Preached, but not practised, by the majority

1st November 1996 at 00:00
In a week that has seen heated debate on morality and discipline in our school system, TES staff report on proposals for offering a framework for good behaviour and citizenship to the nation's children.

While 91 per cent of primary schools have no written policy on citizenship, up to 67 per cent of teachers believe it is very important for pupils' moral, cultural and social education.

These are the findings of the national survey, Citizenship Education in Primary Schools, commissioned by the Institute for Citizenship Studies. The charity, founded four years ago by former House of Commons speaker Lord Weatherill, recommends an agreed definition of citizenship education and guidance on primary schools' responsibility for the subject. The institute received replies from 42 per cent of the 336 state and independent primary schools sent questionnaires.

It defines citizenship education as a concept rather than a separate school subject which develops knowledge, skills and attitudes for making informed decisions and exercising responsibilities and rights in a democratic society.

More than 40 per cent of the respondents were unable to single out individual strategies for teaching citizenship because they treated it as part of the whole-school ethos. One reply said: "I believe citizenship education must underpin the whole curriculum. It cannot possibly be singled out - certainly not at primary level."

Only 1 per cent of schools taught citizenship separately. It was taught by 37 per cent at key stage 1 (40 per cent at key stage 2) through topic work; 49 per cent at KS1 (55 per cent at KS2) taught it as part of personal and social education; and 34 per cent at KS1 (44 per cent at KS2) taught it as several subjects.

Only 9 per cent of primaries had a single written policy. Grant-maintained schools and independent schools were more likely to have a written policy. The institute was set up after Lord Weatherill established an all-party Commission in 1989 "to focus on the kind of society that we are going to leave to our heirs".

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