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Fundamental British Values

In: Social Issues

Submitted By Lewismcguinness
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PGCE - Citizenship

Will the Requirement to Teach Fundamental British Values Have
A Detrimental Effect on the Perception of the Value of Citizenship
Module 2

Word Count – 3696






This essay looks back at the development of citizenship education and Britain’s position as one of the last democratic countries of the western world to introduce the subject into its
National Curriculum. Since its introduction as a statutory subject in 2002 it has been beset by a lack of content, clarity and identity leading to a perception of low status by teachers and pupils alike. The “light touch” implementation by the government of the day has contributed to its lack of standing against other National Curriculum subjects. It is in danger of being perceived as a political “Clothes Horse” for the government to use to promote fundamental British values as a means of countering extremism and radicalisation. This essay contends that the requirement to teach fundamental British values as part of citizenship education will have a detrimental effect on the perception of its value as a statutory subject.




It can be argued that citizenship education as it currently stands, has developed out of the general concept of citizenship from its earliest incarnation.
This paper will look at the history and development of citizenship education and will address the advantages and disadvantages of the teaching of fundamental British values as part of the National Curriculum and in particular as part of the citizenship programmes of study for Key Stages 3 and 4 in secondary schools and will conclude whether this is detrimental to the perception of the value of citizenship education.
Whilst we can’t be certain about when the concept of citizenship began, academics highlight the early States of ancient Greece and in particular, historian, Geoffrey Hosking in his 2005 Modern Scholar lecture suggests that citizenship in ancient Greece arose from an appreciation for the importance of freedom, possibly as a reaction to the fear of slavery.

“It can be argued that this growth of slavery was what made Greeks particularly conscious of the value of freedom. After all, any Greek farmer might fall into debt and therefore might become a slave, at almost any time ... When the Greeks fought together, they fought in order to avoid being enslaved by warfare, to avoid being defeated by those who might take them into slavery. And they also arranged their political institutions so as to remain free men”. (Geoffrey Hosking, 2005 )
Citizenship developed further under the Romans, where it focussed more on rules and laws, with less political participation than in ancient Greece. In the Middle Ages, citizenship developed even further into a concept of membership of nation states.
David Taylor (1994) in his book, Citizenship: Critical Concepts explains that ”During the Renaissance, people transitioned from being subjects of a king or queen to being citizens of a city and later to a nation”. In Citizenship in Ancient and Medieval Cities,
Max Weber (1988) elaborates further, “Each city had its own law, courts, and independent administration. And being a citizen often meant being subject to the city's law in addition to having power in some instances to help choose officials”.
“The modern idea of citizenship still respects the idea of political participation, but it is usually done through "elaborate systems of political representation at a distance" such as representative democracy. Modern citizenship is much more passive; action is delegated to others; citizenship is often a constraint on acting, not an impetus to act. Nevertheless, citizens are usually aware of their obligations to authorities, and are aware that these bonds often limit what they can do”. (Isin,
Engin F.; Bryan S. Turner, eds. (2002). Handbook of Citizenship Studies)
We can see from the research referred to above that citizenship as a concept developed over a long period of time. It is not surprising then that citizenship education is following the same development path.


To answer the question posed by this paper, it is necessary to look back at the history and establishment of citizenship as an educational subject.
John Beck (2012) in his paper, A brief history of citizenship education in England and
Wales, makes the point that there was “very little direct provision of citizenship education in state schools” in Britain which was at odds with other democracies in the Western world. He blames this on the absence of “direct central government control of curriculum content” and “the character of citizenship itself in Britain”. Beck contends that “it is scarcely surprising that Britain has no developed language of citizenship”.
Whilst the language of citizenship remained largely undeveloped, there was an element of political education when looking at British identity. Beck (2012), refers to historian, Linda
Colley’s work (1986; 1996) which highlights the history of attempts, pre the introduction of compulsory elementary schooling in 1870, focussing on the monarchy, the Empire, and
British military history to foster a notion of Britishness.
The development of Britishness and British identity emerged during the period where the language of citizenship or provision of citizenship education was still undeveloped. That is not to say that there was a vacuum in state schools of some form of citizenship studies.
Beck (2012) again highlights some examples of ‘Civics’ texts to encourage active involvement in Civics, for example, Kathleen Gibberd’s Young Citizens: Simple Civics for
Boys and Girls (1935), the formation of the League of Nations and in 1949 and The
Ministry of Education pamphlet, Citizens Growing Up.

