implemented within Scottish schools.

1. Abstract

This project aims to investigate how Citizenship education is presented and implemented within Scottish schools. Scotland differs from the rest of the United Kingdom in that citizenship as a subject has not been formally introduced, rather it is seen as being ‘active’ and should be taught in all subjects across the school curriculum, thus impacting both inside and outside the school.

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The data presented I this project was gathered during the six weeks of my second placement in 2008 in a non-denominational state school in East Lothian and was carried out in the form of staff interviews and a pupil’s focus group. During the staff interviews, their views on the different elements of learning within Citizenship education; knowledge & understanding, skills & aptitudes and values, were discussed. A pupil’s focus group was set up and the group discussed; citizenship in the school: social & moral issues, rights & responsibilities, the school & wider community, politics & democracy and the environment.

The results show that, the school are actively promoting the elements of citizenship in most areas of its subject’s curriculum. Through such subject classes as social education, chemistry and music, the school is providing pupils with the knowledge, awareness and skills to face the usual ‘citizenship issues’ that occurred within it and the wider community. However, if the pupils are going to be led into become active citizens, more effort needs to be made to make them aware of exactly what citizenship is and more importantly, why it is being taught to them.

2. Summary

In September 2002 citizenship education was introduced through a Citizenship order to the National Curriculum in England. The order emphasised that “teaching should ensure that knowledge and understanding about being informed citizens are required and applied when developing skills of enquiry and communication, and participation and responsible action.” (Arthur and Wright, 2001:11)

Rather than introduce citizenship education as a defined subject into its National Curriculum, Scotland has opted to make its outcomes, knowledge and understanding; skills and competences; values and dispositions; and creativity and enterprise, an integral part of each subject taught. Thus citizenship skills are integrated across the whole school.

In the Scottish Executive’s 2004 paper, A Curriculum for Excellence – the Curriculum Review Group, schools and teachers are asked to produce a curriculum that will ready the youth of today for adulthood, which will “be less crowded” and will ”offer more choice and enjoyment.”

Our aspiration is to enable all children to develop their capacities as successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society”. (Scottish Executive, 2004:6).

The purpose of this project is to investigate the implementation of citizenship education in Scottish schools at this moment. For this investigation I used qualitative research; this involved interviewing members of staff at all levels and mediating a pupil’s focus group,

The result of my project implies that, whilst the successive governments and educational establishments realise the importance of citizenship education in giving “pupils the knowledge, skills and understanding to play an effective role in society at local, national and international levels”, (QCA, 1999 cited by Kerr, 2006: p5) most of the pupils who took part in the focus group had no knowledge of the term citizenship or the concepts behind it and because of that they failed to recognise its elements within the schools curriculum. The pupils also showed that their knowledge of politics or democracy was sadly lacking.

However when the various areas of citizenship were discussed with the pupils, they realised that they did recognise them and were actively involved in using them. This suggests that, although the term citizenship has little or no conceptual meaning to the pupils, they are gaining practical experience of it through subjects in the schools curriculum as well as through the school as a whole.

3. Statement of purposes or objectives

In its paper; A Curriculum for Excellence – The Curriculum Review Group, the Scottish Executive states:

Our aspiration for all children and for every young person is that they should be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors tosociety and at work. By providing structure, support and direction to young people’s learning,the curriculum should enable them to develop these four capacities. The curriculum should complement the important contributions of families and communities”. (2004:12)

Through the Curriculum for Excellence, the Scottish Executive suggests four capacities of education that will be the basis of Scottish education. These are: Successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.

Since it is the responsibility of the whole school to develop the four capacities in all their pupils, the drive toward building responsible citizens should not progress in isolation rather is should be presented across the whole curriculum. “Activities such as enterprise, citizenship, sustainable development, health and creativity, which are often seen as add-ons, can be built into the curriculum framework”. (Scottish Executive, 2006:8).

Because of these changes teachers will need to think about the curriculum and how they present it in a different way. Reflection will be essential for their personal development. Teachers will no longer be able to be insular in their own subject, for as well as remembering to implement the four capacities in their own subject, they must also be aware of presenting them across the school as a whole.

Since the Curriculum for Excellence has still to be introduced, the main purpose of this project is to investigate how citizenship being presented and implemented in Scottish schools at this moment. In order to address this question, it was essential for me to also investigate the following sub questions:

  • How the school presented citizenship?
  • Did all subjects in the schools curriculum make a contribution to citizenship?
  • Were its pupils aware of the term “citizenship” and did they understand the concept behind it?
  • Was citizenship promoted across the school as a whole?

