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3 July, 2003

Schools must get to grips with Citizenship says Ofsted

Despite wide support for the Citizenship curriculum, many schools need to do more to ensure its effective planning and implementation, according to school inspectors.

Despite wide support for the Citizenship curriculum, many schools need to do more to ensure its effective planning and implementation, according to school inspectors.

Of the 25 schools inspected for a new report - National Curriculum citizenship: planning and implementation 200203 - over half did not understand the full implications of Citizenship as a National Curriculum subject.

Only in one in five schools is the Citizenship curriculum well developed, say inspectors. In the majority of cases it has been set mainly within existing Personal, Social and Health Education PSHE programmes. This arrangement, they say, is generally proving unsatisfactory.

The report found that, in most schools, fundamental questions about the nature and purpose of Citizenship have not been given due consideration.

'Schools should look again at the constituent parts of National Curriculum citizenship,' says the report, 'establishing a clear definition that recognises what is new and distinctive and distinguishes it from PSHE and other subjects.'

Implementation appears most effective when given a strong lead from senior management. However, many schools have not done enough to incorporate Citizenship development into policy and planning, despite two years' notice before it became statutory in September 2002.

'There is a wide consensus in schools, in Parliament and the wider community that Citizenship is a positive addition to the National Curriculum,' said David Bell, Chief Inspector of Ofsted.

'While this support was generally evident in the schools we visited, some are not clear about the aims of this subject and its place in the curriculum. As a result, many schools have not planned and implemented the introduction of this subject as well as they might have.'

He was encouraged to find examples of good practice in such a small sample and so early on, but that the report identified 'issues that must be addressed if schools are to meet National Curriculum requirements while equipping their pupils to play an active part in our democracy and community.'

The report advises schools to address the issue of properly recognizing and understanding the aims of Citizenship, to be clear about ways in which Citizenship is distinct from PSHE and other subjects, to address issues of assessment and reporting, and to ensure that standards of teaching and learning are as high as in Citizenship as in other subjects.

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