‘Political Education – A False Dawn’
In 1970, the Politics Association was formed followed in 1971 by the founding of the journal Teaching Politics, under the co chairmanship of Bernard Crick and Derek Heater.
Together these were the earliest attempts to foster political education in schools in
England and Wales. Heater was aware of a ‘burgeoning of interest’ in political education
(Heater, 1977: 58-78), however Crick subsequently declared it to be ‘a false dawn of the citizenship movement in the curriculum’ (Crick, 2000: 13).

The National Curriculum and Citizenship Education
The 1988 Education Reform Act introduced a National Curriculum in England and Wales which was to be instrumental in the development of citizenship education. Around the same time, concerns over political apathy in the youth of the day led to the formation of a
Commission on Citizenship under the sponsoring eye of the then Speaker of the House,
Bernard Weatherhill MP. Following on from these initiatives, The National Curriculum included Citizenship as a non-statutory ‘Cross-curricular Theme’. Whilst this was a huge step forward for citizenship education it was limited by its non-statutory status and its ability to find a slot in the timetable.



Fast forward ten years to 1997 and the era of new Labour and Tony Blair’s government in which David Blunkett was appointed Secretary of State for Education. The subsequent appointment of Bernard Crick, Political Philosopher with an interest in political literacy as chair of the new cross party Advisory Group on Citizenship (AGC) was in some senses inevitable due to Blunkett’s personal history and academic connection with Crick.
New Labour’s first education White Paper, since coming to power in 1997 was presented to parliament in July 1997. It was titled Excellence in Schools (DfEE, 1997).

“This, the first White Paper of the new Government, is as much about equipping the people of this country for the challenge of the future as it is about the Government's core commitment to equality of opportunity and high standards for all.
Partnership for change means commitment from everyone: from the family and the wider community; from those working in the education service; and from those who support it, often voluntarily. Valuing our teachers and celebrating success go hand in hand with raising expectations and then acting to fulfil them.” (Foreword by the Secretary of State, DfEE, 1997)
David Blunkett had clearly bought into Crick’s notion of political literacy from his early lectures at Sheffield University and it is perhaps from these that Blunkett develops his long standing interest in citizenship as a subject. In his book, Politics and Progress: Renewing
Democracy and a Civil Society (2001) written partly in response to the very low voter turnout for the 2001 general election, he suggests how to renew and strengthen democratic politics. He argues that “government must retain democratic legitimacy, that prosperity must be balanced with social fairness and quality of life” (Blunkett 2001). He also makes reference to his intentions for citizenship education in the book and how this could have an impact on voter apathy.
The Advisory Group on Citizenship (AGC) was established to “provide advice on effective education for citizenship in schools” and published its final report in September
1988, ‘Education for Citizenship and the Teaching of Democracy in Schools’ to be referred to later as the Crick Report, recommending that citizenship education take its place as a statutory subject of the National Curriculum. (QCA, 1982: 22).
Citizenship as a subject, was finally introduced in 2002 as a statutory Foundation Subject in secondary schools, with Crick declaring that Citizenship was ‘a subject at last’, bringing an end to Britain’s position as one of the last western democratic countries to include citizenship education in its state schools.
Crick’s desire to “steer” the work of the AGC was expressed in some of his publications on the specific work of the AGC (Crick, 2000a, 2000b, 3003), highlighting the thinking behind the various aims, interests and recommendations. Independent research was also carried out by Jessica Pykett (Pykett, 2007) and Diana Kirwan (Kirwan, 2008), through direct questioning of members of the AGC. Jerome (2012) has reviewed the research and outlines some observations which paved the way for citizenship education:



A political opportunity was presented by Blunkett’s appointment as Secretary of State for education – he was known to have some sympathy for citizenship education.
Concern about perceived political apathy, reflected in low turnout at elections.
A more general disengagement from politics, especially among young people.
Growing discussion of issues around citizenship, especially in relation to immigration and asylum. (Jerome, 2012 England’s Citizenship Education Experiment, State,
School and Student Perspectives.)

