Delivery of Citizenship and PHSE within UK Schools
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Published: Mon, 12 Feb 2018
This project addresses the problems that are currently being encountered with regard to the delivery of citizenship and PHSE within UK schools. To give emergent themes context – an historical review of their academic treatment is presented. This is broadened by considering the United States delivery of these subjects to determine whether the UK can learn anything from the American experience. Documentary analysis and interview schedules are the research methods used to analyse secondary sources and generate primary data. A number of conclusions are drawn – namely these subjects must be linked to current issues (e.g. AIDS/HIV, global citizenship etc) of the day – to ensure that their content and delivery remain relevant to the needs of young people. Recommendations for a more flexible approach regarding the delivery and assessment of these subjects are made at the end of the study.
1.1 What Does “Citizenship” Mean?
Before it is possible to critically review and evaluate th eeffectiveness of the learning and teaching methods that are used to deliver citizenship and PHSE, it is necessary to begin by analysing their rationale and curricular content. In other words what are these subjects about and what are the benefits that pupils gain by studying them? Answering this question will provide a framework within which it can be determined whethercurrent academic practices are satisfying the aims and objectives ofthese subjects.
Citizenship is a concept that can have a myriad of meanings andinterpretations. There is no universally agreed definition. Models of citizenship vary from country to country. The concept is continuously contested by political parties, academics and pressure groups. Despite the many interpretations of the concept that exist, all notions of citizenship imply to a greater or lesser degree, membership of apolitical community that is internally defined by rights, duties, participation and identity. The term “Active Citizenship” is widely used, but again there is no single accepted definition. The phrase is open to interpretation.
From an educational perspective when there is no universally accepteddefinition of a concept, it makes it extremely difficult to transform such a subject into a meaningful learning experience for young people. In other words there are no “hard and fast” rules which can be appliedby teachers. When a concept has a clear and universally accepteddefinition, it provides the means by which to breakdown the subject into manageable chunks of learning. Thus students become skilled and knowledgeable when applying each component to a given set of circumstances.
For example, in Business Studies, if you wish to measure the financialperformance of a company, it is possible to apply a number ofuniversally accepted accounting ratios. This forms a set of“standards”, which are quantifiable and which can be applied in a constant manner to a variety of different situations over a period of time. When it is possible to apply clearly defined and universally accepted standards to a subject or a concept – it becomes relativelyeasy to teach and learn.
When a student understands how each component of a subject works, it isthen possible to interlink these areas and increase the complexity oflearning activities. Thus over time the student will master each stage(i.e. knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis,evaluation) of the cognitive learning domain (Source:www.businessballs.com, Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains).Students will have a holistic view of the subject content and willunderstand how the constituent components interlink.
Given that citizenship does not have a universally accepted definition; is it possible to develop a set of “standards”, which can be constantly applied? Citizenship poses serious problems for educationalists interms of its definition and delivery as a subject to young people throughout the UK. What are the statutory requirements for teaching citizenship? It is a statutory subject at key stages 3 and 4. Apartfrom the absence of an eight-level scale of achievement, it is treatedexactly the same as other foundation subjects in the National Curriculum. Schools are required to establish high standards for citizenship that are comparable with standards in other subjects (Source:www.dfes.gov.uk/citizenship).
1.2 What Are The Similarities Between Citizenship And PHSE?
Both subjects are similar in their emphasis on values and attitudes,and in their concern to empower young people to act effectively andwith self-confidence. They are also similar in some of the themes they explore; such drug abuse and equal opportunities – and their emphasison active learning techniques like role play and discussion. What distinguishes the two concepts are their focus and content. PHSE focuses on personal and inter-personal decision making, whilecitizenship education deals with “public policy”. PHSE is concernedwith students’ choices as private individuals, the other with their rights as citizens.
For example, a typical PSHE lesson on smoking deals withlegal rights and responsibilities, whereas a citizenship lesson focuseson the cost to society – exploring issues such as legislation onsmoking in public places or tobacco advertising. Thus citizenship canbe viewed as the global or societal perspective on key issues e.g.smoking etc. PHSE, on the other hand, concentrates on the needs, expectations and responsibilities of the individual.
