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26th Sep 2022 8:38am Blogs

Citizenship classrooms need confident teachers empowered through CPD

Zoe Baker, ACT Head of Education says schools should prioritize CPD for teachers to ensure high quality Citizenship education.

Citizenship Education’s 20th Birthday

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Citizenship as a statutory subject in the National Curriculum, ACT has developed an inclusive CPD programme to empower teachers across the nation. Our new CPD programme helps those new to the subject, as well as experienced subject specialists looking for knowledge enhancement.

We ended the last academic year with such a positive feeling. We celebrated the highest standards in teaching with wonderful teachers at our inaugural Teaching Citizenship awards at the Houses of Parliament. Furthermore, we also held our first face-to-face Teaching Citizenship Conference for three years. It was fantastic to meet members in real life again! However, the excitement continues. As a new academic year unfolds, we are proud to share our brand new CPD offer with existing and prospective members. 

We know our members value our subject focused CPD. So we wanted to make sure this continues to improve by offering something for all Citizenship teachers. Regardless of whether you are training to be a Citizenship teacher, or an experienced department leader, we are here.

“Whoever you are, you will be able to benefit from something to enhance your Citizenship subject knowledge and pedagogy.” 

Over the past year, we’ve developed a comprehensive and flexible online CPD offer that sits across six strands. You can attend any of these sessions, at any point. Equally you can opt to focus on the strand that best suits your current role and needs. So here’s our introduction to the different strands and who they suit best.

Stand 1: Introduction to Citizenship 

This strand is designed for anybody who is new to the subject. From ITE trainees to experienced teachers who are teaching Citizenship for the first time. The events within this strand allow participants to develop their understanding of the core substantive knowledge of the subject, key concepts and best practice in pedagogy. The sessions are designed to support the criteria of the CCF and ECF especially in sections regarding Subject and Curriculum and Classroom Practice. 

Strand 2: GCSE Network 

Building on our current teacher network, we have developed a bespoke strand for members who teach GCSE Citizenship Studies. During the year the focus of sessions will include improving outcomes for the Citizenship Investigation (active citizenship), examination techniques, and opportunities for teachers to support each other with moderation of assessments. 

Strand 3: Citizenship Matters

This strand is one of the most broad. It allows us to develop specialist courses around particular curriculum topics where we know teachers need support. It also allows us to share new research with our community. Some of these sessions will be one off events, for example, Literacy in Citizenship or Assessment. Others will relate to relevant events – for example Parliament Week. This will also be the strand where teachers can enroll in multi-part courses in which they will develop a more in depth understanding of Citizenship related topics. For example, how to track Citizenship across the curriculum for schools who do not teach this discreetly. 

Strand 4: Active Citizenship

As the leading Citizenship subject organisation, we know that at the heart of the curriculum should be informed and responsible action. This allows students to demonstrate their substantive knowledge in a way that enables them to exercise their agency. Sessions in this strand look at the theory behind active citizenship. They will also look at practical ways to embed active citizenship within the curriculum. Our Toolkit for Active Citizenship in Schools will also help.

Strand 5: Leading Citizenship

The role of leading Citizenship can be complex and often involve non specialists teachers taking on the role. Within this strand we will provide an opportunity to gain subject association accreditation as a leader at two levels. The first will look at the logistical role of subject leaders and developing the core abilities to ensure Citizenship is successful across the school. The level two course will be more focused on developing the skills of those who lead Citizenship across a number of schools locally and nationally, and need to develop their understanding of research informed practice and how this influences the curriculum. 

Strand 6: Subject Knowledge Enhancement

Developing specialist knowledge around key areas of the curriculum and examination specifications can sometimes be challenging. This strand brings together experts who will deliver bespoke training around a topic which can then be related to the curriculum. In the past sessions have looked at the knowledge teachers need regarding unions to support the national curriculum and GCSE Citizenship specifications. Other examples include economic and finance education sessions and sessions on equality and rights.


In addition to the CPD sessions within these strands, we will also continue to offer our relaxed virtual staffroom meetings. On top of that we’ll offer expert-led CPD sessions and our themed conferences. And it doesn’t stop there! The new CPD programme offers certification of attendance, to support your appraisal evidence. There is also certification for successful completion of certain multi-part training or courses. For example, our Introduction to Citizenship sessions: comprising of Citizenship Knowledge Part 1, 2 and 3.

This collection of online CPD sessions provide a basis for those new to the subject. Participants will gain key knowledge, and learn how to develop Citizenship teaching across the curriculum. Attendance at the sessions and the completion of the reflective work afterwards results in certification from ACT, as the subject association for Citizenship education in schools and colleges. 

Looking forward

As you can probably tell, we are really excited to be welcoming known and new faces to our CPD sessions and getting to know you better, while we develop a highly skilled and knowledgeable community of Citizenship teachers.

My top tip for the 2022/23 academic year is to invest in an organisational membership as all of our CPD is available to your entire teaching team for free, as part of our Citizenship education’s 20th anniversary offer. 

Do visit the autumn term CPD events and I hope to meet you soon. 

– Zoe Baker, Head of Education and Professional Development