chapter  8
14 Pages

England: Searching for Citizenship


Civics and citizenship education are principally concerned with developing knowledge, skills and dispositions that develop the capacity of individuals and groups to understand and become involved in contemporary democratic society as well as to contribute to its further development. Of course all education, directly or indirectly, is relevant to these ambitions but it is in the particular connection with democracy in public contexts that citizenship education becomes most obviously signifi cant. Defi nitions or characterisations of citizenship education are notoriously contested. The new Labour government in 1997, concerned about civic disengagement, commissioned Sir Bernard Crick to chair a committee that would clarify the meaning of citizenship. The resulting report came to be seen as a seminal document and would lay the ground for the introduction of the National Curriculum in citizenship. The report includes the following:

So what do we mean by ‘effective education for citizenship’? We mean three things, related to each other, mutually dependent on each other, but each needing a somewhat different place and treatment in the curriculum: social and moral responsibility; community involvement and political literacy. Firstly, children learning from the very beginning self confi dence and socially and morally responsible behaviour both in and beyond the classroom, both towards those in authority and towards each other . . . Secondly, learning about and becoming helpfully involved in the life and concerns of their communities, including learning through community involvement and service to the community . . . Thirdly, pupils learning about and how to make themselves effective in public life through knowledge skills and values-what can be called ‘political literacy’ searching for a term that is wider than political knowledge alone. (Crick Report 1998, pp. 11-13)

In this chapter I review what has happened in citizenship education in England in the past and then in the present (and including some discussion

of the future), and raise some issues about the structure of schooling, relevant processes of learning and curriculum frameworks. The chapter ends with some overarching refl ections on the challenges for citizenship education and those who teach and learn it.