1.3 Why Is It Necessary To Investigate The Teaching And Learning Methods Of Citizenship and PSHE?
In 2004 the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) published areport (PSHE 2002/3 annual report on curriculum and assessment, QCA,March 2004) on the delivery of PSHE within schools in England. In thesummary of key findings it was noted that in some schools, there wasconfusion about what the differences and similarities between PSHE andcitizenship. Also even when schools had allocated a significant amount of curriculum time to the delivery of their PSHE programmes, it was rare for the assessment of pupils’ progress and achievement to take place. Ever since the National Curriculum was launched in 1988 there have been major concerns over the time available to deliver all of the core subjects (e.g. English, Mathematics etc). The introduction of new subjects (i.e. Citizenship in September 2002) places an even greater pressure on school timetables, teaching staff and resources.
The major problems may be summarised as follows:
a. As explained in section 1.1 there is no universally accepted definition of citizenship.
b. There is confusion over the similarities and differences between citizenship and PSHE.
c. The lack of quantifiable assessment strategies makes it verydifficult to evaluate the benefits pupils gain from the delivery ofthese subjects.
d. Severe timetable constraints and a lack of appropriately trainedteaching staff are hindering the effective development and delivery ofthese areas.
Therefore, the objectives of this project are as follows:
a. To critically evaluate and review the learning and teachingmethods which are currently being used to deliver citizenship and PSHEin order to determine whether pupils are benefiting from thesestrategies.
b. To identify examples of good practice and analyse whether they can be applied elsewhere.
c. To analyse how these subjects and their interrelationship willdevelop in the future and determine how learning and teaching methodswill need to change in order to satisfy the new requirements.
2.1 The Teaching of Citizenship in UK Schools – A Historical Perspective
The teaching of citizenship in UK schools has a long and problematicalhistory. Since the beginning of the twentieth century it has undergonea number of transformations. Up to the outbreak of the First World War,the purpose of citizenship education was to generate a sense ofnational cohesion, loyalty and obligation to the nature, as well as asense of pride in the Empire (Oliver and Heater, 1994). The secondphase of citizenship in education witnessed the rise of a more directapproach. That is, the systematic training of young people in deferenceand moral behaviour. Schools were encouraged to promote and cultivatethe “simple virtues of humility, service, restraint and respect forpersonality” (Ministry of Education, 1949, p.41), in their pupils.
The 1960s brought a new emphasis regarding the delivery of citizenshipin schools. Notably that young people needed to become more politicallyaware and more active in their participation of social issues. A morerecent development (1990) witnessed the introduction of citizenshipinto the National Curriculum as a cross-curricular theme. Suchcross-curricular themes have suffered a chequered history and remain atthe margins of school timetables with the main thrust of deliveryconcentrating on core subjects and other academic considerations.
This historical perspective of citizenship provides an insight into theproblems the subject has faced because of its poor definition andineffectual delivery. To rectify this situation a government proposalsought to “establish more explicit and coherent provision in the areasof personal, social and health education and citizenship” (DfEE, 1999,p. 1). The proposal aimed to introduce a framework across all keystages for personal, social and health education and citizenship.Furthermore, this development established “a coherent nationalframework which gives schools flexibility to develop their ownapproaches.” (DfEE, 1999, p. 13).
Whilst this approach raised the profile of citizenship and sought toestablish it as an integral part of the National Curriculum, it createda number of problems. How exactly was it going to fit into a schooltimetable? As outlined earlier, in section 1.3, there have beennumerous problems with the National Curriculum, since its launch in1988. In 1999, there were yet again a number of government initiativesto reduce the prescriptive nature of the National Curriculum andprovide schools with greater flexibility. On the whole these changeslike previous initiatives only resulted in cosmetic changes.
The other major problem with the new version of citizenship lay withthe delivery. Who exactly was going to teach this subject? It wasproposed that the knowledge required to teach the subject could begained from the core of an initial teacher training degree orpostgraduate certificate in education. Teachers already delivering PSHEcould acquire the knowledge and skills required to deliver citizenshipthrough continuous professional development.
