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Evaluating Youth Social Action – Interim report
Behavioural Insights Team, in partnership with the Cabinet Office, 2015
Can you really measure the value of young people taking part in social action? This report provides compelling and robust evidence that young people who take part in social action initiatives develop some of the most critical skills for employment and adulthood in the process.
Young Citizens Make a Difference Challenge was chosen by the Cabinet Office to participate in this piece of research. It was found to be very effective in increasing empathy levels, problem-solving, grit and community skills. Children who took part shared, on average, a level of empathy 6% greater than those who didn’t. These children were also adept in problem-solving, and showed a level of grit significantly above that of the children who did not participate. Similarly the level of community investment was considerably higher. The trial also found that those who took part in the project have a more positive outlook; stating that things in life are worthwhile more often than their peers, and also reported lower levels of anxiety (a decrease of 22%).
UK Youth Perspectives and Priorities for Brexit Negotiations
London School of Economics and Political Science
Young Citizens collaborated with The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on a youth Brexit research project, to better understand the priorities for young British people with regards to Brexit. The research report identified that they felt the Government is not doing enough in its Brexit negotiations to ensure equality, social justice and shared economic prosperity both in the UK and for Britain’s relationships abroad. They also felt that young people’s views were not adequately listened to in the debates, or that they were provided with the political education and information needed in order to take a full part in the discussions.
CELS: The Citizenship Educational Longitudinal Study - 2001-2010
National Foundation for Educational Research
From 2001-10, the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study, run by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and funded by the Department for Education, what invaluable in assessing the quality and impact of citizenship education, and helping to raise standards. There is currently no national evaluation study, and this makes it extremely difficult to support schools to improve provision. The findings of the longitudinal study had shown that where citizenship education was taught regularly and consistently from a young age through to 18, planned by coordinators trained in Citizenship, taught by specialist teachers, and included planned assessment, whether through GCSE or another means, it had the greatest impact on young peoples’ confidence, engagement with local issues, future voting behaviour, and future participation in their community.
House of Lords Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement
In 2017, the House of Lords established a Select Committee to consider Citizenship and Civic Engagement in the 21st Century. During the latter half of 2017, the Committee took evidence from a broad range of organisations, including Young Citizens. The Committee is due to publish its report in 2018.
‘The Crick Report’: Education for citizenship and the teaching of democracy in schools
Advisory Group on Citizenship, 1998
It is twenty years since Professor Bernard Crick and his Advisory Group issued its final report into the teaching of citizenship in schools. The report set out a series of recommendations for introducing the National Curriculum subject, which were then adopted by the Government
The Right to Justice
Bach Commission, 2017
In 2017, the Bach Commission, with the support of the Fabian Society, produced its final report into access to the legal justice system. The report strongly favoured Public Legal Education, and in particular the importance of teaching young people about the legal system.
Our strategic plan to 2027, 'Empowering Young People for a Stronger Society'.
Ten year strategic plan
Our Annual Reports and Accounts for the last three years
Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18
Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17
Annual Report and Accounts 2015/16
She works part time as a senior stakeholder manager for Govia Thameslink Railway and as the Chief Operating Officer of ISS Magazine, Head of Trading and Transaction Banker news websites on their operation, marketing and design needs.
Faz previously worked as Political adviser to the Chair and Chief Executive at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and served as Director of corporate and government relations at the Commission for Racial Equality.
In 2008, the Power List named her one of the twenty most powerful Muslim women in the UK.
She handled CRE’s relations with Government and Parliament in the aftermath of the 9/11 and 7 July attacks, was a member of the Defeating Extremism Together Task Group and advised Government on relations with Muslim communities.
She served as a senior Political Adviser to the former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair between 1994 and 2000.
She has been a Vice-President at JP Morgan Investment Bank, where she headed up their media relations for the EMEA region. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Runnymede Trust and the Cedar Network for Professional Muslims.
Farzana holds a BA in sociology from Stirling and is a Fellow of the RSA. She joined the Board in 2013.
