In the context of separating behaviour and attitudes from personal development, Ofsted’s new education inspection framework gives added emphasis to areas of the curriculum that may not always have been a priority for schools.

Here at B11, we have a strong belief that subjects such as citizenship and PSHE are vital to a full and engaging curriculum. As such, this week we spoke with Madeleine Fitzpatrick, Subject Leader for Citizenship/PSHE at Falinge Park High School in Rochdale, as we continue with our informative blog series.

In the first of two blogs featuring Madeleine, she began by discussing the subject of citizenship: “Our aim in citizenship is to empower; empower students to feel they have a legitimate stake in society, empower them to succinctly express their opinions and empower them to become active, engaged citizens. Citizenship is not about creating a model citizen, but a citizen who questions, take responsibility and engages in debates. We aim to create critical students who question the information they are given and who will be intrinsically motivated to take informed action to create a change.”

Outlining things to consider when devising intent in a citizenship curriculum, she added: “Our main aim was to consider where do our students fit in? Citizenship involves the study of power, democracy, equity and justice, but how do you explain these concepts to students? Introducing them to the main concepts of citizenship in order to lay a foundation and build on them is incredibly important. We then needed our Key Stage 3 curriculum to set a foundation, not just for a GCSE but also for them to engage in democratic life. We believe citizenship is a subject with real impact. For instance, if we give students several opportunities to vote in school, whether that be in a mock general election or student council election, they are more likely to vote in a general election when older. Another consideration is the experiential learning we can give to students through mock elections and mock courts, bringing the subject alive. Could our curriculum give students the experience of taking informed action? Whether it be a letter to a local councillor or running a local campaign against knife crime, this is truly where the subject comes alive. The ever-changing political climate is a consideration in citizenship, so we usually discuss how our lessons, written in September of this year, already feel out of date. Either the Prime Minister has changed or laws regarding equality have.”

Madeleine concluded by explaining what she feels a quality curriculum in her subject should look like: “Citizenship should be topical, sometimes controversial, but most importantly interactive. A quality curriculum should reflect this. It should be built to inform and encourage students to engage in discussion and debate of the issues. We allow students to build their understanding of our main ideas of democracy, justice, advocacy and representation. We also introduce students to these on different levels, building from contexts such as school democracy to national and even global democracy. Failure to do this could alienate students from the big ideas. I believe in a strong narrative in the curriculum, were we move from local to global contexts, building on the students’ knowledge and allowing the systems to become more complex. The knowledge should then be complemented by the skills we want pupils to advocate for themselves and others. We want students to engage in critical enquiry and to take informed action. A quality curriculum should be responsive to their learning and the society around them. You will know when the citizenship curriculum is successful when students automatically question and passionately debate with one another then ask, how can we change this?”

Later this week, we will share Madeleine’s thoughts on Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and the part it plays in Falinge Park High School’s curriculum.


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