Citizenship Education in England and Wales: Theoretical Critique and Practical Considerations

Nov. 27, 2008

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 14, Nos. 5–6, October–December 2008, 481–496

This article presents a theoretical critique of citizenship education in England and Wales, as a means of raising pedagogical considerations for teachers, and policy issues for curriculum makers and planners. Drawing on a range of recent empirical studies, the authors construct an analysis of practice and suggest that differences between dominant models of citizenship in England and Wales owe much to their histories. They suggest that such differences create opportunities for new curriculum-making practices as well as democratic possibilities in the context of citizenship education, at a time when curricula in both England and Wales are under revision.

Considering school councils/forums as an exemplar of practice common to both contexts, the authors question the wisdom of schools employing a narrow conception of active citizenship, via forums, in order to demonstrate they are satisfying the relevant requirements of the Order for Citizenship in England, and aspects of the Personal and Social Education curriculum in Wales. While the exemplars are both from the UK context the arguments apply beyond these borders and to more general concerns regarding the development of global citizenship. For instance, the authors suggest that part of the way forward is for teachers and schools to extend their pedagogical gaze beyond the confines of the domestic curriculum. Seeking opportunities for international collaborations between schools, for example, which are of mutual benefit to the home school and international partner, might enable each to learn from the others’ experience and in the process extend the concept and practice of citizenship towards global considerations, in the process crossing geographical borders and institutional barriers.

Updated: Feb. 17, 2009