Citizenship through Secondary History

By James Arthur; Ian Davies et al. | Go to book overview

Guidance makes this clear, as do the admirable OfSTED notes to inspectors (which followed the fall of the Great Cardinal). Flexibility allows variations in concentration to suit the needs of a school's existing coverage and its teachers' talents, specialisms and interests.

The Report which I chaired that led to the order saw this width as of the essence and also knew that teaching would have to be begun (and continue for some time, indeed) by teachers not trained in Citizenship, therefore it explicitly envisaged delivery of parts of the order through other subjects; and this was clearly implicit in the actual order and was explicit again in QCA's Initial Guidance.

History and Geography were mentioned, of course. Geography for a long time has been concerned with political and social issues of environmental policy - local, national and international - and has found that the best way to motivate learning of the necessary facts is to discover and discuss the evidence for the issues. English can make a contribution too, already involved in discussing critically books or plays that raise issues of loyalty, freedom, responsibility, the nature and limits of tolerance, all of which figure in the conceptual base of citizenships. A close reading and discussion of Animal Farm is often the beginning of 'political literacy', and The Lord of the Flies still neatly divides opinion as to whether all power corrupts or whether democratic habits and organisation are appropriate to survival in extreme circumstances. The multiplicity of electoral systems now present in the United Kingdom may have been invented so that Maths teachers can inject a little citizenship, and ask the reason why for each different system (both justification and history, presumably). Even many Science teachers are now either struggling with or seizing the enlivening opportunity to discuss the controversial moral, social and political issues raised by scientific advance - especially now in biology and medicine; and the same issues can confront Citizenship teachers who must discuss 'issues, problems and events'. Co-operation and mutual guidance is plainly called for, indeed is being called for quite happily. Religious Education commonly touches on several specific parts of the new curriculum (quite apart from the general question of 'values' as raised in a comparative approach to religions) - most obviously in KS4: 'That pupils should be taught about: "the origins and implications of the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding".'

In many schools, however, it is teachers of PSHE who find themselves made citizenship coordinator or team leader. Sometimes that person may have been longing for years to be able to teach something like Citizenship (I have met a good few such in my recent wanderings through schools, conferences and training sessions). But more often, I fancy, not; or if so, then wanting to do something far more limited in scope than the new subject order, especially having in mind the third vital strand of political literacy, building on social and moral responsibility and community involvement. A union of PSHE and Citizenship is wholly appropriate to primary school (indeed that is the name of the new Advisory Framework), but it is not appropriate to deliver a full and new National Curriculum subject. There is overlap, certainly, useful overlap; but possibly no wider than for History and Geography. A clear decision on good grounds was made for PSHE to be advisory and Citizenship to be statutory. To put it gently, schools will be in difficulty

-xviii-

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