Changes for 2021

This page may be out of date

The Government announced on 6 January that exams won’t go ahead as normal in summer 2021, so some of this information may change. We’ll update this page as soon as further detail becomes available.

Read about 2021 exam changes

Following Ofqual’s announcement about summer 2021, here are the changes you need to know about.

Please note: these changes apply to summer 2021 only.

Completing the Citizenship Action Investigation

Students are still required to complete the Citizenship Action Investigation.

Stage 2 of the investigation requires students to research their issue using both primary and secondary sources.

Undertaking research safely

  • Face-to-face interactions should be avoided when completing the research phase of the Citizenship Action Investigation.
  • We recommend that students use online secondary sources of information as far as possible.
  • Some forms of primary research will no longer be possible, but students can use online methods to conduct research, for example surveys, online interviews, etc.

Definitions of primary and secondary sources

Ofqual’s GCSE subject-level conditions and requirements for citizenship studies document defines these types of sources as:

Primary sources are the data and findings generated by the student when undertaking research and enquiries into citizenship issues and as part of the process of taking citizenship action. This can include data and findings from student observations, discussions with members of the community, qualitative and quantitative interview data, recordings, results of polls, votes and surveys relevant to their study.

Secondary sources are the data and findings, generated in the past or by another party, that are used by the student when undertaking research and enquiries into citizenship issues and as part of the process of taking citizenship action. These can include published sources of data, findings and official reports from public bodies and institutions such as Parliament, government departments, local councils and authorities, reports in the news and the media, NGOS, groups, research and other organisations, opinion polls, statistics, videos and other sources, relevant to their study.

Ensuring safety and security for teachers and students

Section 3.1 of the specification sets out the skills, processes and methods that students must demonstrate. These should be developed in a safe environment at all times.

We expect most of the work for a Citizenship Action Investigation to take place in the classroom as we consider this to be the safest environment. Students may also undertake this work at home.

It’s important that students remain safe in online environments when carrying out the investigation, they may need additional support and guidance in order to do this.

Working safely and securely

In order to maintain the safety and security of students, the requirement to take Citizenship Action in a ‘real out-of-classroom context’ must be followed with reference to the above guidance.

  • The practising of skills must take place in the safe environments identified.
  • Where students are able to work safely in small groups in classrooms they can do so, whilst relying on their teacher’s professional judgement to support them.
  • Any other non-classroom based (group) activity should be dependent upon, and carried out in accordance with, your school/college policy.
  • For Stage 4, we advise that students don’t undertake volunteering.
  • Students should not ‘establish a group to promote change’ unless it’s with people with whom they can safely interact.
  • All other stages can be carried out in the safe environments identified.
  • Teachers should support their students to make these decisions.

No other changes

There are no other planned changes to our GCSE Citizenship Studies specification or to the exams. For Paper 1, we anticipate that students may write about the ways in which they have adapted or evaluated their Citizenship Action as a result of the pandemic. All answers will be credited if they meet the relevant criteria in the mark scheme.

Help and support

If you require further guidance please contact us.