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25 July, 2011

Citizenship likely to feel the impact of tighter league tables

Last week the Department for Education announced its plan for how the English Baccalaureate (EBac) and other league tables will judge school results in England. It excludes GCSE citizenship.

The ‘statement of intent’ discounts all qualifications that are less than GCSE (short courses, for example) and excludes GCSE Citizenship from recognition as a rigorous humanities qualification.

They want to encourage schools to take ‘rigorous’ academic subjects, end ‘so-called equivalence’ between qualifications and get more students to do ‘challenging’ subjects that will be more likely to get them into a good university.

The Citizenship Foundation is naturally concerned about these developments. We will be working with others in the Democratic Life coalition to press our points on the DfE in due course. The points we will wish to make are:

  • What is the purported evidence that Citizenship GCSE is less academically rigorous than other humanities subjects?
  • Where does the Russell Group of Universities state that they recognise some subjects to be more demanding than others?
  • To what extent is the EBac designed to change the options behaviour of schools and candidates? Is this consistent with increasing freedom and creativity in the education system?

We firmly believe that Citizenship GCSE provides unique opportunities for students to grapple with challenging political, economic and social ideas, strengthening their understanding through having practical experience of public issues, through access to public institutions, and taking part in debate, advocacy and representation.

We remind the DfE that the longitudinal research from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has shown these experiences in Citizenship to be contributors to better academic performance in other subjects, as well as better behaviour and social integration.

We as a Foundation, working with our partners in thousands of schools and Academies, will continue to advocate the benefits of citizenship education for all pupils.


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