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24th Feb 2022 1:21pm News

House of Lords - Liaison Committee evidence session

ACT's Chief Executive gave oral evidence at the Citizenship and Civic Engagement follow-up session.

House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement: follow-up

On Thursday 10th February 2022, the Association for Citizenship Teaching’s (ACT) Chief Executive Liz Moorse was requested to provide oral evidence at the House of Lords Select Committee meeting that was called to reflect on the progress of its recommendations from 2018.

ACT was asked to provide an analysis of how Citizenship and the subject teaching community have fared during the intervening years and share any insights that could benefit the committee’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities.

Giving evidence alongside ACT were Mark Gifford, CEO of the NCSAshley Hodges, CEO of Young Citizens; Chris Russell, National Director of Education, Ofsted; and David Goodhart, Head of Demography, Immigration & Integration, Policy Exchange.

The purpose of the hearing was to focus on three core areas:

  1. the current state of Citizenship education
  2. the success of cross-government coordination, and
  3. improvements in the Life in the UK Test.

In the opening exchanges Liz provided optimism about the dedicated community of specialist teachers who are committed to the delivery and development of the Citizenship curriculum in hundreds of schools, before going on to call for greater investment to Citizenship education and its status.

When pressed by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts about what investment was needed to support Citizenship education, Liz Moorse stated that there had still been no central Government investment in Citizenship since 2008.

We are desperately building and doing the grassroots work we can, but we need that top down policy-driven investment. It means money, it means teacher training, it means CPD and it means - when we get to it - Ofsted taking this subject seriously and evaluating it rigorously so that schools improve.

Liz Moorse
Chief Executive, ACT

Ofsted’s National Director of Education, Chris Russell said how the new inspection framework is still in its early stages of being applied due to Covid disruptions.

In the later session, Minister for School Standards, Robin Walker MP, spoke about the importance of Citizenship being assessed with the same level of rigour as other national curriculum subjects.

Robin Walker MP speaking at the House of Lords, 10th Feb 2o22.

Robin Walker MP speaking at the House of Lords, 10th Feb 2022.

We work closely with them [Ofsted] on the new inspection framework, I think that does allow for a greater breadth in the emphasis of what they look at within school and allows them to look at the balance within the curriculum which absolutely should include Citizenship…and they can take deep dives into specific subjects during inspection and that should include citizenship for some schools.

Robin Walker MP
Former Minister of State at the Department for Education

We’ve just actually put in some new training around Personal Development which has got a significant part around the inspection of Citizenship. What we now want to do in the summer is to actually use that and use the evidence that we have from our inspections to actually look more closely at what we can say about Personal Development and about Citizenship - and we hope to be able to publish something in the summer that will look in more detail at some of these issues.

Chris Russell
National Director of Education, Ofsted

Lord Blunkett speaking at the House of Lords, 10th Feb 2022

Lord Blunkett speaking at the House of Lords, 10th Feb 2022

In response, Lord Blunkett appeared to question Ofsted’s willingness to address the concerns previously raised or indeed their understanding of Citizenship education’s unique value in schools.

The Committee session ended with Baroness Barker, Baroness Eaton and Lord Hodgson requesting further clarity from Ofsted and DfE about the implementation and inspection of Citizenship.

What happened in 2018?

Back in 2018, the House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement called for significant and timely change to help ensure democratic participation and engagement, and to encourage integration.

It asked the Government to reverse its lack of commitment to citizenship policies in the UK, and commit to making changes for a more cohesive and vibrant society. Citizenship policy has been incoherent, unfocused, and too often subject to short term, short lived, disjointed experiences and initiatives.

In The Ties that Bind: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in the 21st Century report, it stated that Citizenship education in England had been ‘allowed to degrade to a parlous state’. The report recommended the following.

  1. The decline of the Citizenship subject must be addressed in its totality as a matter of urgency.
  2. Citizenship education is the first great opportunity for instilling and developing British values, encouraging social cohesion and creating active citizens.
  3. The Government should create a statutory requirement for citizenship education for all children in primary and secondary schools.
  4. The Government should establish a target of having enough trained citizenship teachers to have a specialist teacher in every school, provide bursaries, [and conduct a review of the citizenship curriculum].

Progress since then has been punctuated by the pandemic, but there is clearly still much work to be done. The previous Chairman of the Committee, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, said:

“A cohesive and dynamic society is dependent on citizens feeling secure, engaged and fulfilled. The Government has not given sufficient focus to establishing long term programmes which build trust and confidence between state and citizen. Individuals do not learn about the government and political institutions by osmosis. They need to be taught and taught well. The neglect of citizenship education in recent years is to be much regretted. ”

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

Looking forward

The Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT) – the registered subject association for a national community of Citizenship teachers seeks a more ambitious and sustained Government commitment to Citizenship education across England. Our teacher network needs partners from Government and from across the education sector to ensure a well-planned, sequenced and progressive curriculum. Furthermore, this should be provided as a national entitlement for every young person in school.

We look forward to digesting the forthcoming follow-up report by the Lords Liaison Committee due in March, as well as meeting the Minister for School Standards again at our facilitated roundtable event with GCSE Citizenship Studies pupils on 1st March 2022.


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