Young Citizens has strongly welcomed a report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement which has called on the Government to urgently address the decline of citizenship education in schools.  It criticises the Government for allowing citizenship education in England to "degrade to a parlous state".

The report, The Ties that Bind: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in the 21st Century, sets out a range of recommendations to enhance and protect democratic participation and engagement, and to promote integration.  But some of its strongest recommendations concern citizenship education in schools.

Specifically, it calls for a statutory entitlement to citizenship education from primary to the end of secondary education, which should be inspected by Ofsted.  It also calls for Ofsted to undertake a review of the current provision and quality of citizenship education in schools and highlight best practice.

Tom Franklin, Chief Executive of Young Citizens, which gave evidence to the Lords Committee, commented,

"This report pulls no punches about the state of citizenship education in our schools, and the need for urgent Government action.  At a time when our democratic society and institutions are under such threat, it should be a national priority to ensure that every young person leaves school equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be active citizens. Now we need the Government to respond to this report - with actions, not just words.  We support all of the Committee's recommendations for citizenship education."

The Committee's recommendations on citizenship education in schools are:

  • The Government should create a statutory entitlement to citizenship education from primary to the end of secondary education. This should be inspected by Ofsted to ensure the quantity and quality of provision. Ofsted should give consideration to this in deciding whether a school should be rated as Outstanding. 

  • The Government should establish a target of having enough trained citizenship teachers to have a citizenship specialist in every secondary school. 

  • The Government should establish citizenship education as a priority subject for teacher training, and provide bursaries for applicants. Urgent action should be taken to step up programmes of Continuing Professional Development for those willing to take on and lead citizenship education in their school. 

  • The Government should ensure that the National College for Teaching and Leadership allows citizenship teachers to apply to be specialist leaders of education.120 

  • Ofsted should undertake a review of the current provision and quality of citizenship education in schools and highlight best practice. This should be followed up with long term monitoring of whether citizenship education achieves the set of criteria or goals that the Government sets out for it. 

  • The Government should work with exam boards to ensure that citizenship qualifications feature active citizenship projects as a substantial part of the qualification. 

  • The Government should conduct a review of the citizenship curriculum and formulate a new curriculum that includes the Shared Values of British Citizenship, the NCS and active citizenship projects. Piecemeal changes made without reference to the existing curriculum should be avoided. 

  • The Government has allowed citizenship education in England to degrade to a parlous state. The decline of the subject must be addressed in its totality as a matter of urgency.