The original Citizenship programmes of study for Citizenship key stages 3 – 4 (QCA,
1999) followed the guidance of the Advisory Group, setting out suggestions for content but stopping short of mandating them. This enabled schools to interpret the programmes of study to suit their school ethos, characteristics and strengths. This approach countered any arguments of government interference or political bias in what was a politically charged topic.
The programme of study set out a clear purpose of study and citizenship aims for all pupils, covering “knowledge, skills and understanding” in preparation for their active involvement in society. (QCA, 1999). The aims of the curriculum were to ensure all pupils had an understanding of the workings of government in the UK, the political systems, the role of law and the justice system how to actively participate in democratic governments.
Pupils were also to be given the skills to think critically and to debate politically.

Time to Take Stock
The first Ofsted review following the introduction of citizenship into the National
Curriculum in 2002; Towards consensus: Citizenship in secondary schools, HMI (2006), looked at evidence from whole-school, inspections and focused subject inspections.
“Significant progress has been made in implementing National Curriculum citizenship in many secondary schools. However, there is not yet a strong consensus about the aims of citizenship education or about how to incorporate it into the curriculum. In a quarter of schools surveyed, provision is still inadequate, reflecting weak leadership and lack of specialist teaching.” (HMI, 2006)
The report highlighted the results from their inspections, citing a number of reasons for their findings from, “embraced it with enthusiasm” to some having “done very little” and some believing “mistakenly, that they are ‘doing it already’”.
Ofsted had made some earlier comments in its 2004/05 Annual Report, stating;
“In this context, the story of the development of citizenship so far is one of qualified success. It remains the case that it is less well established in the curriculum than other subjects, and less well taught: indeed, some critics have seized on this as a reason for wanting to step back. However, the progress made to date suggests that the reasons for introducing citizenship are both worthwhile and can be fulfilled, given the time and resources.” (Ofsted, 2005)


The inspections finding also highlighted how schools adopted different methods of including citizenship in their curriculum timetable. Some schools included it within
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), others spreading it across the entire curriculum, whilst others adopted the drop down day approach where normal timetables were suspended for a day to make space for citizenship lessons. However, those judged the most successful were those schools which had taught the subject in discrete lessons and had a specific place in the timetable. (HMI, 2006).
Some of the key findings from the first of the Ofsted inspections paint an interesting picture of the shortcomings of the “light touch” approach to the introduction of the subject into the curriculum.
“The intentions for citizenship education remain contested and are sometimes misunderstood; however, the period of implementation has established important principles and fostered good practice which can inform future curricular revision.”
“Aspects of the knowledge and understanding are treated lightly or not at all in some schools; the three strands of the subject and their interrelationship and some aspects of the programme of study have often been misunderstood.”
“Citizenship makes particular demands on teachers, some of whom are illequipped due to inadequate specialist subject knowledge and lack of training.”
(Ofsted, 2006: 2)
In summarising the key findings of the inspections, the Ofsted report posed the following questions: “There is plenty to argue about in citizenship. Why was it introduced, really? Is it about good behaviour or asking awkward questions? Can the ambition of citizenship education be fulfilled? Did the National Curriculum get it right? Why have many schools been slow to develop strong models of provision for citizenship?
Is the infrastructure yet in place? What has been Ofsted’s role in all of this?”
(Ofsted, 2006)
Perhaps the brevity and lack of depth in the Citizenship programmes of study for 11 -16 year old contributed to the schools’ slow development of “strong models of provision for citizenship”. Crick’s answer to this was to “read the programme of study alongside the
Crick report” (Crick, 2002c: 500) Crick saw the ‘bare bones’ style as a benefit to the schools, where they were unconstrained but he also acknowledge the thorny subject of government involvement in dictating political education.
It is not so hard to imagine that non specialist teachers required to teach citizenship, would not pour over the finer details of the Crick report and quite likely not even to review the programmes of study.

There are a number of studies and research available which look at the early years of development and implementation of citizenship in schools. The government funded the
National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to conduct an eight year longitudinal study which contributed to this body of work. The first NFER report in 2003 observed: ___________________________________________________________________________________


“While the majority of teachers (74 per cent) claimed to understand the aims and purposes of citizenship education, over one third (38 per cent) were uncertain about the detail of the new curriculum that would be introduced in September 2002.
There was limited familiarity with the key citizenship curriculum documents, such as the Curriculum Order and Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) schemes of work, and little or no familiarity with the key policy texts, notably the
Crick Report and Post – 16 report…..College leaders and tutors were even more uncertain about the content of, and background to, the citizenship curriculum.”
(Kerr et al; 2003: viii).
We can see that teachers were clearly struggling to understand the rationale and fundamental nature of citizenship education. There was also a lack of understanding of the three strands of citizenship as postulated by Crick; ‘enquiry and communication’,
‘participation’ and ‘responsible action’. This was highlighted in one of the earliest Ofsted reports from 2005:
“The implementation of citizenship as a national curriculum subject has been beset by problems of definition. Issues around the subject title itself have been discussed above. Within the programme of study, too, there is much that is taken out of context or misunderstood…..” (Ofsted, 2005a).

