EDU03 - Developing a characterization of citizenship education in England and in other contexts

Submitting Institution

University of York

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education

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Summary of the impact

Research by Davies and others at York has clarified the views and understandings of stakeholders of `citizenship' in the context of citizenship education, and developed the case for an approach that has a strong conceptual core (inspired by political literacy and incorporating influences that emphasise communities and identities at local, national and global levels) and which is contemporary, public, participative, and reflective. Through UK and international networking and community building exercises this characterization of citizenship education has impacted on: curriculum policy discussions; classroom practice through the development of teaching materials; teacher educators including initial and in-service teacher education; and the work of professional organisations concerned with citizenship education in schools and beyond.

Underpinning research

Context: Research led by Davies showed a gap between the ways in which citizenship was characterized in the academic literature and in the ways teachers thought about citizenship education and how they worked professionally to develop it. Davies and others at the University of York (UoY) argued that citizenship education is concerned with contemporary society and public contexts, requiring an integrated approach to substantive and procedural concepts, and having a clear focus on understanding and practising reflective participation. This characterization may seem unremarkable until one considers the existing (declining) lack of clarity and excessively broad interpretation that has often been associated with citizenship education (including those who see `citizen' as indistinguishable from `person', with a vague sense of the need to promote `good' citizenship).

Researchers: All research was led by Davies (Lecturer 1989-99, Senior Lecturer 1999-2005, Reader 2005-08, Professor 2008-present). UoY research collaborators include: Mary Bousted (1993-1998); Martin Cloonan (1994-98); Ian Gregory (1971-2008); Professor Stephen Gorard (2004-07); Dr Gillian Hampden-Thompson (2008-present); Dr Sylvia Hogarth (2001-2009); Dr John Issitt, (2002-present); Dr Nicolas McGuinn (1998-2010); Paula Mountford (2005-present); Dr. Vanita Sundaram (2006-present); and, Dr. Maria Tsouroufli (2010-2012). In addition, Professor Mark Evans (University of Toronto), former PhD student, at UoY (graduation 2005) was supervised by Davies.

Research: In 1994 Davies (reference 1) argued, based on empirical data gathered from a sample of 20 policy professionals and academic experts, that the authors of the version of the National Curriculum in place in the early 1990s neglected to promote professional forms of political learning (`political education') and instead, they replaced them with the cross-curricular theme of education for citizenship. This approach was biased towards the reduced educational approach of simply encouraging young people to act as volunteers. Davies, Gregory and Riley (1999) (reference 2), explored teachers' characterizations of citizenship and citizenship education. This study collected questionnaire and interview data of the views of 719 teachers in England about citizenship and citizenship education. It was part of a five-nation study (the full results of which were published by Hong Kong University press in a 2005) book edited by Fouts (Seattle Pacific University, USA) and Lee (Hong Kong Institute of Education). A series of research and publications by staff based at UoY (Bousted, Cloonan, Davies, Hampden-Thompson, Hogarth, Mountford, Sundaram) explored teachers' characterizations of models of citizenship learning in a range of contexts including work on political literacy, assessment of citizenship in initial teacher education and teachers' and young people's understandings of citizenship and community. Davies also undertook several related international comparative studies consisting, for example, of 80 teacher interviews in England and Hungary (Davies et al. 2004) (reference 3). The result of this research work found that teachers' understandings largely emphasised being considerate to those others with whom one spends time and neglected the more critical and globally oriented conceptions discussed by academics. Further research suggested that there were gaps in relevant characterizations between professionals within schools who were concerned variously with whole school and curricular matters and gaps between those professionals and young people. The fundamental argument put forward by Davies and others (and published on the citizED web pages as the `citizED statement on citizenship education, was for an approach to citizenship that developed and emphasized rights and responsibilities, government and democracy, identities and communities at local, national and global levels. This approach to citizenship education was directly connected to the research and publications of Davies and others. Davies, Evans and Reid (2005) (reference 4) in a think piece identified key distinctions between citizenship and global education. Davies, Gorard and McGuinn (2005) (reference 5) similarly differentiated citizenship and character education. An empirical study by Davies et al (2004) explored the differences between citizenship and enterprise education and other work on science (Davies 2004), history (Arthur et al 2001), assessment (Davies et al. 2007), community (Davies & Evans 2002; Davies et al 2009; Davies et al 2012) and textbooks (Davies & Issit 2005, reference 6), helped develop the emerging characterization of citizenship education. Programmes of teacher education in citizenship education were also analysed leading to suggestions about how they may be improved through a clear conceptual base and the promotion of reflective practice.

References to the research

1. Davies, I.(1994).Whatever happened to political education? Educational Review, 46(1),29-37. DOI: 10.1080/0013191940460104


2. Davies, I., Gregory, I., & Riley, S.C. (1999).Good citizenship and educational provision. London, Falmer Press. (Available on request).

