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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, with 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 citizenship education was a way for him to get his opinions across.

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


Media contact
Emma Doyle at the Citizenship Foundation, tel: 020 7566 4134 or email emma.doyle@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk.

Notes to Editors
*The Citizenship Foundation's research in citizenship education in pupil referral units was conducted between June 2008 and September 2009. The two main methods of data collection were questionnaires and interviews. Sixty establishments are represented in the sample, which is 13 per cent of the PRUs that accommodate secondary aged children in England. More details about the report are available on request.


Andy Thornton, Citizenship Foundation (Chief Executive)

Baroness Joan Walmsley

Caroline Lanskey, Researcher

Damian Hinds MP

David Amess MP

Don Rowe, Citizenship Foundation (PRU Project Team)

Emma Doyle, Citizenship Foundation (Press Officer)

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)

About the Citizenship Foundation
The Citizenship Foundation is an independent education and participation charity (no 801360) that aims to encourage and enable individuals to engage in democratic society. Founded in 1989, our particular focus is on developing young people's citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding of the law, democracy and public life. We do this by championing civic participation, supporting teachers and schools with the delivery of citizenship education and by working with young people in community-settings on issues that concern them. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

Citizenship Education in pupil referral units
As part of its on-going work addressing the citizenship education of marginalised young people, the Citizenship Foundation developed Citizenship Challenge, a range of citizenship teaching materials for use with young people in pupil referral units (PRUs) in 2006. Following a new grant from the Wates Foundation, a full evaluation and trialling of these resources took place in 2009 and the new updated resources are now close to completion.

In addition to this work, the project has examined the state of citizenship education in PRUs. The outcome of the round table discussion will inform the recommendations made in the final report of the project, which will be published at the end of 2010 and seeks to influence the policy agenda concerning the role and significance of citizenship education in PRUs.

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The Citizenship Foundation registered charity no 801360.



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