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Citizenship National Curriculum - guidance for schools

ACT developed a range of guidance materials to support the revised National Curriculum which took effect in 2014. This includes a vision for developing outstanding Citizenship as part of a broad and balanced curriculum in your school, presented in the powerpoint 'A Big Picture for Outstanding Citizenship Education'.

Below is an outline of the 'Big Picture' with links to the guidance materials. All the materials are also available in our resources section. Some of the resources are free. However you do need to be a member of ACT to see all the materials below.

1. What are we trying to achieve?

Preparing pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and challenges of life and work.

  • DfE overarching curriculum aims - DFE published a revised set of aims that set out what the whole curriculum should provide. Citizenship is key to achieving these aims
  • Citizenship subject aims - these are described in the revised Programmes of Study for key stages 3 and 4 and highlight what the subject is for and what pupils can expect to learn.

Citizenship also makes a unique contribution to the development of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC) and this is explored in our curriculum briefing Citizenship and SMSC.

You may like our handy diagram to explore 'What is Citizenship?' 

2. How do we organise learning?

The school curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils. The national curriculum forms one part of the school curriculum. 

Our 'Topic Guides' help you get started with the revised NC 2014 and include suggested teaching and learning activities and links to helpful resources:

Curriculum briefings on 'Citizenship and SMSC ' and on 'Assessment and Progression in Citizenship' are also available, as well as Topical Issues briefings on Europe, the European Union and the UK and The Scottish referendum and future of the UK.

When planning citizenship provision it is important to consider:

  • Curriculum, culture, community - how citizenship contributes to the curriculum, school culture and ethos and to relationships with the wider community or the '3 C's'
  • Learning approaches - how to engage pupils in regular lessons and activities within and beyond the classroom that include opportunities for active citizenship
  • Whole Curriculum - the essential contribution Citizenship makes to social, moral, spiritual and cultural development
  • Statutory PoS Citizenship Requirements - how to ensure the curriculum provided addresses the statutory teaching requirements including knowledge, concepts, skills & experiences
  • GCSE Citizenship Studies content - when preparing students for GCSE how to address additional content, skills and required participation in active citizenship projects.

See our Guidance and Explanatory notes on the revised Programmes of Study for Citizenship to help you consider the curriculum changes and plan your Citizenship provision to address the new requirements.

To help you plan outstanding Citizenship lessons or review your current teaching, use our lesson planning and observation tool.


3. How well are we achieving our aims?

To make learning and teaching more effective so that learners understand quality and how to improve we need

  • Assessment that is fit for purpose
  • Accountability measures to secure - attainment & achievement, behaviour & attendance, civic & democratic participation, social cohesion, further involvement in education, employment & training

Guidance on 'Assessment and Progression in Citizenship' has been developed by the DFE Citizenship Expert Group and ACT.

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