This team co-ordinates the work of Young Citizens so that we're focused on increasing the number of young people we help to be active citizens.
Tom has been CEO since 2016. He was previously CEO at Think Global, the global citizenship charity. Tom was a young councillor in his 20s, and it was this experience which inspires him especially to help empower young people to take leadership roles in their communities.
E: [email protected]
T: 020 7566 4141 (switchboard)
Yvonne oversees the development of our programmes and resources, including lesson plans, mock trials competitions, student conferences and our social action programmes. She is also our Designated Safeguarding Lead.
E: [email protected]
T: 020 7566 4151
Ray manages the overall operations of the charity – including our finances, governance, ICT, performance management, HR and premises. He basically keeps things (and us all) on track.
T: 020 7566 4141
Richard has been with us for over a decade overseeing the development of programmes in schools and building bespoke partnerships with corporates. He also leads on our communications strategy so we can expand our reach and depth of engagement to benefit even more young people.
T: 020 7566 4152
James is the Founder/Director of Young Voices Heard, an initiative established in 2017 to enable greater youth participation in decision-making and democracy. Prior to this he was the Chief Executive of the British Youth Council 2008-2016, which also manages the UK Youth Parliament, working in partnership with national and local government across the UK.
His interest in empowering young people as active citizens has developed from a career spanning youth work, juvenile justice and social work (qualified Social Worker/Probation Officer). This progressed to training, management and international development, working for several national charities including the National Children’s Bureau and the Prince’s Trust.
He is strong advocate of youth volunteering and mentoring, and currently volunteers for the #iwill youth social action campaign and the Royal Commonwealth Society. He is an Ambassador of the British Citizens Awards.
Born in Northern Ireland, educated at Durham/Southampton universities, but now living in Kent, James likes music, flying, travelling and tweeting @JamesCatChats.
He joined the Board in 2018.
This team delivers our wide range of programmes, resources and training events - ranging from our Mock Trials, to our Social Action Programmes, to providing teaching resources for teachers.
David Kerr, Consultant Director of Education
David advises us on citizenship curriculum issues, and takes the lead in much of our European and overseas work. He is Head of Initial Teacher Training at Reading University. He has a huge amount of experience in citizenship education, and was co-leader of the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study.
Ted Huddleston, Consultant in Civic and Citizenship Education
Ted is an international consultant in citizenship and human rights education. He has published widely in the field, both in the UK and abroad. A Council of Europe ‘expert’ for many years, he has experience of professional training and consultancy in a range of countries in Europe and the Middle East.
E: [email protected]
T: 0207 566 4141
Naomi Kennedy, Education Manager
Naomi leads on the production of all our resources – ranging from SMSC lesson plans, to materials about the law and young people, to special resources on topics like Brexit or elections – for both primary and secondary schools.
T: 0207 566 4158
Victoria Quijada, SMSC Quality Mark Manager
Victoria manages the SMSC Quality Mark, which helps schools improve the quality of their SMSC provision. She also provides advice and guidance to schools around SMSC.
Ruth Le Breton, Programmes Manager
Ruth has worked with us for around a decade and manages our Go-Givers programme for KS1 and KS2 pupils. Ruth also supports the delivery of our teacher training and the Make a Difference Challenge for primary school pupils
T: 020 7566 4137
Nicole Atilio , Programmes Administrator
Nicole oversees our Mock Trials Competitions for secondary schools, which give thousands of young people each year a unique opportunity to experience the legal justice system.
T: 020 7566 4154
Akasa Pradhan , Programmes Coordinator
Akasa co-ordinates our Mock Trials Competitions, for secondary school pupils, working alongside the wonderful magistrates and legal professionals who volunteer their time to make our competitions possible. She also develops our programme of student workshops.
T: 020 7566 4142
Kieran Burch, Programmes Administrator
Kieran supports the whole of the Programmes and Learning team, making sure that the many events we coordinate each year go smoothly, whilst also helping people with bookings.
