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National Curriculum

Citizenship and the national curriculum aims

Citizenship has a distinctive contribution to make to the aims of the national curriculum. The citizenship programme of study provides opportunities to plan sequences of work, learning outcomes and teaching approaches that develop:

Successful learners

Citizenship develops successful learners who are equipped to play a full part in public life and in the democratic process. Citizenship gives learners the ability to engage critically with challenging questions facing society today and to take action on political and social issues of concern.

The aim of developing successful learners who are literate, numerate, enterprising and enquiring is at the heart of citizenship. Students consider complex problems and interrogate evidence about real issues. Students learn to speak out for themselves and others on issues and problems using their research to support their point of view. Learners work independently and collaboratively to plan and undertake action to try to make a difference in their communities and in society.

Learners develop understanding of the key concepts of democracy and justice as they question and reflect on what may be fair and reasonable in different situations, explore the likely impact of decisions, and consider how the rights and responsibilities of individuals and groups are effected. Through in-depth research and enquiry, learners develop analytical and evaluative skills to ensure that their arguments are informed, clear and coherent. Students demonstrate toleration of different views, including those with which they may not agree, and they develop understanding of how different views are formed and influenced.

Confident individuals

A central purpose of citizenship is to develop understanding of the ways in which citizens can participate in decisions that shape the communities in which they live. The citizenship programmes of study provide a range of opportunities to develop learners who have the confidence to participate. Students are encouraged to think and act for themselves, and to relate to and work with others. They build an understanding of their own identities and begin to appreciate that identities are both complex and changing within our diverse society.

Citizenship provides an environment for students to explore and express their ideas and opinions and to challenge those with which they do not agree. Learners have opportunities to present to and communicate with real audiences, both in school and in the wider community. Students engage with and listen to others as they consider different viewpoints, actions, decisions, values and beliefs. By recognising and debating different ideas and issues, students learn to respond with confidence, develop logical arguments and justify viewpoints with evidence.

Regular participation in group discussions and in community-based action develops students’ confidence in dealing with a range of real and complex issues and problems. Students work in groups and teams, trying out different courses of action and ideas to address issues or to achieve agreed objectives. Students take collective responsibility for completing projects, and they reflect on their activities in order to improve the quality of their work. Citizenship, then, helps to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of both life and work.

Responsible citizens

Citizenship inspires students to think about their role in society and in the wider world, and about how their decisions and actions can make a difference. Students engage with a wide range of political, social and ethical dilemmas that affect individuals, communities and the environment. Learners think about issues in new and critical ways and are willing to challenge ideas, policies, behaviours and actions with which they disagree. Students gain a sense of empowerment and achievement by participating in activities where they:

  • try to make a difference to the lives of others
  • contribute to real decision-making
  • are involved in bringing about change to policy or practice.

Taking part in individual and collective actions engenders in students a sense of responsibility for themselves and for others. Students research issues affecting local, national and global communities. They explore challenging questions about the use of world resources, sustainability, inequalities, human rights and international conflict. Learners develop an understanding of the world as an interconnected and interdependent place. Students consider what is fair and reasonable, discriminatory or unjust, and learn about cultures and ideas that are different from their own. These activities develop students’ understanding of what it means to be an informed, active, responsible citizen.

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