Citizenship & Reach Out

A Charterhouse education is about preparation for a life of achievement, potential, service and happiness. Our aim is for all Carthusians (Charterhouse pupils) to leave as the adults they wish to be, and which the world needs them to be. Central to this is our excellence in academia, pastoral care, and co-curricular activity, but we also run an impressive programme of Citizenship education throughout the School, which is instrumental to all pupils developing as individuals and as members of the community.

Much of this programme is active, and relates closely to our wider Community & Partnerships work. However, it is also taught, as part of the timetabled curriculum in the Remove and the Fifth Form, and through workshops and extra-curricular events in other year groups. The programme includes those elements often called PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) in other schools, but goes far wider. It covers everything from climate change to consent, human rights to healthcare, equality to the environment. It is taught in an engaging and exciting way, with a focus on whole-group debate and discussion. Much of it is delivered by our own beaks, working closely with our outstanding Hunt Health Centre team and others; we also call on the expertise of a wide range of visiting speakers to stimulate and challenge the pupils. Recently, these have included the equality campaigner Laura Bates BEM, the Holocaust survivor Leslie Kleinman BEM, the businessman Peter Higgins, and the social entrepreneur Mike Sani.

Throughout the programme, the Carthusian Values of kindness, responsibility, open-mindedness, moral courage, and perseverance are central.


Fourth Form

During their first year at Charterhouse, each Fourth Form pupil will participate in a wide range of Citizenship activities, many delivered as part of their wider induction – as befits such a central part of the School’s ethos. Particular sessions and projects include:

  • The Fourths’ Forest – all Yearlings take part in an active session of tree-planting, learning about climate change and environmental responsibility, led in partnership with local social enterprise Roots for the Future;
  • How We Learn – an introduction to different learning styles and behaviours, delivered in partnership with Jigsaw School, a local autism centre;
  •  Introduction to Healthy Living – sessions focussed on personal health and well-being, as well as our responsibilities to those around us, and the history and heritage of the NHS;
  • Our Values – group debates on Fundamental British Values and Carthusian Values, and the ways these fit together (delivered alongside a talk on extremism and safety by Surrey Police);
  •  Discussion groups, often by House, on a wide range of topics including controlled substances, relationships, and cybersafety.


All pupils in the Remove study Citizenship as part of their taught curriculum. There is no regular banco, but all pupils participate in an annual competition, the Citizenship Essay Prize. This year’s set questions (all pupils answer one) included:

  1. “Decisions are made by those who show up.” (attrib. Harry Truman) How can those under the age of eighteen play any meaningful part in society, if their views are not valued at the ballot box?
  2. “Human rights only work if everyone, everywhere, subscribes to them; otherwise, they are doomed to fail.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
  3.  “One of the key features that appeared to distinguish terrorists from mass murderers was the fact that they were motivated more clearly by an ideology than by personal motivations.” (Rafaello Pantucci) Can terrorism ever be the wrong means to an admirable end?
  4. Does diversity mean that equality is impossible?
  5.  “That a baby can today be assigned the gender ‘U’ at birth proves beyond doubt that the facts of biology have now been granted inferior status to the vagaries of equality.” To what extent do you agree with this claim?
  6. There have been no openly gay footballers in the top four divisions since Justin Fashanu killed himself in 1998. Why might this be?
  7.  To what extent do you feel that the ability to form meaningful relationships with other human beings has been aided or hindered by the development of social media?

Throughout the year, pupils consider a wide range of topics and issues under three main headings:

  • Our World (global politics, rights and responsibilities, terrorism and extremism, and equality)
  • Other People and Me (relationships, contraception, sexual consent, social media)
  • Healthy Body, Healthy Mind (mental and physical well-being, nutrition, controlled substances)

Fifth Form

The taught curriculum continues in the Fifth Form, centred around three main areas:

  •  Twenty-First Century Britain (democratic engagement and suffrage, the legal system, legalisation of drugs, and Fundamental British Values revisited)
  • Identity and Image (national and ethnic identity, online profiles, body image, and cancer)
  • Beyond Charterhouse (personal finance and careers)

Pupils will also participate in detailed, age-appropriate workshops with LACAUK on controlled substances, with a specific focus on illegal drugs. The programme of visiting speakers continues with such eminent experts as technology consultant Dr Aric Sigman.


During their Specialist years, all pupils will participate in a range of Citizenship activities; the focus shifts more towards lectures from interesting guest speakers, and workshops delivered in an informal setting by Charterhouse beaks. Specific topics will include sexual health, gender equality, drugs, alcohol, and personal and public safety.


The nature of the Citizenship programme means that many staff, teachers and others from across the School, are involved in its delivery – and the pupils’ experience is the richer for that. However, a core team of teachers delivers the bulk of the taught programme, bringing with them experience from other academic and extra-curricular disciplines, and external experience as well. 

Mr Ben Cahill-Nicholls, MA, AMusTCL, FRSA - Head of Department

Mr Cahill-Nicholls is Director: Community & Partnerships at Charterhouse, which includes leadership of the Citizenship programme alongside oversight of our charity, community engagement, service learning, local school partnerships, and international partnerships. Mr Nicholls also teaches Music and IB Theory of Knowledge, and is a tutor in Girdlestoneites. After a music scholarship at Winchester and a choral exhibition at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he read Music, Mr Nicholls began his career in the civil service, and was subsequently an adviser to the House of Commons Education Committee. He held senior posts in further and higher education, including at a 20,000-student college in East London, before coming to Charterhouse. Mr Nicholls has particular passions for voluntary work and musical theatre, which come together in RicNic, the youth theatre charity he founded and chairs. He is a governor at Godalming Junior School, and an ordinand (trainee priest) in the Church of England.

Miss Annabel Hawkins, BA

Following a degree in Geography from the University of Birmingham, Miss Hawkins worked for two years as a marketing strategist in the City. She qualified as a teacher from University College, Dublin and taught at Wesley College in the city. Since returning to the UK, she has taught at Ardingly College for eight years and has extensive IB Diploma Programme and A Level experience. Whilst keenly interested in all aspects of Geography, her real focus and love is Development Geography. Miss Hawkins has previously worked as a Housemistress and Head of Middle School, she has run several expeditions to The Gambia and ski race trips. Miss Hawkins joined Charterhouse in September 2015 as Assistant Head (Pastoral).

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