T: 020 7566 4155
Stella Baynes, Programmes Manager
Social Action Programme Manager, coordinating our recently launched online Make a Difference Challenge programme which provides a framework for primary practitioners to deliver social action in schools. Previously she set up the Democracy Ambassadors programme which supported young people aged 13 – 16 to talk to their peers about the importance of, and their role within, our democracy.
E: [email protected]
Thomas Kelly, Project Administrator
Thomas is our Programmes and Learning Administrative Apprentice, supporting Make a Difference Challenge, SMCS Quality Mark and Go-Givers programmes by providing admin support, taking bookings and answering queries from schools.
T: 020 7566 1501
This team develops our strategic partnerships – including with corporates, other charities and the public sector. The team leads on the development of our Experts in Schools programmes.
Therri Tait, Partnerships Manager
Therri oversees our partnerships programmes, including developing our Experts in Schools to reach more schools and expert volunteers. She is always open to exploring ways in which Young Citizens can compliment your organisations. More recently she developed our student Brexit conferences.
T: 020 7566 5035
Mathilde Fell, Partnerships Coordinator
Mathilde works closely with our corporate partners to broker education programmes in schools. She has a passion for interventions that support better education outcomes for young people and ensuring first class service to our valued partners.
T: 020 7566 5038
Stine Holm Christiansen, Partnerships Executive
Stine joined the team having previously worked in the charity sector in Denmark and more recently providing administration support at an investment firm. She is supporting operations and project delivery across the Partnership Team's broad portfolio of work.
This team makes sure that those who need to know about our work most - teachers, youth workers, and the media, for example - get to do so. It also handles sales and bookings for our projects.
Leah Hardy, Digital Marketing Executive
Leah looks after our social media - persuading people to write posts for our blog, and regularly posting on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram about our work. Make her happy, by following us and joining in the conversation!
Tara McCarthy, Sales Executive
Tara looks after our sales, particularly to schools. She'll sign you up, remind you when you need to renew...and gently nudge you to pay (well, we are a charity!).
T: 020 7566 5036
Rachel Drayton, Digital Projects Coordinator
Rachel keeps our CRM in great shape - which is the engine behind much of our campaigning, communications and programmes.
T: 0207 566 4130
Maggie Gaynor, Communications and Marketing Intern
Maggie joint the team in May 2019 as part of her study abroad programme with the SUNY Oswego (State University of New York), where she is studying Public Relations and Creative Writing with Marketing and Communications. She will be supporting our digital work by providing updates to websites and our print marketing.
This team helps to keep things running smoothly - things like governance, HR, IT, premises, finance and so on.
Valentina Graham, HR Coordinator
Valentina looks after all aspects of the human resources - if you apply for a job at Young Citizens, it's likely that Valentina will be involved.
T: 020 7566 4145
Our 2027 ambition: More than half of UK schools will be using our programmes and materials each year.
We’ll seek both grant funding and contributions from schools to help pay for this work – demonstrating to schools how it is good value for money to access high-quality citizenship programmes that pupils need.
Our 2027 ambition: 200,000 children and young people will be taking part in our practical citizenship experiences each year.
Among many other initiatives we will:
Our governing document
Memorandum and Articles of Association
A consideration of the issues surrounding the teaching of controversial issues serves only to underline the importance of good citizenship education from an early age.
If children become accustomed to discussing their differences in a rational way in the primary years, they are more likely to accept it as normal in their adolescence.
Citizenship education helps to equip young people to deal with situations of conflict and controversy knowledgeably and tolerantly. It helps to equip them to understand the consequences of their actions, and those of the adults around them.
Pupils learn how to recognize bias, evaluate argument, weigh evidence, look for alternative interpretations, viewpoints and sources of evidence – to give good reasons for the things they say and do, and to expect good reasons to be given by others.
Young people are citizens too. They have a right to hold opinions on matters of public policy, and a right to make their opinions heard. They are perfectly free to go on political demonstrations or take part in campaigns as long as it is in their own free time.
