Citizens in the making (2022-2024)

Funded by: Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and Open Societal Challenges, Open University

The project seeks to reduce inequality by establishing pathways within democracy for young people, through developing political agency for meaningful participation. Our starting point is the idea of young people as ‘citizens in the making’. Whilst a ‘deficit’ model of youth citizenship would suggest that young citizens-in-the-making are incomplete citizens, we take a critical youth studies perspective which argues that young people are active political agents.

Wales: The project “Educating young citizens in Wales: political engagement, citizenship and democracy from the perspectives of citizens-in-the-making” is funded by the Research Wales Innovation Fund, and was conducted in collaboration with the OU Wales office. It used a mix of qualitative methods to study the ways in which citizenship is construed and taught under the new 2022 Welsh curriculum, with a focus on the views and experiences of young people themselves. A key finding of this work has been the disconnection between students’ everyday relational understanding of citizenship and related concerns, on the one hand, and the stated aims of top-down citizenship education, on the other. Our research has also identified some of the key challenges faced by teachers in implementing the citizenship elements of new curriculum (including lack of subject-specific training, resources and guidance), as well as some opportunities afforded by the new curriculum in improving provision.

England: The second stage of our research plans to collect new (and complementary data to our project in Wales) in England in order to map out their different citizenship education policies; conduct qualitative research to understand the views of secondary school students and their teachers on what citizenship is and how it is/should be taught in schools; collect survey data on public perceptions about the role that secondary schools should have in civic education.


Thumbnail photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash