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Citizenship: Qualifications

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what plans he has to develop (a)(i) full and (ii) joint citizenship GCSEs and (b) citizenship A-levels; (197561)

(2) what plans the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has to improve standards for citizenship teaching in schools, with particular reference to the development of consistent practice in assessing, recording and reporting student outcomes.

The new A-level in Citizenship Studies was accredited for use by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in 2007 and is now available from the Awarding Body, AQA. First teaching begins in September 2008.

The GGSEs for all national curriculum subjects are currently under review. It is likely that awarding bodies will submit full course GGSE qualifications for Citizenship Studies this year. If so, accreditation by QCA will be completed in the autumn of 2008 and first teaching would begin in September 2009. It is expected that the awarding bodies will also continue to offer their short course qualifications in Citizenship Studies.

Currently three awarding bodies, AQA, OCR and Edexcel offer short courses in Citizenship Studies. These have been used by schools since 2002. Last summer 75,000 students took the short course GCSE in Citizenship Studies. This summer it is estimated that 95,000 students will take the qualification. Citizenship Studies remains the fastest growing GCSE qualification

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is responsible for developing the curriculum. Citizenship has been a statutory national curriculum subject since 2002. The recent review of secondary education provided an opportunity to look at the clarity of teaching requirements for this subject alongside all the other subjects in the national curriculum. The new secondary curriculum for citizenship was published in August 2007 for first teaching from September 2008,

Alongside the new curriculum, level descriptions for Citizenship were published for the first time. These offer a clearer framework of standards and were developed in consultation with teachers and the subject community and build on the work QCA undertook in 2006 which led to the publication “Assessing citizenship at key stage 3. Example assessment activities QCA/06/2294”.

QCA is currently working with groups of schools on exemplification materials and support for teachers in using the new level descriptions. Schools will be required to use the new levels descriptions for citizenship to make judgments about student attainment from the summer of 2011, this being the first year the first cohort of pupils will complete the new key stage 3 programme of study.