Public action during school hours is a different matter.
Schools cannot condone pupil participation in public demonstrations outside school during school hours, however worthy the cause or just the motive. Head teachers simply do not have the power to authorise such absences, whether or not parents give their permission.
Parents have a legal duty to ensure attendance of their school-age children at school (unless they have legitimately withdrawn them from the school system) and schools have a legal duty of care for their students. The duty of care carries on if a student is absent with the implicit or explicit permission of the school.
So if anything happens to a student in these circumstances, the school could be responsible. Permitting absences for protest action, and certainly facilitating them, could also be in breach of the law forbidding the promotion of partisan views in school.
Where pupils leave school without permission, schools are perfectly entitled to impose sanctions. They should also inform pupils' parents as a matter of course.
Sanctions do need to be proportionate, however. In deciding the appropriate sanctions to impose on a student who walks out of school to take part in political protest, the school may wish to take account of the motivation of the student involved – was it an act of conscience, or was it done for some other reason? It is also important that, where possible, pupils (and parents) are made aware in advance of what they are letting themselves in for by leaving school without authorisation. Only then are they in a position to make an informed moral judgement about taking the 'law' into their own hands and assess the legal and other consequences of doing so.
Campaigning within school is slightly different.
Section 406 of the Education Act 1996 forbids the pursuit of partisan political activities by pupils under the age of 12 while in school. Pupils over the age of 12 are allowed to organise and take part in voluntary political activities in school with certain provisos. Walking out of lessons cannot be condoned, for example. This is a kind of 'internal truancy' and seriously compromises the duty of care laid on the school. Teachers also need to take care that they are not in breach of the law forbidding the promotion of partisan views in school.
Where these provisos are met, however, there is no good reason why young people should not be allowed – or even encouraged – to participate in the political process themselves on the school premises.
Commentators sometimes complain about the apparent apathy of young people about politics. Where pupils do feel strongly about issues, therefore, that strength of feeling should be harnessed to educational advantage, through the analysis of media reports, role play or reflective discussion.
Some teachers may feel pressure from their head teacher or school governors not to be seen supporting partisan views outside school, by leafleting or going on marches, for example. School managers have no right to exert this kind of pressure on teachers.
Teachers are citizens too. They have a right to hold opinions on matters of public policy, and a right to have their opinions heard. They are perfectly free to go on political demonstrations or take part in campaigns as long as it is in their spare time.
Teacher action during contracted time is a different matter.
As has already been noted, the promotion of partisan political views within school is against the law. This may include the wearing of anti- (or pro-) war badges, and is likely to include encouraging pupils to take part (or not take part) in externally organised demonstrations. The impact of the recent Human Rights Act in this area has not been tested. The prohibition on promoting partisan political views will have to be balanced against the right of freedom of expression.
Teachers who, regardless of the law, feel they have a moral obligation to promote their personal views in school must be prepared to take the consequences. Where someone finds the moral stance they take on an issue is incompatible with their obligations as a teacher, they may wish to consider resignation. In any case, such a state of affairs could lead to disciplinary action.
Just as it is important for teachers to distinguish their role as private citizens from their role as public educators, so it is important for them to distinguish between private and public values.
There are many different communities in society, each with its own set of values. But a distinction is to be made between 'non-public' communities, membership of which is voluntary, and the larger 'public' or 'civic' community, to which all citizens belong simply by virtue of common citizenship.
The civic community has its own set of values. The form these take differs from society to society. The kind of values that characterise a pluralist democracy, such as ours, include: social justice; political equality; tolerance; human rights; respect for the rule of law; and a commitment to negotiation and debate as the ideal way of resolving public conflict.
This difference allows a distinction to be made between the values that may legitimately be taught in schools - indeed, which schools have a duty to teach - and those that are more properly the province of the home, particular interests groups and religious or political parties.
