United Kingdom: Citizenship education in the United Kingdom: Comparing England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales





citizenship education, curriculum policy, curriculum enactment



  • Comparative analysis across the UK to provide insights into different curriculum models.
  • Contextualised account of how citizenship education is defined and implemented.

Purpose: In this country case study the authors undertake a comparative analysis of citizenship education across the four nations of the UK. The curriculum and contexts in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are first described. Then the article considers how each national example engages with fundamental expectations of citizenship education, specifically in relation to questions of citizenship status and the relationship between citizens and the state; political identity; and active citizenship processes.

Approach: Drawing on the authors’ collective experience and insights into policy and practice in each nation, we started with a ‘generative conversation’ to identify key issues for inclusion in this case study.

Findings: The article unearths a variety of constraints and problems, and situates these in a broader policyscape in which policy accretion and policy approximation generate a permissive culture, which has undermined the promise of citizenship education as an entitlement for all young people.

Author Biographies

Lee Jerome, Middlesex University

Lee Jerome is an Associate Professor at Middlesex University and has a background as a secondary school humanities teacher and teacher educator in England. He has been researching citizenship and children’s rights education for 20 years. He was Education Director at the Institute for Citizenship when citizenship education was introduced into the English national curriculum and helped to establish the Association for Citizenship Teachers (ACT). In 2021 he published, with Professor Hugh Starkey Children’s Rights Education in Diverse Societies with Bloomsbury.

Alan Britton

Alan Britton works in a senior policy role in Scottish education, having previously worked as an academic with specialisms in citizenship education and policy, and as a practitioner in secondary teaching of Modern Studies. His contribution here is in a personal capacity.

Lesley Emerson

Lesley Emerson is a Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast. As a school teacher and a teacher educator in Northern Ireland where she has been instrumental in preparing teachers for the introduction of citizenship into the school curriculum. Her research has focused on two major themes: (i) children’s rights and (ii) critical pedagogical and deliberative approaches to teaching controversial issues, particularly with regard to political education and citizenship education. She has undertaken work on the impact of engaging post-primary students with political ex-prisoners to learn about the Troubles and Northern Irish politics.

Matthew Milliken

Matthew Milliken is a Researcher at the UNESCO Centre in Ulster University. He has  worked extensively with young people in Northern Ireland to develop cross-community initiatives through non-formal education. He has written extensively on the factors that affect the potential of citizenship education to contribute to reconciliation in a society still characterised by the sectarian segregation of schools.

Edda Sant

Edda Sant is Reader in Education at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is originally from Catalonia, Spain, where she worked as a social science and citizenship teacher before joining the University to carry out her PhD in social science didactics. She has been working in England as a citizenship education scholar for the last 8 years. In 2021 she published Political education in times of populism: towards a radical democratic education with Palgrave MacMillan.


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How to Cite

Jerome, L., Britton, A., Emerson, L., James, S. ., Milliken, M., & Sant, E. (2022). United Kingdom: Citizenship education in the United Kingdom: Comparing England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. JSSE - Journal of Social Science Education, 21(4). https://doi.org/10.11576/jsse-5853



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