In doing this project the author hopes that it will aid him in the implementation of citizenship education in his own subject thus improving his own teaching practice.

4. Literature Review

The question of “what is citizenship?” is very difficult to define; David Kerr argues that it “…is a contested concept. At the heart of the contest are differing views about the function and organisation of society.” (Kerr, 2006:6). Kerr’s definition of citizenship education is to “…encompass the preparation of young people for their roles and responsibilities as citizens.” (Kerr, 2006:7). Audrey Osler and Hugh Starkey state that “Citizenship is a site of political struggle.” (Osler and Starkey, 2005:11). They go on to define it as “having two essential aspects, first a status and a set of duties and secondly a practise and an entitlement to rights” (Osler and Starkey, 2006:6). Olser and Starkey also argue that “…citizenship is probably immediately experienced as a feeling of belonging.” (Osler and Starkey, 2006:6). An explanation in a Scottish Executive paper offers the explanation that “Everyone belongs to various types of community, both communities of place, from local to global, and communities of interest, rooted in a common concern or purpose.” (Scottish Executive 2000:8) Concluding that “Citizenship involves enjoying rights and exercising responsibilities in these various types of communities” (Scottish Executive 2000:8). According to the Citizenship Foundation, “It [citizenship] refers not only to rights and responsibilities laid down in the law, but also to general forms of behaviour – social and moral – which societies expect of their citizens.” (The Citizenship Foundation 2006:2).

These different definitions do seem to identify a common theme of citizenship, namely that, in order to be a viewed as a full member of their community, people need to actively exercise their rights and responsibilities in three areas; civil, social and political. (Marshall, 1964 cited by Kennedy, 1997:67).

Historically the roots of citizenship can be found in Sparta, ancient Greece where “civilian duty conscientiously performed was also expected of the good citizen. This would involve virtuous obedience to the laws and participation in the Assembly” (Heater, 2004:11). This earliest form of citizenship, which was also a feature of ancient Rome, may befar removed from the concept of it as we understand it today but it did signal a definite movement away from the previous autocratic form of governing.

Throughout the ages citizenship continued to develop and have found expression in many diverse societies and cultures as far apart as post-revolutionary France and post-independence USA – where it was enshrined in the constitution and served as the catalyst for societal change – to the European Union of today where the proposed single constitution is heavily predicated on the idea of a ‘European citizen’ as a mechanism to galvanise the various disparate cultures.

Before Citizenship was introduction into the curriculum in England in 2002 as a discreet subject, it had been previously recommended for inclusion twice before. Both times saw Britain in crises of war. In 1918, at the end of World War 1, the Primer of English Citizenship was published by Frederick Swann “…to endorse the moral character of the British Citizen.” (Brandom, 2007:269). The Association for Education in World Citizenship, (AEWC), was setup in 1935 to, “preserve the democratic fabric of society in response to the rise of totalitarianism”. (Brandom, 2007:269). Despite the AEWC’s concept of citizenship being adhered to in schools in the post-war years, there was no official addition of citizenship as a subject into the curriculum.

According to Anne-Marie Brandom, citizenship was given “some form legislative recognition” (2007:270) in the 1988 Education Reform Act but the curriculum time-table was so overcrowded that it failed to be implemented.

Recommendations were also made in a 1990 report, Encouraging Citizenship, as to ways of “facilitating social citizenship through schools, voluntary efforts and public services” (Arthur and Wright, 2001:7) but again there was sparse application of it.

In the latter part of the 1990’s politicians were concerned with the gradual decline of British culture and society. This deterioration was particularly prevalent amongst the countries youth and because of it, there was a noticeable increase in anti-social behaviour, truancy and high school exclusions. To counter this, an advisory group chaired by Professor Bernard Crick was formed to “establish the aims and functions of citizenship ion schools”. (Brandom, 2007:271) The Crick report, (as it became know), categorised citizenship in three lines: “understanding social and moral responsibility; becoming involved in the community; developing political literacy”. (Brandom, 2007:271) The Crick report heavily relied on the previously mentioned Marshall definition of the three elements that make up citizenship; the civil, the social and the political. These elements were underpinned by the idea of the child as a future citizen. (Brandom, 2007:272)

One of the recommendations from the Crick report was that citizenship education should be given 5% of curriculum time. That and other recommendations helped form the requirements for citizenship education in the Revised National Curriculum 2000.