Having analysed the teaching of citizenship within the UK in terms ofthe current situation and from an historical perspective, it isnecessary to explore how this issue is dealt with by other countries.This will provide the opportunity to compare and contrast the UKexperience with other nations and determine whether there are anylessons to be learnt. In other words are there examples of goodpractice overseas? If so, is it transferable to schools in the UK?
2.2 The Teaching of Citizenship in the United States
In the United States education for citizenship has been a longstanding goal of schools. To achieve this goal, students must learntheir civil rights and responsibilities in a free society. In 1991 JohnJ Patrick provided a review of why this was necessary and outlined howit could be achieved. Five key points, which are outlined below, formedthe basis of this review.
a. The importance of teaching about the responsibilities of citizenship
b. Deficiencies in learning about responsible citizenship
c. How to improve learning about responsible citizenship at home
d. How to improve learning about responsible citizenship at school
e. Where to obtain information and materials about how to teach responsible citizenship
The rationale for teaching citizenship was based upon the premise thatthe preservation of civil rights and liberties is linked to theperformance of responsibilities. Thus the responsibilities ofcitizenship – such as voluntary service to the community, participationin the political system etc – were essential to ensure the maintenanceof civil rights and liberties. However, reports on civic learning bythe National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), indicated thatthe majority of students in the 12th grade had a very limited knowledgeof government and citizenship in the United States. Furthermore, halfof the students in the 12th grade failed to demonstrate the knowledgeneeded for responsible participation in the political system.
Thus in 1991 there was a clear need to improve the learning of youngAmericans about their responsibilities as citizens in a moderndemocracy. In effect Patrick was advocating a holistic approach to theteaching of citizenship within American schools. That is, young peopleneeded to become actively involved in every aspect of American life.Consequently he provided a list of organisations where materials couldbe obtained in order to aid the delivery of this subject. For example,the American Bar Association which operated a Special Committee onYouth Education for Citizenship, the Constitutional Rights Foundation,Council for the Advancement of Citizenship, the Social ScienceEducation Consortium and so on.
The approach actively promoted by Patrick failed to have the desiredeffect. In 1991 the NAEP reported poor levels of attainment amongst12th graders with regard to citizenship and its related areas. Theresults of the 1998 NAEP civics examination completed by a sample of4th, 8th and 12th grade students across the United States showed thatstudents were not proficient in the skills that enable citizens to usetheir civic knowledge. The NAEP 2001 History Report Card results alsoshowed a similar lack of proficiency.
President Bush launched a number of initiatives in 2003 to improve theawareness of citizenship and associated areas among young peoplethroughout the United States. Some of these initiatives are highlightedbelow:
• Idea of American Essay Contest: High School juniors nationwide areinvited to submit a 1,200 word essay on the “Idea of America” andreceive awards.
• “Heroes of History” Lecture: An annual lecture that features anacclaimed scholar telling the story of a hero in American life. Theselectures are made available to school libraries throughout the UnitedStates.
President Bush participated in Pledge Across America, a nationwidepatriotic observation that invited every school child in America toparticipate in a simultaneous pledge of allegiance at 2pm EasternDaylight Time. The pledge was observed on the 215th anniversary of theUnited States Constitution, the conclusion of the first-ever NationalCivic Participation Week, and the beginning of Constitution Week(Source: http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/edu/fs091702.htm).
2.3 What Can We Learn From The Americans With Regard To Teaching Citizenship?
The analysis of the American experience raises a number ofinteresting points. Notably the American educational authorities viathe National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are activelyengaged in measuring students’ attainment with regard to theirknowledge and understanding of citizenship issues. As noted the resultson the whole have been poor. In the UK citizenship is taught throughoutall of the Key Stages of the National Curriculum.
However, in Key Stages 1 and 2, there is no requirement for the formalassessment of pupils’ knowledge and understanding of citizenship issues(Source:www.dfes.gov.uk/citizenship). Progress in this subject issummarised in each pupil’s annual school report. In Key Stage 3, thereis an end-of-stage assessment. Whilst in Key Stage 4 there is nostatutory requirement for assessment. Three short courses are availablei.e. GCSE Citizenship Studies. The AQA (Assessment and QualificationsAlliance) version of this qualification requires students to undertakea 1.5 hour examination and complete a project.
