Citizenship education in Europe

Ana Sofia De Almeida Coutinho, Giulia Paolini, Isabelle de Coster, Olga Borodankova

The report consists of five chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of citizenship education at school in Europe.
Chapter 1 provides an overview of the status of citizenship education in central-level curricula and guidelines, and examines which teaching approaches are recommended for this subject area. Provision may either take the form of a dedicated stand-alone or separate school subject (named differently from one country to the next), a topic integrated within other subjects (such as history, geography, etc.) or a cross-curricular theme to be included in all school subjects. The recommended taught time for the separate subjects dedicated to citizenship education is then reviewed. The chapter subsequently looks at the main objectives and content of citizenship education as contained in central level steering documents. Finally, it offers information on teachers’ opinions regarding civic and citizenship education, based on the results of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) of 2009.
Chapter 2 focuses on opportunities for students and parents to participate in school governance, as an aspect of school organisation that can contribute significantly to the development of citizenship knowledge and skills. The chapter provides an in-depth analysis of official regulations and recommendations regarding mechanisms for student and parent involvement in school governance, such as their representation on class councils and school governing bodies. Official regulations and recommendations are put into perspective with data on the actual level of student participation in school elections and in school decision-making, based on results from the ICCS 2009. The chapter also provides information on existing good practice in promoting student involvement in school governance, and existing training programmes to support parent participation.
Chapter 3 continues to discuss how students experience active and democratic citizenship within and beyond the school context. The chapter considers whether countries encourage the promotion of civic action among pupils and civic/democratic values through school life and culture. It reviews and explains how individual countries encourage student participation in society, including in the local community. Finally, it provides information on opportunities for student participation in civic-related community activities across European countries, based on data from the ICCS 2009.
The focus in Chapter 4 is on the evaluation of both provision and outcomes of citizenship education. It discusses the support for teachers in assessing students in the area of citizenship education, particularly with respect to the tools intended to facilitate the assessment of students’ active participation in school life and society. It also examines to what extent students’ achievement in citizenship education is taken into account in decisions on student transition to the next level of education. This chapter analyses whether or not citizenship related issues are considered in school evaluation. And finally, it reviews the monitoring processes used over the last ten years to evaluate the performance of national education systems as they relate to the provision of citizenship education.
Chapter 5 explores the qualifications and support for two key groups in the implementation of citizenship education: teachers and school heads. It discusses the qualifications required to teach citizenship and provides illustrations of the wide range of continuing professional development (CPD) programmes related to citizenship education across Europe. It also analyses the role of school heads and investigates whether they have received any specific training to help them implement citizenship education in school.

Suggested Citation

Coster, I. De, Borodankova, O., Paolini, G. & De Almeida Coutinho, Ana Sofia. (2012). Citizenship education in Europe. Brussels. Eurydice; Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).

Related projects