The Revised National Curriculum 2000 incorporates three strands: understanding social and moral responsibility; becoming involved in the community; and developing political literacy” (QCA/DfEE, 1999:6 cited in (Brandom, 2007:272). As a result of these three strands, pupils are to: become informed citizens; develop skills of enquiry and communication; develop skills of participation and responsible action.” (QCA/DfEE, 1999:6 cited in (Brandom, 2007:272)

Unlike most England, most of Europe, North America and Australia, citizenship has not ever been formally introduced into the Scottish schools curriculum.

In the 2000 consultation paper Education for Citizenship in Scotland stated that citizenship education in Scottish schools would “not involve the creation of a new subject ‘citizenship education’ – or the adaptation of any single existing area of the curriculum”. (Scottish Executive 2000:16) Instead it would be done through “combinations of learning experiences set in the daily life of the school, discrete areas of the curriculum, cross-curricular experiences and activities involving links with the local community.” (Scottish Executive 2000:16)

The papers membership of the review group was chaired by Professor Pamela Munn of Edinburgh University who supported the opinion of a whole-school approach to citizenship education, commenting that:

To appear to locate ‘citizenship education’ in one particular post-14 course of study would appear to be inconsistent with the broad view of education for citizenship being advanced in this paper.” (Scottish Executive 2000 cited in Arthur and Wright, 2003:16)

The review group concluded that citizenship education in Scotland is “integral to the education of students and consisting in the whole curriculum and ethos of the school.” (Arthur and Wright, 2003:16).

The soon to be introduced curriculum for excellence shares the same views of the non-introduction of citizenship education as a discreet subject. In the 2004 curriculum review group paper ‘a curriculum for excellence’, citizenship education is still presented as being a whole-school approach but it also encompasses the family and the community:

They should be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society and at work. By providing structure, support and direction to young people’s learning, the curriculum should enable them to develop these four capacities. The curriculum should complement the important contributions of families and communities” (Scottish Executive 2004:12)

In 2006 ‘a curriculum for excellence’ progress and proposal was published. This paper was follow up to the 2004 curriculum review group paper previously discussed. Again the whole-school approach is advocated, this time with outside support from other organisations, making citizenship education totally active not just across the whole school or local community but globally.

“The whole school has responsibility for developing the four capacities in every child and young person. This has implications for the contributions of each adult who supports children and young people, and for whole-school policies, planning and partnerships with other organisations.” (Scottish Executive 2006:8)

5. Outcomes

The focus of this project was to look at how citizenship was both presented and implemented within my second placement school. I further investigated its implementation within my own subjects department and also looked for evidence of cross-curricular activities. For the purposes of researching this project, I conducted staff interviews and mediated a pupil’s focus group. This allowed me investigate which elements of citizenship were included by the staff whilst teaching their own subject. It also provided me with as gage as to the extent of the staff and pupils knowledge and understanding of citizenship.

In looking at teaching citizenship within my own subject I designed four lessons on world music. This gave my class and I the opportunity to examine other cultures and their music. The materials produced which were specific to the cultures we were investigating; Brazil, Cuba, Indonesia and Ghana. Through the lessons the class were able to; discuss the background to the music and how the music made them feel, develop their practical skills by playing the music both individually and as a group and learn how to listen effectively. (To most pupils music is a background noise; they ‘hear’ music in a lift, in a shopping centre and on their MP3 players as they study.) Teaching music and citizenship in this ‘active’ way allowed me much scope for personal reflection, asking myself; what went well, what needed to be improved and what would do differently next time? This in turn helped with my own personal development not just as a music teacher but as a ‘whole’ teacher.

6. Methods

In researching this project I decided to use a variety of different methods. My main reasons for this was that in my previous research project I used observation as the main line of my investigation and I felt that if I used a variety of research methods this time I could expect better responses from both staff and pupils alike.

6.1 Staff interviews

Through the schools regent, meetings were arranged with members of staff who were willing to comment on how citizenship has been implemented in their department in the school. The staff members I met up with were: the Citizenship Co-ordinator, the Head of the Department for Science, the Head of the Department for Social Education and a teacher from the music department.

A meeting of fifteen to twenty minutes with each of the above staff members was arranged. I had prepared and circulated a number of key questions in advance of the meetings. (Appendix 1). The questions focused on how citizenship is delivered in both their department and through the school as a whole. I asked each member of staff for permission to tape the interviews I conducted and all agreed. This enabled me to check the details I had written down against the recordings, thus ensuring that my analysis was accurate and presented a true reflection of their views.

what are the Advantages/disadvantages?

The interviews with the staff members proved to be very successful, with all my aims and objectives being met. At the end of each interview they also agreed to make themselves available by email to clarify any issues that might have arisen whilst I was writing up the research.