Should the UK adopt the United States assessment model? It wouldprovide the opportunity to quantify each pupil’s level of knowledge andunderstanding of citizenship issues throughout each Key Stage of theNational Curriculum. Such an approach would provide data which could beanalysed to determine the effectiveness of the teaching and learningstrategies that are currently deployed to deliver citizenship within UKschools. However, such a proposal would be met with stiff resistancefrom a variety of sources (i.e. teachers, parents, educationalistsetc). It is already considered in many quarters that school children inthe UK are already over assessed.
Also it is interesting to note that the American model of citizenshipis radically different from the British version. The informationprovided about the American experience includes such phrases as “Heroesof History”. The British equivalent would mean portraying the likes ofHoratio Nelson and the Duke of Wellington as “heroes”. Thus theAmerican model concentrates heavily on patriotism (e.g. Pledge AcrossAmerica) and herein lays a broader issue. The United States isuniversally criticised throughout the world for being too insular, tooselfish and is not perceived as accepting its global responsibility tothe non-American citizens of the world. The American version ofcitizenship does not seem to recognise the word “global”.
2.4 The Future of Citizenship – Beyond National Boundaries
The European Union has been in existence for nearly 50 years. However,until very recently, education remained untouched by the gradualmovement towards the pan European state. Curricula development andcontent were protected by each member-state. Since the advent of theMaastricht Treaty, the EU has developed and funded a number ofeducational initiatives to promote the concept of a “European superstate”; largely it must be said, without success. The Commission’sattempts to “Europeanise” education remained largely ineffective,mostly confined to the recognition of diplomas, vocational educationand the exchange of language teaching programmes (Soysal, 2001).
However, a closer look at the way “Europe”, “nation” and “citizenship”are being represented in school books and curricula, particularly inthe disciplines of history and civics – reveals another kind of“Europeanisation process” – that is, how European identity is likely toemerge and of significance to this project – how it will be taught inEuropean schools. This process is happening through highly active andinformal networks – largely unmonitored by formal EU institutions.Teachers’ unions and associations, academics and scientific experts,advocacy groups etc – are busy networking, arranging conferences etc –on “teaching Europe”.
Perhaps the most significant development in this process is thedisappearance of the “nation state” – historical events are now retoldwithin a European perspective and a not within a nationalisticstraightjacket. National identities locate their legitimacy in deeplyrooted histories, cultures or territories. But Europe is notpast-oriented: it is future orientated. What does this mean for theteaching of citizenship in schools throughout Europe? It has long beenrecognised that these problems can only be resolved by nations actingas one. This is why the United States receives a lot of criticism, asit constantly failed to sign up to international agreements on carbonemissions etc. Thus the “Europeanisation process” is merely a steppingstone towards the creation of “global citizenship”.
Learning for global citizenship is about understanding the need totackle injustice and inequality, and having the desire and ability towork effectively to do so: this is referred to as Action Competence(Jensen and Schnak, 1994). An example of a resource that provides aframework for learner-centred delivery would be Get Global! This iswhere pupils are involved in every aspect of their own educationalexperience. The Oxford Schools Catalogue contains a wide range ofmaterials published by Oxfam and others, focused on learning for GlobalCitizenship (Source:www.oxfam.org.uk/coolplanet/teachers/catalogue.htm).
2.5 A Brief History of Sex Education in UK Schools
In England from the late 19th century, a number of sex educationpublications were produced, mainly aimed at helping parents toenlighten their children. The Second World War had a huge impact on thepopulation of Europe. Fresh emphasis in sex education was placed onpreventing syphilis and gonorrhoea. In the 1950s and 1960s sexeducation in schools was carried out through the descriptions of thereproductive habits of plants and animals. By the beginning of the1970s, school sex education was beginning to change significantly. Forexample, methods of contraception began to be more widely taught.