Is Citizenship Perceived as a Legitimate Curriculum Subject?
This lack of clarity has resulted in the introduction of this new subject into the curriculum being problematic both in terms of what it is and how to teach it. Hayward and Jerome sum up the situation:
“…it does seem that the introduction of the National Curriculum for citizenship created a situation in which many teachers felt they were left stumbling around in the dark, occasionally led further astray by QCA and Ofsted, before eventually being reined in.” (Hayward and Jerome, 2010)
Citizenship’s relationship to other curriculum subjects is an issue which has been the subject of focus from Hayward and Jerome. They point out Crick’s acknowledgement that citizenship “.. content can be taught through other subjects” (Crick 2000,10) but in doing so point out the weakness in the subjects classification and boundaries with other subjects.
(Hayward and Jerome, 2010).
It is not surprising therefore that the subject struggles to achieve a distinct identity as a robust subject worthy of its place on the National Curriculum.
The concept of subject identity is not expressly considered in the Crick report and indeed citizenship as a distinct subject is also left out. We can see why some teachers and pupils for that matter might have perceived citizenship as less than a legitimate subject.
The Advisory Group on Citizenship did consider feedback from consultation groups. Here there were views expressed about concerns over subject status and opposing concerns over precious curriculum time and the inclusion of another separate subject. (Advisory Group on Citizenship, 1998: 73-7).


The Crick report did allude to potential problems such as “rivalry with other subjects; absorption into PSHE; lack of status among teachers, parents and pupils; problems establishing a foothold in the timetable.” and yet failing to address them and instead having faith that teachers would delivery what was required.
New Labour and in particular David Blunkett’s drive to introduce citizenship into the
National Curriculum as a statutory subject to address concerns over political apathy in the youth of the day has contributed to the negative perception surrounding the subject. The overtly political agenda linked closely to the citizenship curriculum has also given the impression of political interference. This however is not new, there has been previous school guidance on preventing extremism which declared:
“In addition to the severe threat posed by Al Qaida- influenced groups, dissident
Irish republican terrorist groups who oppose the Northern Ireland peace process still pose a threat to British interests.” (Learning together to be safe, DCSF, p12)
Kerr et al, also pointed to the lack of specialist teachers, lack of formal assessment and no clear identity as a stand-alone subject leading to “low status in the eyes of students.” (Kerr et al, 2007)
In the early years, the lack of specialist teachers in citizenship has resulted in other teachers being required to teach subject matter outside their specialisation, which has caused them to form unenthusiastic views about the value of the subject. However, more recently, there has been an in increase in the number of student teachers applying to study for a PGCE in citizenship. This could be the start of the tide turning.
The Latest Political Initiative
From the 1st July 2015, all schools are subject to a duty under section 26 of the CounterTerrorism and Security Act 2015, in the exercise of their functions, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. This duty is known as the
Prevent duty. The duty is intended to help schools think about what they can do to protect children from the risk of radicalisation. Schools are required to build pupils’ resilience to radicalisation by promoting fundamental British values, enabling them to challenge extremist views.
The promotion of fundamental British values through the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils is now established in schools. Personal, Social and Health
Education (PSHE) helps pupils to develop positive character traits such as resilience, determination, self-esteem and confidence enabling them to recognise and manage risk and also develop effective ways of resisting pressures.