3. Davies, I., Fülöp, M., Hutchings, M., Ross, A., & Berkics, M.(2004).Citizenship and enterprise: Issues from an investigation of teachers' perceptions in England and Hungary, Comparative Education,40(3),363-385. DOI: 10.1080/0305006042000274845


4. Davies, I., Evans, M., & Reid, A. (2005).Globalising Citizenship Education? A critique of 'global education' and 'citizenship education'. British Journal of Educational Studies, 53 (1),66-89. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8527.2005.00284.x


5. Davies, I., Gorard, S., & McGuinn, N. (2005).Citizenship education and character education: similarities and contrasts. British Journal of Educational Studies, 53(3),341-358. URL:


6. Davies, I., & Issitt, J.(2005). Reflections on citizenship education in Australia, Canada and England. Comparative Education,41(4),389-410. DOI: 10.1080/03050060500300915


All articles were published in international, peer reviewed, high impact journals; the book (Davies et al 1999) was published by the leading academic education publisher. Reference 2 was recognised, in an anonymous reviewer's report to the publisher, to be the first empirical study on citizenship education.

Grants: Institute for Citizenship and Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd £26.5k (2 linked projects 2002-3 and 2003-5); Teacher Training Agency/ Training and Development Agency for Schools TTA/TDA £1.3m (£151k direct to York) 2002-6; Citizenship Foundation/Esmée Fairbairn £12k 2001-2; Department for Education and Employment £20k (2000-1); European Commission and Canadian government £109k 2002-5; British Council £4350 (2001-3); Esmée Fairbairn Foundation £97k 2010-13.

Details of the impact

The focus of the impact is in the achievement of clarity and the development of consensus around an evolved form of citizenship education implemented in England and elsewhere. Impact was achieved in several contexts.

Impact on Policy Makers: Professor Sir Bernard Crick invited Davies to develop guidance for teachers, including teaching materials, around the characterization of citizenship education emerging from the research referred to above. Those papers were presented at meetings for teachers and teacher trainers in Canada (Ontario History and Social Studies Teachers association), Japanese Educational Research for the Social Studies (JERASS), London and elsewhere. Davies was invited to join the UK-based Citizen 2000 group that offered papers to policy makers and was a member of the government's Citizenship and Teacher Training Group. Cabinet minister Liam Byrne at the 2008 citizED Cambridge conference affirmed the importance of the work on citizenship education. Davies is a member of Democratic Life (an organisation that helped promote the case for the retention of citizenship in the National Curriculum). Democratic Life, when making the case for citizenship education, was able to draw on research by Davies and others at York. Kerr, a key member of the Crick committee, cites continuing influence on policy nationally ("the research you [Davies] have conducted has helped to inform the [successful] case for the retention of citizenship as a statutory National Curriculum". Kerr witnessed explicit reference to that research, during the review period, in meetings with Michael Gove, Michael Wilshaw, in the Five Nations Network, Council of Europe and beyond Europe (United Nations, UNESCO, International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement). Further evidence of European impact on policy is evidenced by Davies' appointment by the Council of Europe as an expert of education for democratic citizenship (EDC) for the Pestalozzi programme (2006-08). The nature of EDC is clearly congruent with the characterization promoted by Davies (on the basis of understanding developed through work with the Council of Europe in Germany (Berlin), France (Strasbourg), Slovenia (Ljubljana) and Norway (Oslo)). Further evidence for on-going impact on policy includes presentations by Davies at the Japanese ministry for education (MEXT). Professor Ikeno (Hiroshima University) has cited Davies' influence on policy for regional initiatives and also on the revision of the Japanese National Curriculum for social studies from 2008.

Impact on Teachers, Trainee Teachers and Classroom Practice: Many of the citizED classroom resources on the citizED web pages are based directly on the research undertaken by Davies and written by him. Peterson writes: "The student teachers (and indeed their school based mentors) ...used the practical resources extensively, implementing them within schools". The same is true of many of the activities for professionals and young people created and used because of the Democracy through Citizenship project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd. Bernie Flanagan (project director of Democracy through Citizenship) states that Davies' work helped in the establishment of various initiatives including a web site for young people; the development of the York Youth Forum; the promotion of locality events in which schools enabled young people to influence policy; the development of school councils (available to 50 schools); and in the promotion of the influence of young people on the Children and Young People's Plan. The evaluation of the Esmée Fairbairn funded `political literacy project' (by Davies) influenced the creation of teaching materials that were published commercially (Huddleston 2004) and were still available during the review period. Davies has written textbooks based on his research including 100+ ideas for teaching citizenship. London, Continuum. This is the 2nd edition (2011) of a book first published in 2005. It provides practical, research-based guidance for teachers who are encouraged to develop a particular approach to citizenship education. The book has international impact (e.g. it has been translated into Malay during the review period). Kerr states that Davies' research helps in "anchoring the understanding and practice of student teachers and practising teachers in relation to citizenship education". Peterson states that Davies' research has impacted positively on "classroom practice through the development and use of classroom resources". The Children's identity and Citizenship in Europe (CiCe) network (approximately 100 higher education institutions across almost all European countries and funded by the EU) — and its subscription based partner CiCeA — uses in its many working groups, conferences and publications continues to use the characterization of citizenship education promoted by Davies and others and indicates the impact on international capacity building. Ross has written: "Davies' work has been widely used by teacher educators across Europe and is particularly well regarded by teacher educators in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan where his perceptions are widely communicated to student teachers".

