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16th Oct 2017 3:24pm News

ACT calls for discrimination against Citizenship Teachers to end

ACT petitions to the House of Lords for more support for Citizenship teachers.

Citizenship teachers and their classes deserve to be valued.

The Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT) is calling on the Government to take urgent action to change policies that are discriminating against Citizenship teachers.  ACT research, presented to the House of Lords Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement on Wednesday 18 October, will show that current policy is creating significant barriers to those who want to train as Citizenship specialist teachers, and for existing teachers who want to progress their careers.

Potential trainee teachers are being denied access to initial teacher education because of high fees and living costs and the reduction of PGCE teacher training courses across the country. The two largest PGCE providers are both in London and there are just a handful of places elsewhere. At Bradford College, for the first time since 2002 the PGCE course has failed to recruit and numbers are down in Sheffield, Leicester and Christ Canterbury University in Kent. The numbers training through other teacher training routes such as School Centered Initial Teacher Training is unclear.

Citizenship traditionally attracts trainees from a diverse range of backgrounds including those from the most economic and socially disadvantaged parts of the country, and a high proportion of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) trainees. Government figures show that just 15% of those on graduate teacher training courses are from BAME communities. The current PGCE courses for Citizenship in London at UCL, Institute of Education and Kingston University have over 70% of BAME trainees.

PGCE course tutors have reported significant difficulties with recruitment and find potential trainees are switching to subjects that offer bursaries, or are pulling out all together for financial reasons. Currently Citizenship teacher trainees have no access to teacher training bursaries to help pay fees.

Existing Citizenship teachers are also being denied access to career progression opportunities because of their exclusion from key government programmes such as Specialist Leaders in Education run by the National College. Further, Ofsted’s failure to include Citizenship in inspection reports adds to a perception that the subject is not important and neither are Citizenship teachers.

Liz Moorse, Chief Executive of the Association for Citizenship Teaching said,

“Citizenship teachers are nationally important assets to be valued and we need to create opportunities so there are more of them, not less.

Citizenship is a statutory National Curriculum subject that provides essential teaching about democracy, politics, equalities and anti-extremist education as well as developing politically engaged and active citizens. The subject plays a critical role in the wider agendas of British Values, social inclusion and Prevent. Every school needs a trained Citizenship teacher to lead the subject.

The cumulative effect of government policies has been to marginalize Citizenship teachers and this is affecting their life chances and the quality of teaching in schools. We know people who want to train as Citizenship teachers but are being prevented from doing so.  The government needs to take urgent action to remove the barriers, which are stopping existing Citizenship teachers from furthering their careers and discouraging people, including under-represented groups, from joining the teaching profession. If we are serious about social mobility and equality then this needs to apply in teaching as well.

There is some excellent Citizenship practice in schools across the country. Citizenship teachers are working hard to provide a well-planned curriculum and prepare students for the new GCSEs in Citizenship Studies, including active citizenship, often with less curriculum time and resources than for other subjects. Without trained subject specialists and ongoing professional development, the quality of Citizenship teaching suffers and the amount of curriculum provision reduces or disappears in schools. And of course, all of this affects the quality of outcomes for pupils.

We are calling for Government, Ofsted and the National College to take urgent action to ensure policies are changed so they are inclusive, not exclusive of Citizenship and Citizenship teachers.”