Welcome to the home of CSPE for the staff and students of the Presentation Secondary School, Wexford. The aim of this site is to outline the course and explain each of the concepts. Over time details on action projects and work covered in each class group will be posted.

About CSPE

Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) is a Junior Certificate course in active citizenship based on human rights and social responsibilities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are the two key documents which underpin this course.
CSPE has been part of the Junior Certificate core curriculum in all post-primary schools since September 1997. It is a short course and should be timetabled for approximately 70 hours over the three years of the junior cycle, which typically works out at one 40-minute class period per week.
Civic, Social and Political Education aims to develop active citizens with:

  • A sense of belonging. Students will only choose to become active participants in their communities if they feel a sense of attachment to them. Social inclusion and matters of identity and values are addressed in CSPE. These are the affective dimensions of active citizenship.
  • A capacity to gain access to information andstructures relating to the society in which they live. Students need a basis of information and knowledge upon which they can consider action, and do so with confidence. This is the cognitive dimension of active citizenship.

An ability and confidence to participate indemocratic society. Practising citizenship is about taking meaningful action of some kind. To achieve this, the syllabus states that over the three-year duration of the course in Civic, Social and Political Education students should undertake at least two class/group/individual action projects. This is thepragmatic dimensionof active citizenship.

Objectives The objectives of CSPE are outlined in terms of knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes/values. An appropriate vehicle for the achievement of these objectives within CSPE is active, participatory class-work where the emphasis is on learning-by-doing.

Through their work in CSPE, students should acquire basic knowledge and a broad understanding of the following:

What is citizenship about? What does it mean to be an active citizen? What is the core of citizenship? Which dimensions apply to me?

Human rights, freedoms and responsibilities
What are human rights? How are they applied in my society? How do we reconcile a conflict of human rights? How do the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child influence citizenship today?

How can I get involved? How can I influence change? How can I make a difference?

Sustainable development
What does it mean to be a temporary owner or steward of the planet? How can I play a part in protecting the environment?

Democratic system
What does it mean? How does it work? Who are the key players?

How do my actions as an individual affect others? What does it mean to live in an interdependent world? Do I understand the web of links that exist across communities and borders, and how an action that takes place in one area can have an effect on another? How is globalisation affecting my life and the lives of others?

Contemporary issues/current affairs: What are the topical issues/events now? How do they affect me and my community?

The central concept of the CSPE course is citizenship. Through the units of study the students should come to understand how the seven concepts (see below) serve to inform and clarify the concept of active participatory citizenship.

In exploring the concepts, units, themes, topics and issues in CSPE, students should have the opportunity to develop and practice the skills of active participatory citizenship, such as:

Identification/awareness skills:

  • reading and reviewing
  • gathering facts
  • asking questions
  • interviewing people
  • writing letters
  • making telephone calls
  • carrying out surveys

Analysis/evaluation skills:

  • collating facts
  • identifying other views and judging them
  • designing a booklet
  • preparing graphs/diagrams

Communication skills:

  • listening to others
  • discussing issues
  • presenting a point of view
  • resolving conflict
  • negotiating with others
  • making appointments
  • writing a letter
  • using a computer
  • briefing speakers


Action skills:

  • agreeing to take on an issue
  • identifying steps to be taken in tackling an issue
  • setting up a meeting room
  • providing refreshments
  • disseminating information
  • preparing materials

“Civic, Social and Political Educationseeks to be affective and to equip pupils with theskills and understanding of processes which enablethem to see, decide, judge and act. Its employment ofactive and co-operatively structured learningmethodologies enable and empower the pupil tobecome an active and participative young person.”

(Department of Education, Civic, Social and Political Education Syllabus, Government of Ireland, Dublin, 1996)