Thus, although teachers have no legal right to promote their own personal opinions in school, they may quite legitimately condemn and prohibit injustices which contravene our community values, such as racism and human rights abuse - wherever they take place.
The very nature of controversial issues means that people hold strong opinions about them. In this respect, teachers are no different from other citizens.
There is always a risk of bias, whether unwitting or otherwise, creeping into teaching and discussions with pupils. What counts as bias? How can it be avoided? What sort of influence is legitimate, and what sort is illegitimate, for teachers to exercise over their pupils?
To begin with, it is important for teachers to distinguish their role as private citizens from their role as public educators. Teachers are forbidden by law from promoting partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in schools.
Section 407 of the Education Act 1996 requires school governing bodies, head teachers and local education authorities to take all reasonably practical steps to ensure that, where political or controversial issues (such as UK military interventions) are brought to pupils' attention, they 'are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views'.
In practice, this means:
It also means teachers seeking to avoid unintentional bias by:
In cases of international conflict, teachers should be aware that the range of opinion is often far wider than that which is represented in the western media. Wherever possible, it is important to make pupils aware of the sorts of views and arguments that are found in non-western media as well.
Similarly, teachers should resist the inclination to promote attitudes that apparently reflect prevailing public opinion to the detriment of minority views. Where public opinion on an issue is particularly vocal, this can be difficult to achieve.
Nevertheless, it is not the job of the teacher to side with majority opinion, but to subject all views to rational criticism.
At times of public conflict and controversy, such as following a terrorist attack, schools will naturally want to respond to the fears and concerns of their pupils. This raises questions like:
To a certain extent, opportunities to respond already exist in the school curriculum. The citizenship curriculum includes teaching on legal and human rights, questions of identity, government, conflict resolution, the significance of the media in society and the role of organisations such as the EU and UN. Controversial issues arise in other subjects, too, such as the concept of the 'just war' and jihad in RE.
These provide excellent opportunities for pupils to explore current conflicts and controversies in greater depth. They can help pupils to access factual information from a range of sources, and become more aware of the types of argument that characterise alternative viewpoints.
Capitalising on existing curriculum opportunities to address current issues will not always be the answer, however.
For one thing, it means having to adjust schemes of work at short notice, with very little time to locate or develop appropriate teaching resources.
For another, it only applies to certain pupils – those in a particular year or key stage. Also, at times of crisis, it may not go far enough to address the emotional needs of the school population. It is important to remember that talk can be cathartic in itself. There will be occasions, therefore, where schools might need to provide opportunities for pupils to express their fears and concerns, such as through circle time, assemblies or discussions promoted on a whole school basis.
Some school settings provide greater challenges than others for the discussion of controversial issues – especially, where pupils come from communities that are themselves in conflict, or have family links with parties involved in conflict.
In such cases, schools may be the only forums where pupils are able to encounter a balance of views in a safe environment. Schools need to be able to defend this provision against accusations that they are undermining parental or community views. All positions should be able to be discussed, and it does young people no favours to shield them from views they are likely to encounter in society. Developing the capacity to talk with those of opposing views can be the best way of avoiding situations of conflict from escalating into violence.
Clearly, then, there is a range of responses a school might adopt. What is appropriate is likely to vary from school to school, and from situation to situation. The sort of key questions a school will need to address in determining its approach include:
The conflicts and controversies of adult life can leave young people feeling confused. Why are these things happening? Where do they stand on the issues? Where ought they to stand?
It can also leave them feeling fearful and concerned. This is especially so in cases where violence – potential or actual – is involved, and where members of their family and community are directly or indirectly affected.
In other cases, young people may feel so strongly about an issue that they wish to take some form of action. How can they make their voice heard? What forms of political action are open to young people? How far should they go? What support, if any, can they expect from their school?
Many schools actively endorse pupil participation in school and community issues – letters to MPs, discussions with local councillors, etc. How far does this support extend?
Not all young people react to events in the same way, of course. They can be as divided over an issue as adults. How do they cope when peers express strong views diametrically opposed to their own?