Lessons Learned from 10 Years of Citizenship Education in Northern Ireland: A Critical Analysis of Curriculum Change

Una O'Connor Bones, Elizabeth Anderson Worden, Jessica Bates, Vanessa Gstrein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Curriculum change is an intricate, lengthy process, requiring commitment, co-operation and compromise amongst the agencies and stakeholders involved; its development is more complex in divided societies, particularly when the subject content is open to contention. The addition of Local and Global Citizenship to the Northern Ireland curriculum in 2007 was intended to prepare students for life in a post-conflict and increasingly diverse society, and the precariousness of current events locally and globally have reinforced its relevance. Yet, the initial curricular aspirations underpinning citizenship education have been largely unfulfilled and its diminished status within the education system reflects the divergences that beset its development and implementation.This paper employs Fullan’s change model of implementation to critically reflect on the interplay of factors that informed and influenced the design and introduction of the Local and Global Citizenship curriculum in Northern Ireland. Using Fullan’s framework as an analytic tool, interviews with key stakeholders directly involved in curriculum reform at the time illustrate how the complexity of change motivated and undermined in equal measure. Whilst the paper assesses the implications of a dislocated citizenship curriculum and identifies lessons learned for Northern Ireland, the findings have wide-ranging relevance for education systems generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-494
Number of pages16
JournalCurriculum Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


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