Virtues, values and the fracturing of civic and moral virtue in citizenship education policy in England

Andrew Peterson, David Civil

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This paper analyses the fracturing of civic and moral virtue within curricular policies pertaining to Citizenship in England since the late 1990s. A longstanding aim of education and schooling, the teaching of citizenship gained a more secure base in the English curriculum with the introduction of Citizenship as a statutory subject for 11–16 years olds from 2002, which owed a great deal to the Report of the Advisory Group on Education for Citizenship and the Teaching of Democracy in Schools (Crick Report). The report drew intimate connections between civic virtue, moral virtue, and personal character. These connections have become seriously fractured over the years since the Crick Report. In charting this fracturing, the paper will examine how the character-influenced direction taken in the early/mid-2000s was replaced by, at first, a more general emphasis on British Values before morphing into a more specific, though no less problematic, concentration on Fundamental British Values. While character education has gained significant policy attention in England over the last six years, the civic dimensions have been at best underplayed, with little connection to education for citizenship. It is argued that without greater clarity and consistency about how the moral – including moral virtues – intersects with the civic in contemporary Britain, official curricular policy (whether for Citizenship education, character education or more generally) will restrict rather than encourage the education of young citizens who are informed, wise, responsible and active participants in their communities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Review
Early online date28 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Feb 2022


  • British values
  • Citizenship education
  • character education
  • civic virtues
  • moral virtues


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