The 1980s witnesses further developments in sex education. The rise offeminist-thinking led to an increase in the number of programmes thatencouraged pupils to examine the roles played by men and women. Sexeducation programmes began to have such aims as the acquisition ofskills for decision-making, communicating, personal relationships,parenting and coping strategies. HIV and AIDS became a health issue inthe UK just when sex education became a political football. A number ofsituations arose – the 1985 Gillick case, which focused on whetherparents always have the right to know if their children are beingissued with contraceptives when under the age of 16 – the growingstrength of the lesbian and gay movement, lead to the polarisation ofviews on sex education, among politicians at local and national level.
Thus sex education, as was with citizenship, has become politicallycontroversial. Recent school sex education programmes have variedconsiderably in their aims. At one extreme (rarely found in the UK butwell-funded and widespread in the USA), abstinence education aims toensure that young people do not engage in heavy petting or sexualintercourse before marriage. At the other end of the scale, some sexeducation programmes, challenge sexist and homophobic attitudes(Source: www.open2.net/sundaysurgery/thehistoryp.html).
2.6 Summary Of The Key Factors
In the UK and USA there is a realisation that young people need tobecome actively in all aspects of national life (e.g. politics, localcommunity, environment etc). However, there are major differencesbetween the two countries. The American approach towards citizenship isbased heavily on patriotism. In many respects the current Americanmodel of citizenship seems similar to the one that pertained in the UKin the early part of the 20th century. Despite America’s best effortsto increase young people’s knowledge and understanding of citizenshipconcepts, the NAEP results show no increase in student attainmentbetween 1991 and 2001.
The Americans seem to be ignoring the development of citizenship beyondnational boundaries. In order to solve the world’s problems we need toact as one unified force – hence we all need to embrace “globalcitizenship”. Sex education has moved substantially from its extremelylimited earlier forms to embrace a broader spectrum of sexual andsocial issues (e.g. AIDS/HIV, homosexuality etc). When this is comparedto the American experience, again like citizenship, there are hugedifferences in terms of objectives and content. Many American sexeducation programmes are founded on very conservative moral values.
2.7 Conclusions That Can Be Drawn From The Literature Review In Relation To The Objectives Of The Project
a. To critically evaluate and review the learning andteaching methods which are currently being used to deliver citizenshipand PSHE in order to determine whether pupils are benefiting from thesestrategies.
The literature review has shown that there are major problems inassessing the benefits that young people derive from these subjects.Formal assessment is broken down into two elements – formative (i.e.on-course – an assignment etc) and summative (i.e. end-of-the course –an exam, a completed portfolio etc). In the USA the NAEP results do notshow an increase in students’ knowledge and understanding ofcitizenship concepts. Within the National Curriculum, citizenship andPHSE have a minimum of formal assessment requirements.
However, are formal assessment methods the best way to determinewhether students are benefiting from citizenship and PHSE? The purposeof these subjects is to help young people become better adults e.g. toact and behave in a morally and socially responsible manner etc. Thusit is reasonable to argue that formal assessment methods can onlyprovide a superficial measure of a young person’s knowledge andunderstanding of these concepts. What does measuring a person’s abilityto recall facts actually tell us?
In reality a person will gain from a well delivered citizenship andPHSE programme in the longer term. They will become a more sociallyresponsible person; they will become a more effective parent and so on.Thus teaching these subjects is in effect an act of faith – we hopethat benefits will be produced in the longer term. A longitudinal studyis required i.e. one where a group of students is tracked for a numberof years. However, there are many factors involved when someone turnsout to a good parent etc. It would be extremely hard to isolate theinfluences of citizenship and PHSE from all the other issues that areinvolved e.g. family background etc.
Whilst it is nigh on impossible to assess the long-term benefits peoplegain from these subjects – it is possible to utilise existing learningand teaching methods to generate immediate benefits for the studentsconcerned. How this can be achieved will be analysed in the latterstages of the project.
b. To identify examples of good practice and analyse whether they can be applied elsewhere.
Has the literature review identify examples of good practice withregard to the teaching of citizenship and PHSE? Given the politicalcontroversy these subjects generate – there can only be one answer tothis question. It depends upon your point of view – determining whethersomething is an example of good practice is in the eye of the beholder.The key to progression is to establish and develop a wider audience forthe objectives you are trying to achieve.
