This paper stems from a study of 45 secondary schools and colleges in England during 2007/08. Using documentary analysis, interviews with staff, students and parents, surveys of staff and students, and official statistics, we look at a number of potential outcomes related to citizenship. These include voting behaviour, charity work, and preparation for later life. In contrast to standard school effectiveness and improvement studies, we find that student/family background and institution-levels factors are relatively minor determinants of citizenship outcomes. If accepted this suggests that improvements here can come easier than in more traditional school outcomes, since they appear to be more sensitive to teacher and students experiences. In particular, we propose further investigation of the promise of student autonomy, staff prioritisation of student aspirations, and mutual respect between all actors in education.