Impact on Teacher Trainers: The CitizED organisation (which Davies helped to set up and of which he is currently Deputy Director) is a major vehicle for developing internationally academic clarity and influencing a professional consensus and disseminating research findings and ideas, in a form that led to direct impact on practices and professional thinking. Davies' research led directly to the development work with citizED funded by the Teacher Training Agency (TTA)/Teacher Development Agency (TDA). CitizED created extensively used web pages immediately accessed by people in over 40 countries), which make available reports from 67 workshops and conferences. These events brought together teacher trainers in England with researchers (including an Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre) project), policy makers and community-based workers from around the world (UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, USA). Using ideas from the research of Davies and others, papers, which continue to be widely used, were written by and for trainees (62 papers), teacher mentors (5 papers), and tutors (157 papers) on citizenship and how to teach it in Initial Teacher Training (ITT), Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and in schools. Liam Gearon was appointed by the funder (TTA/TDA) to assess the CitizED Project and he wrote that "The CitizED Project ... is a major innovation in citizenship education which has provided strong leadership in the field of curriculum development... and research in teacher education in England. It is a beacon of good practice throughout the United Kingdom and internationally.... [It has been of] greatest service to the community of initial teacher education and training through the network of PGCE and other postgraduate courses in citizenship (either as an individual course of training, or combined with another subject, or on advanced Master's level courses)" (source Gearon, p.24).

There are a large number of resources available for teacher trainers on the citizEd web pages ( These resources are used within teacher education programmes and by teachers. Peterson states that "the citizED network has underpinned the work of all teacher educators for citizenship education in the UK (and indeed elsewhere in the world)... In particular the Tutor Induction Packs written by Professor Davies were utilised to help support colleagues new to citizenship education". Professor Ikeno (Japan) has written of 3 new courses since 2009 for secondary teachers in Hiroshima University that are influenced by Davies' research. Davies was founding (and current) editor of the journal Citizenship Teaching and Learning. Gearon recognised it as an "excellent resource for practitioners, researchers and practitioner-researchers" (source Gearon, p. 16).

Impact on Subject and Other Associations. Impact has been achieved on subject and other associations to promote a particular characterization of citizenship education. The Society for Educational Studies, of which Davies is Secretary, established the engagED project to explore and promote citizenship and community links. Davies has impacted on the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT). ACT's Professional Officer, Waller, writes that research "undertaken by York has directly impacted on the work of ACT in supporting new teaching activities ... specifically this [research] has helped ACT develop new resources for National Citizens Service on community engagement". Kerr (as Director of Education, Citizenship Foundation) states that Davies' research influences "decisions as to what areas development work should focus on". CiCeA has awarded Davies its Outstanding Achievement Award for 2013. Impact on international associations is seen on the influence on the British Council (e.g. projects in Russia that led to the production of 15 booklets for teacher trainers and teachers; involvement in the Migrant Integration Policy Index III initiative concerning citizenship and migration across many countries). Involvement with the Japan Association for Social Studies (JASS) in the development of conferences and papers that were distributed to teachers provides further evidence of influence on opinion formers in other countries.

Sources to corroborate the impact

For Impact on Policy Makers, Teachers, Trainee Teachers and Classroom Practice, and subject and other associations:

  • David Kerr, Visiting Professor of Citizenship, Birkbeck College, University of London, Senior Teaching Fellow (Citizenship), University of Bristol, Consultant Director of Education, Citizenship Foundation (UK).

For Impact on Policy Makers and Teacher Trainers:

  • Professor Norio Ikeno, Ph D., Professor of Graduate School of Education, Hiroshima University and President of JERASS, Japanese Educational Research for the Social Studies.

For Impact on Teachers, Trainee Teachers and Classroom Practice:

  • Bernie Flanagan, Strategy and Commissioning Manager and former Director of the Democracy through Citizenship project (funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd and managed by the Institute for Citizenship).

For Impact on Teacher Trainers:

  • Report titled "A Review of the CitizED Website" submitted to the TDA by the assessor Dr Liam Gearon (Oxford University).

Impact on Teachers, Trainee Teachers and Classroom Practice and Teacher Trainers:

  • Dr. Andrew Peterson, Senior Lecturer: History and Civics Education, University of South Australia.

Impact on Subject and other Associations:

  • Chris Waller, Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT).