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Journeys to Citizenship Education: four case studies

Whole school policies • Active Citizenship • Research

Journeys to Citizenship Education: four case studies

This summary report has been produced by the Association for Citizenship Teaching and Middlesex University as part of the research and evaluation of the Active Citizenship in Schools programme that is running from 2021-25. The programme offers a strategic approach to embed social action and active citizenship within the school curriculum. It aims to identify models and practices that ensure pupils engage in and benefit from citizenship education in a sustained and impactful way.

ACT commissioned these four case studies as a way to capture some of the professional wisdom from schools around the country. Case studies in education are valuable for a number of reasons, but primarily because they detail the kind of practices and decision-making that often go undocumented. These case studies have been produced at the beginning of a four year project to collect examples of practice from around the country. They record some of the ways in which Citizenship has been adapted within four different contexts to achieve subtly different purposes. 

Different contexts have different approaches

The schools described in the following pages take a broad view of the curriculum and include examples of explicit timetabled Citizenship lessons that ensure a core provision for all students. Several also take different approaches to connecting Citizenship and other subjects. Whilst Altrincham Girls Grammar School and Leeds City Academy have taken the approach of combining Citizenship with PSHE (including careers and RSE), Brockhill and Priory Schools have explored the subject’s relationship with RE, and these case studies illustrate how the nature of that pairing focuses on different points of connection and emphasis.

The differences between the case studies illustrates how such connections have to move beyond simply ‘mapping’ the content, and they show some of the creative and innovative outcomes that emerge by thinking more deeply about the way these subject combinations work to focus on core concepts, values, and attitudes.

The case studies illustrate how interpreting and embedding Citizenship in different school contexts requires teachers to work on:

  • The vision and ‘big picture’ for Citizenship and how this resonates with the school ethos and aims
  • Models of the curriculum that work in their context, given resources, staffing and organisational constraints
  • Building effective teams to deliver often complex curriculum plans
  • Relationships with students that include mechanisms for feedback and responsive planning
  • Accessing wider networks to secure support from other specialists.

Beyond downloading the Journeys to Citizenship Education report on this page, you may also be interested to read the Effective Teaching for Active Citizenship: A systematic evidence review for subject leaders, and the The Impact of Citizenship Education: a review of evidence for school leaders.

Download Journeys to Citizenship Education