For example, the “Europeanisation process” demonstrates how differentorganisations, individuals etc – by working together, can create forumsfor discussion and the dissemination of new ideas, materials etc. TheInternet has revolutionised how people communicate and accessinformation. This allows people and organisations to bypass nationalboundaries and work towards the creation of “global citizenship”.
Thus if they are going to be meaningful and allow young people toconnect and become part of “global citizenship” – the academic contentof citizenship and PHSE must reflect current developments. This meansthat learning and teaching methods must continuously evolve to ensurethat the delivery of these subjects reflects current trends anddevelopments. How this can be achieved will be explored in the latterstages of the project.
c. To analyse how these subjects and theirinterrelationship will develop in the future and determine how learningand teaching methods will need to change in order to satisfy the newrequirements.
A key feature of PHSE is that young people should practice “safe sex”.In its most literal form this simply means making sure that youngpeople have adequate access to and use of contraceptive methods. Insome quarters it would be argued that “safe sex” must involve moral,social and emotional responsibilities. Are these areas PHSE orcitizenship concepts? Whatever your view and political stance there isclearly an overlap between the two subjects. Future curricularinitiatives and the development of learning and teaching methods mustembrace the close interrelationship between these academic areas.
3.1 What Must The Research Methodology Achieve?
In order to fulfil the requirements of the project objectives the research methodology must address the following issues:
a. The analysis of the learning and teaching methods that are beingused to deliver citizenship and PHSE within UK schools in order todetermine their effectiveness.
b. The critical evaluation of the assessment strategies that are used to measure pupil attainment within these subjects.
c. An evaluation of how learning, teaching and assessment strategiesmust develop to ensure that citizenship and PHSE remain relevant to theneeds of young people.
The National Curriculum was introduced in 1988 in order to develop acomprehensive approach to the delivery and development of educationwithin the UK. A number of government departments and agencies areresponsible for managing the content, development, delivery andeffectiveness of the education system. The research methodology mustinvestigate the work of these government departments and agencies inrelation to citizenship and PHSE. This is necessary in order to addressthe issues outlined above. How will this be achieved?
The work of three different bodies must be investigated. These are as follows:
a. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) was establishedwith the purpose of creating opportunity, realising potential andachieving excellent for all. The Qualifications Curriculum Authority(QCA) is a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the DfES. It isresponsible for maintaining and developing the National Curriculum andassociated assessments, tests and examinations; and accredits andmonitors qualifications in colleges and at work. It is thisorganisation which is responsible for managing and developing thecurricular content of citizenship and PHSE and providing guidance onlearning and teaching methods.
b. The Office for Educational Standards (OFSTED) is the inspectoratefor children and learners in England. Its main responsibility is tocontribute to the provision of better education and care. This isachieved through a comprehensive system of inspection and regulationcovering childcare, schools, colleges, children’s services, teachertraining and youth work. Thus it inspects and evaluates the teaching ofcitizenship and PHSE throughout England.
c. The practitioners (i.e. the school managers, teachers, supportworkers etc) are responsible for delivering the curricular content ofcitizenship and PHSE in accordance with the standards and methodsstated and disseminated by the DfES and the QCA.
3.2 What Methods Will The Research Methodology Use?
Secondary research is the investigation of data sources which alreadyexist. The main advantage of using such sources is that they arereadily available and can be utilised to develop knowledge andunderstanding of a given situation. Primary research entails generatinginformation, which did not previously exist. This is necessary whensecondary data sources do not fulfil the information requirements of aresearch project.
In order to investigate the work of the DfES, QCA and OFSTED, it is notnecessary to conduct primary research. This is because of two reasons.One, the government wants the work of these bodies to be transparentand within the public domain. Two, easily accessible secondary datasources will be sufficient to facilitate the objectives of thisproject. As stated, the websites for the DfES, QCA and OFSTED provideaccess to numerous reports and information on all aspects of theiroperations. Therefore, the research method that will be used to analysethis data is documentary analysis. In effect this involves analysingreports and relating the findings to the project objectives.
However, in any given project or area of research different opinionswill prevail. If you like – DfES, QCA and OFSTED – represent thegovernment’s views. What does everybody else think? The practitioners –as listed above – are at the sharp end of the business –
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