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28 October, 2010

MPs discuss citizenship education in pupil referral units

On 27 October, education and participation charity, the Citizenship Foundation, held a round table event to discuss the need for citizenship education in pupil referral units (PRUs). MPs, teachers and representatives from other interested organisations (full list below) attended the event, held at Portcullis House in Westminster.

The Citizenship Foundation shared the findings of its research, which found that citizenship is widely regarded as a vital part of the curriculum in PRUs, and that it is extremely relevant to young people who have reduced access to their rights. Following this Caroline Lendon, from the University of Cambridge, gave an overview of research on the potential of citizenship education as a vehicle for inclusion for young people in PRUS who are likely to have experienced several forms of exclusion. She said that citizenship education is a ‘valuable opportunity that doesn't exist elsewhere [in the curriculum].'

Three teachers from different PRUs in Ilford, Thurrock and Dudley also discussed the importance of the subject in their settings. Holly Whiteley from Thurrock PRU in Essex which has up to 48 students said, ‘Citizenship is a fantastic tool to bring the world to them...covering areas such as the general election and the role of MPs and Parliament.' Holly talked about one of her students who had said that it was a chance for him to get his opinions across.

After the presentations there was a general discussion about citizenship education in PRUs and particularly assessment of citizenship education. The group noted that accreditation is important to ensure that students and teachers place the same priority on it as other subjects.

The Citizenship Foundation is in the process of developing accredited AQA units as a means of assessment. These units would offer a flexible and small unit structure and a positive way for young people to achieve accreditation for their work.

One of the other major topics discussed was the use of mainstream Ofsted criteria in PRUs. The teachers around the table noted that it was very difficult to work within these expectations in their sector. The Education Select Committee is currently reviewing the role and performance of Ofsted, and MPS asked for the teachers to submit their experiences in writing to be considered as part of this assessment.

The findings from the round table will inform the Citizenship Foundations final report that will be launched before the end of the year along with the new Citizenship Challenge resources.

For more details about the research or the Citizenship Challenge resources, please contact Julie Nakhimoff.


Andy Thornton, Chief Executive, Citizenship Foundation

Baroness Joan Walmsley

Caroline Lanskey, Researcher

Damian Hinds MP

David Amess MP

Don Rowe, Citizenship Foundation (PRU Project Team)

Emma Doyle, Citizenship Foundation (Press & PR)

Emma-Jane Watchorn, PES

Helen Treadway, John Barker Centre

Holly Whiteley, Thurrock PRU

Ian Mearns MP

Jane Freeman, Abberley St Pupil Referral Unit

Lauren Higgs, Children and Young People Now

Julie Nakhimoff, Citizenship Foundation (PRU Project Manager)

Nic Dakin MP

Pat Glass MP

Will Ross, New Regent's College (PRU Project Team)

To find out more please email:

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