The government’s definition of fundamental British values has been problematic for schools to teach as discrete values specific to Britain. Values such as democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs are not solely British values.
The link between fundamental British values and citizenship highlights again the fluidity of the subject and its identity and boundaries. Teachers, pupils and staff see the link between another political initiative linked to Counter-Terrorism and Security and not


focussed on the educational development of children. For non-specialist teachers this will be seen as another change of focus and contribute to the perception of muddled content and throw more light on the current perception of citizenship having a low status in the curriculum. Conclusion
The introduction of citizenship into the National Curriculum as a statutory subject has been a long and difficult journey. Tony Blair’s appointment of David Blunkett as
Education Secretary was pivotal in the setting up of the Advisory Group on Citizenship under the chairmanship of Bernard Crick.
However, the lack of substance in terms of subject content within the programmes of study and the lack of specialist citizenship teachers made for a hesitant starts. The “light touch” approach favoured by Crick to avoid any backlash from opponents, parents and the media also contributed to the lack of enthusiasm by schools and teachers and the lack of status afforded to the subject.
The plethora of research papers and documents dedicated to the topic of citizenship education and the political context from which is was born is testimony to the uncertain definition of the subject as a whole. There are questions raised over education policy and what type of citizenship was being put forward and how that was influenced by political decisions and desires of the government.
This year’s Prevent Strategy and the requirement to promote fundamental British values in schools as a means of countering extremism and risks of radicalisation can be seen as yet another government initiative forced on schools as an experiment in societal manipulation in the same way that Blunkett and Crick fought the battle for citizenship as a means of improving political literacy and political disengagement by the youth of the day.
Citizenship as a statutory subject should be given time to bed down and work through schools with a clear identity of what its purpose and aims are in terms of educating for more informed citizens.
I believe the term fundamental British values causes concern amongst teachers as they struggle to see the distinction between decent human values and British values and the impact this has on citizenship as a subject, which will ultimately affect their teaching of the subject to its detriment.




Arthur James; Cremin Hilary, eds. (2012). Debates in Citizenship Education. Chapter 1 –
John Beck – A brief history of citizenship education in England and Wales; Routledge.

Blunkett, D (2001) Politics and Progress: Renewing Democracy and Civil Society
(London, Politico’s Publishing)

Colley, L. (1986) ‘Whose nation? Class and national consciousness in Britain 1750 –
1830’, Past and Present, 11, 3, pp. 115-27; (1996) Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1937.
London; Vintage.

Crick, B (2000a) Essays on Citizenship. London: Continuum. pp 75-111

Crick, B (2000b) Introduction to the new curriculum, in D. Lawton, J. Cairns and R
Gardner (eds) Education for Citizenship (London, Continuum).

Crick, B (2003) The English citizenship order 1999: context, content and presuppositions, in A. Lockyer, B Crick and J Annette (eds) education for Democratic Citizenship: Issues of Theory and Practice (Aldershot, Ashgate).

DfEE (1997) (Department for Education and Employment) Excellence in Schools (Cmnd.
3681) London, HMSO

Gibberd, K. (1935) Young Citizens: Simple Civics for Boys and Girls. London: J.M. Dent.

Heater, D (1977) Essays on Political Education. Ringmer: Falmer Press. pp 58-78

HMI (2006) Towards Consensus: Citizenship in secondary schools, HMI 2666. Available at

Hosking, Geoffrey (2005). Epochs of European Civilization: Antiquity to Renaissance.
Lecture 3: Ancient Greece. United Kingdom: The Modern Scholar via Recorded Books. pp. 1, 2 (tracks). ISBN 1-4025-8360-5.


Isin, Engin F.; Bryan S. Turner, eds. (2002). Handbook of Citizenship Studies. Chapter 5 - David Burchell -- Ancient Citizenship and its Inheritors; Chapter 6 -- Rogers M. Smith -Modern Citizenship. London: Sage. pp. 89–104, 105. ISBN 0-7619-6858-X.

Jerome, L (2012) England’s Citizenship Education Experiment, state, School and Student
Perspectives; Bloomsbury. pp 64-65

Learning together to be safe, DCSF, p12

Taylor, David (1994). Bryan Turner; Peter Hamilton, eds.Citizenship: Critical Concepts.
United States and Canada: Routledge. pp. 476 pages total; ISBN 0-415-07036-8.

QCA (1998) Education for Citizenship and the teaching of democracy in schools (Crick
Report) London, QCA.

Weber, Max (1998).Citizenship in Ancient and Medieval Cities. Chapter 3. Minneapolis,
MN: The University of Minnesota. pp 43–49. ISBN 0-8166-2880-7.

The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools 2004/05 (ISBN
0102935459), Ofsted, 2005


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To What Extent Should Curzon Be Seen as a Failure

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How Can Managers Turn Cultural Diversity to Their Advantage?

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Changing the Culture at British Airways

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