ACT Principles for effective citizenship education
The principles below form the basis of the standards we use to judge the quality of resources submitted for the ACT Quality Mark for Citizenship Teaching Resources.
To establish the conditions in which to develop outstanding teaching and learning in citizenship, the following key principles need to be considered.
Principle 1. Consider the contexts and backgrounds of all pupils and any issues that will be particularly sensitive or controversial for them.
Principle 2. Establish what pupils know, understand and can do and use information about pupils to plan rigorous and challenging citizenship teaching and learning that meets national policy requirements and is appropriate in pitch and challenge for pupils. (National requirements for citizenship are the non-statutory national framework for citizenship at key stages 1 and 2; the National Curriculum programmes of study for citizenship at key stages 3 and 4 and/or; the requirements of the GCSE or A level in Citizenship Studies). Some aspects of citizenship can be planned for and taught alongside other curriculum subjects. However the quality mark will assess the citizenship aspects of the resource and not any other subject work that is included.
Principle 3. Focus teaching and learning on developing pupils' understanding of citizenship concepts and use and application of citizenship skills, as these are the essential foundations of high quality citizenship education. Citizenship concepts include democracy, government, law, justice, rights and responsibilities, participation, community, equality, identities, diversity. Citizenship skills include critical thinking and researching, enquiry, tacking controversial issues, oracy, discussion and debate, advocacy, influencing, campaigning and other forms of citizenship action, collaboration and teamwork, problem solving and critical reflection.
Principle 4. Use a range of types of teaching and learning activities that promote deep learning in relation to citizenship concepts and skills. These should include different types of written work included extended writing; different types of oral work including informal discussion and formal debates; and a range of opportunities for pupils to participate with others in active citizenship. Active citizenship involves taking forward planned courses of informed and responsible action within the school and wider community aimed at making a contribution to democratic and public life.
Principle 5. Make use of topical and controversial issues and debates to bring citizenship teaching to life in a safe and secure learning environment. This involves developing skills to explore, discuss, critically evaluate citizenship issues and debates from different viewpoints.
Principle 6. Provide opportunities for pupils to take part in individual and group work, both in and beyond the classroom, where appropriate with members of the local and wider community.
Principle 7. Look for appropriate opportunities to make connections between citizenship and other curriculum subjects and wider curriculum activities and be sure to establish clear citizenship objectives and outcomes where such connections are made.
Principle 8. Set high expectations in citizenship with clear learning intentions and success criteria, as the basis of good teacher assessment.
Principle 9. Create a range of ways to recognise, celebrate and share pupils’ achievements within the school, with parents and the wider community.