Welcome to CSPE at St. Vincent’s Castleknock College.

Civic, Social and Political Education (“CSPE”) at St. Vincent’s Castleknock College is an integral part of our curriculum, aiming to empower students with the knowledge and skills necessary for active and engaged citizenship. CSPE goes beyond traditional subjects, focusing on key aspects that shape responsible and informed individuals in society.

The short course in CSPE is taught to all three junior years which aims to inform, inspire, empower and enable young people to participate as active citizens in contemporary society at local, national and global levels, based on an understanding of human rights and social responsibilities.

What is CSPE?

CSPE is a subject that explores the civic, social, and political dimensions of our world. It encourages students to think critically, engage in meaningful discussions, and develop a deep understanding of their roles and responsibilities as citizens. Through a diverse range of topics, CSPE fosters a sense of social awareness and promotes values such as justice, equality, and democracy.

CSPE is one of the three pillars comprising the well-being curriculum of the College. The other two pillars are Physical Education (“PE”) and Social, Personal and Health Education (“S.P.H.E.”).

Curriculum Breakdown:

CSPE is structured to cover a wide array of topics, including:

  1. Rights and Responsibilities: In this module, students delve into the concept of rights and responsibilities, both at an individual and societal level. They explore fundamental human rights, civil rights, and the ethical considerations that come with these entitlements. Students learn to appreciate the delicate balance between personal freedoms and the obligations we owe to one another and society. Through case studies and real-world examples, they develop a nuanced understanding of how rights and responsibilities intersect and influence daily life.
  2. Human Rights: This segment of CSPE focuses specifically on the principles and importance of human rights on a global scale. Students examine the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, exploring its historical context and relevance in contemporary society. Through critical analysis, they learn to identify instances of human rights violations, understand the consequences, and explore potential avenues for advocacy. This module encourages students to become advocates for justice and agents of positive change in the world.
  3. Global Citizenship: Global citizenship is a key theme in CSPE, challenging students to broaden their perspectives and recognize their interconnectedness with the wider world. Topics include global issues such as climate change, poverty, and inequality. Students explore the impact of these issues on different communities worldwide and investigate potential solutions. Through collaborative projects and discussions, students develop a sense of empathy, cultural awareness, and an appreciation for the diversity that characterizes our global society.
  4. Governance and Democracy: This module provides an in-depth exploration of governance structures and the democratic process. Students study various forms of government, examining the principles that underpin democracy. They learn about the role of citizens in a democratic society, the importance of political participation, and the mechanisms that ensure accountability. This knowledge empowers students to critically assess political systems, make informed decisions, and actively engage in the democratic process.

Community Action Project: The Community Action Project is a practical application of CSPE principles. Students identify a local issue or challenge within their community and design a project to address it. This hands-on experience allows them to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-world situations, fostering a sense of agency and social responsibility. Through collaboration and community engagement, students develop essential life skills such as project management, teamwork, and leadership, while making a positive impact on their immediate surroundings.

CSPE Classroom-Based Assessment (CBA) Breakdown:

  1. Research and Preparation:
    • Introduction to the Topic: The CBA often begins with an introduction to the selected topic or issue. This may be a contemporary local, national, or global issue related to civic, social, or political concerns.
    • Research Skills: Students are encouraged to develop research skills. This may involve gathering information from various sources, including online databases, interviews, surveys, and primary sources.
  2. Classroom Activities:
    • Class Discussions: Engaging in class discussions on the chosen topic to deepen understanding and explore different perspectives.
    • Analysis of Relevant Materials: Studying and analyzing relevant materials such as articles, documentaries, or case studies that provide insights into the chosen issue.
  3. Project Development:
    • Project Design: Students are required to design a project that addresses or explores the chosen issue. This project could take various forms, such as a presentation, report, display, or multimedia project.
    • Implementation: Students implement their projects, putting into practice the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired during the research and classroom activities.
  4. Reflection and Evaluation:
    • Reflective Journal: Students asked to keep a reflective journal documenting their experiences, challenges faced, and the decision-making process throughout the project.
    • Self-Evaluation: Students often participate in self-evaluation, reflecting on their individual contributions to the project and the effectiveness of their chosen methodologies.
  5. Presentation and Communication:
    • Presentation: Depending on the nature of the project, students may be required to present their findings and insights to the class or a wider audience.
    • Communication Skills: Emphasis is placed on the development of effective communication skills, both in the written and oral form.
  6. Assessment: Teachers assess the CBA based on criteria provided by the examining authority. Assessment criteria may include research skills, critical thinking, project design, communication, and overall understanding of the chosen issue.

The CBA is done within the classroom over a period of six one-hour classes during second year and the second CBA is completed in third year.

The Reflective journal:

The reflective journal in CSPE (Civic, Social, and Political Education) serves as a valuable tool for students to engage in self-reflection, critical thinking, and personal growth. Here are some benefits of incorporating a reflective journal into CSPE:

  1. Critical Thinking and Analysis:
    • The reflective journal encourages students to think critically about their experiences, beliefs, and values. It provides a platform for them to analyze and evaluate their own perspectives and the perspectives of others.
  2. Self-Awareness:
    • Through the process of reflection, students gain a deeper understanding of their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. This heightened self-awareness can contribute to personal development and a better understanding of one’s role in society.
  3. Connection to Course Material:
    • The reflective journal allows students to connect their real-life experiences with the concepts and topics covered in CSPE. It helps bridge the gap between theory and practice, making the subject matter more relevant and meaningful.
  4. Communication Skills:
    • Writing in a reflective journal involves articulating thoughts and experiences coherently. This practice enhances students’ communication skills, helping them express ideas and opinions more effectively.
  5. Goal Setting and Planning:
    • Students can use the reflective journal to set personal goals related to civic engagement, social responsibility, or political awareness. Reflecting on progress toward these goals allows for continuous improvement and a sense of achievement.
  6. Feedback and Assessment:
    • Teachers can use the reflective journal as a form of ongoing assessment. By reviewing students’ reflections, educators can gain insights into individual learning journeys, areas of growth, and potential challenges.

Benefits of CSPE:

  1. Active Citizenship: CSPE equips students with the tools to actively participate in civic life, fostering a sense of responsibility towards their community and the broader society.
  2. Critical Thinking: The subject encourages students to analyze and evaluate information critically, helping them become discerning individuals in a world inundated with diverse perspectives.
  3. Social Awareness: CSPE explores global and local issues, cultivating an understanding of societal challenges and the importance of empathy and cooperation.
  4. Communication Skills: Through group projects, presentations, and discussions, students enhance their communication skills, preparing them for effective engagement in various social and professional contexts.


CSPE Trips in the past have included a visit to the Áras an Uachtaráin to witness the presentation of credentials from new Ambassadors to the country. Students have visited the Dáil to experience politics in action as well as trips to the Phoenix Park.

By exploring these topics, CSPE at St. Vincent’s Castleknock College aims to not only impart knowledge but also nurture a generation of socially conscious and active citizens committed to making a positive difference in the world. Students not only gain academic knowledge but also develop the skills and attitudes needed to actively contribute to a just and inclusive society.

Join us on a journey of exploration, understanding, and empowerment through CSPE at St. Vincent’s Castleknock College.