6.2 Pupil’s focus group

With the schools permission, a focus group consisting of a cross section of S1 to S6 pupils was arranged to take place one lunchtime. A sheet containing the main topic headings of the discussion was given to the pupils taking part in order to give them time to prepare for it. (Appendix 2).

My task as the mediator of the group was to keep the discussion open ended whilst keeping it on the topic. To help keep them further on subject and help direct their thinking I wrote the subject headings of the topics to be discussed on the room’s whiteboard. A high level of pupil interaction ensued, from which the data for this report emerged.

This method of gathering data from the pupils has it advantages and disadvantages. The advantages being that it allows for a non-threatening approach thus resulting in an open uninhibited discussion. The use of this method also gave the pupils a way to discuss and if need be, challenge each other’s views in a safe, friendly, non-threatening environment.

The Disadvantage of conducting the focus group was that a few of the stronger personalities began to influence and take over group discussion thereby making it difficult for the quieter pupils to air their views. Because of this I frequently asked the group if everyone agreed with a comment made or asked if that was what everyone thought. I also called on a couple of pupils by name to discover their opinions on comments made.

I again asked and received permission from the school and the pupils to record the focus group discussion; this allowed me to mediate the group without having to quickly write down what was being said. In doing this I was able to accurately summarise the content of the discussion at a later time.

Twelve pupils, two from each year, attended the focus group and their contributions to it will be analysed in the following chapter.

7. Analysis

From the outset it needs to be recognised that with only four staff members interviewed and one pupils’ focus group conducted, the findings presented in this professional project can only be regarded as being preliminary, however, my research did uncover a number of interesting findings concerning the implementation of citizenship within the school. The remainder of this section will analyse the views and opinions made during both the interviews with the staff members and the pupil’s focus group. Because only four staff members were interviewed, their views are presented separately, thus allowing for a more detailed exploration of them.

7.1 Staff interviews

Meeting One: Coordinator of Citizenship

This staff member was honest in explained to me that he was new to the school and that although part of his duties included being the Coordinator of Citizenship he was still trying to familiarise himself with the responsibilities and duties concerning it. He is at the moment undertaking an audit on Citizenship within the school in which he was looking at; where the school is at with it, what repetition between the departments there is and what the school need to do more off. He knew from meetings he had attended within the school that all departments had Citizenship listed as something they were to look at in their improvement plans but until he knew the result of his audit he wouldn’t know if or how it had been implemented.

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He told met the school was trying to integrate Citizenship rather than have it viewed as a “bolt on’. Various strategies had been introduced this school year such as junior and senior student councils, both of which had a budget, the re-establishment of houses and house captains and the implementation of activity days such as “succeed and enterprise” through-out the year.

Meeting Two: Head of Department for Science

This member of staff expressed that she was worried when she agreed to be interviewed that her department would be found to be lacking in integrating the elements of citizenship education into their teaching, however, the audit she did on her department proved these fear to be unfounded.

Knowledge and Understanding are promoted in Science using topics such as; eco chemistry, genetics and nuclear chemistry. In eco chemistry the pupils study the environment, the effects of pollution on it and global warming. Genetics deals with the ethical issues of genetic engineering. Nuclear chemistry looks at nuclear power and what alternatives are available.

Skills and Aptitude: it was explained to me that the school ran their Higher curriculum over two years, thus gave the department time to include developing the pupils skills of presenting, discussion and debating.

Through group work where the pupils are encouraged to think critically about the topics covered and the experiments they are asked to perform. They are encouraged to learn and find out through research, analysis and exploration after which their results are presented to the rest of the groups/teams where they are argued, discussed and debated. An example of this is the genetics unit in which genetic engineering and test tube babies are discussed. Informed arguments are given for and against, the pupils are encouraged to realise that there is no right or wrong here only their opinion.

Values: the science department has a set of rules for respect; pupils are encouraged to respect themselves and their peers and teachers. They are taught to respect the classroom and the equipment within it. They are also taught to value the opinion of others, as all points of view are valid. Respect for the wider community, the environment and the planet are amongst other values taught.

Meeting Three: Head of Department for Social Education

This member of staff was very experienced in presenting and delivering the social education programme, he demonstrated an obvious understanding of how citizenship should be integrated in the curriculum and across the school as a whole.

Knowledge and Understanding: Social Education is timetabled for an hour a week for 1st to 4th year pupils and for two hours a week for 5th and 6th. Within Social Education knowledge and understanding are promoted using such topics as; money and the world of banking, sex education, right and responsibilities, equal opportunities, personal development, careers education, social development, where the school sits within East Lothian, within Scotland and the world as a whole, drugs and alcohol education and keeping safe. Within the rights and responsibilities unit pupils are taught the schools anti-bulling policy, any major bulling incidents result in the issuing of a rights and bulling contract, this has resulted in a 95% success rate of them being resolved in school.

Skills and Aptitudes: promoting and developing skills in pupils to cope with a changing multi-cultural world, being taught respect for others and toleration through a partnership with themselves, the school, their parents and the police, that their school is a reflection of society – what they learn in school can mould and shape society, communication and group work/ teamwork, body language and coping skills for both the classroom and society – skills and strategies are provided to help the pupils cope within their peer group and also help them to avoid being coerced into sex, taking drugs or drinking alcohol, critical thinking – pupils are encouraged to realise that during debates there are no right or wrong answers, they are given relevant information so that they can make an informed choice, they are taught to think, pair and share – pupils are asked to think of their own opinion on a subject, pair up with a partner and discuss it, take part in a group discussion, feed back to the class thus promoting effective contribution and critical thinking.

Values: within the Social Education lessons pupils are expected to respect themselves, their peers and their teachers. They are taught to respect the classroom and to create a safe environment for everyone within it. Through their partnership with the police, the school and their parents they are taught to respect the law, democracy and justice. They are taught to stand up for themselves and defend their own point of view.

Meeting Four: Music Teacher

This member of staff was new to the department and spoke of her experience both in that and her previous school. Disappointingly, she expressed doubts as to why world music should be taught as part of the curriculum.

Knowledge and Understanding are promoted in music through using such topics as world music. In world music the pupils study music from Cuba, Brazil, Ghana, India and Indonesia, learning about their culture, the instruments they use and the differences between their music and music from the West. Pupils are also taught not to waste the planets resources by switching off electrical equipment when it is not in use.

Skills and Aptitude: a large part of developing skills and aptitudes in music is done through the participation in different events with in the community. The music department has taken pupils to entertain the senior citizens at Christmas time, had pupils participate in the Rotary club’s young musician of the year contest and has been invited to sing/perform at the opening of a new primary school and housing association. Pupils are encouraged to join the various orchestras and bands that the school runs thus giving them the opportunity to work in groups and build team work. Opinions can also be communicated through song writing.

Values: pupils are taught to respect themselves, their peers and both the classroom and instrumental teachers. The department also teach pupils to respect all genres of music and to have respect for the classroom and the equipment within it.

7.2 Pupils focus group

As was outlined earlier in this project, a focus group session was carried out in order to determine the pupils’ knowledge and understanding of citizenship and how it was taught to them both formally and informally. At the on-set of the session the meaning of citizenship was briefly discussed with the group, after which there was a directed discussion on six different issues concerning it. The discussion produced the following results:

Issue One: Citizenship in the school

The pupils highlighted a number of activities that they though had helped them to develop both personally and socially. These included participation in school trips to Germany and Switzerland, cultural visits such as a visit to the Royal Scottish Museum and a community commitments program, which involved picking up litter, enterprise, presentations and school shows.

Issue Two: Social & Moral issues

The Pupils discussed their involvement in implementing the schools’ anti-bullying initiatives which initially had started as a 5th year community project. They felt that racism was not a problem in the school. The pupils put forward one point of grievance of not being allowed to run any fund raising activities in the school. They felt they would like the opportunity to raise money for worthy causes.

Issue Three: Rights & responsibilities

The pupils felt they had a voice in the school through both the junior and senior pupils’ councils. Their representatives were democratically elected and attended regular meetings of the councils provided a vehicle where pupil’s issues could be raised. Pupils are also put into houses, which have house captains. The houses are awarded points for good behaviour, attendance, competition wins etc.

Issue Four: The school & wider community

There was much evidence of an involvement in the wider community. As part of the previously mentioned community commitments program some pupils had sang at the opening of a new primary school and had read poetry read poetry the residents of an old people home.

Issue Five: Politics & Democracy

There was little evidence of any knowledge of politics or democracy apart from the pupils who had or were studying Modern Studies.

Issue Six: The environment

Pupils noted that, the school runs an Eco Club in which both teachers and pupils discuss way of saving the environment, (local, national and world). They felt that more recycling could be done within the school. There was only one recycling bin and that was in the teachers’ car park. The group had asked for money to provide departments with their own recycling bin but their request was denied.

8. Conclusions

In collecting the evidence from pupils and


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