ACT's Response: Maintaining impartiality in the classroom
Teachers have a duty to ensure that their students understand how politics affects their lives and how this is portrayed by the media. As a national curriculum subject Citizenship teaches young people about the role of MPs, and the role of the media and Parliament in holding the government to account.
Young people should learn about and engage with politics as part of a broad and balanced curriculum that includes teaching Citizenship. As the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi states, it is important pupils should be taught about political issues in an impartial way, and we know that is what good Citizenship teachers do.
ACT guidance for teachers on remaining impartial has recently been updated to summarise the key things for schools to consider when teaching citizenship and political issues. It summarises relevant aspects of the law in relation to remaining impartial and avoiding partisan activity. This was undertaken as part of a recent project on Citizenship and Politics for the Welsh Government, but is also relevant to the requirements for teachers in England.
● outlines the responsibilities of practitioners to ensure they are effective in enabling young people to become ethical, informed citizens;
● provides practical advice on how to remain impartial and non-partisan when teaching controversial issues in citizenship and politics education;
● offers advice on things practitioners should do and things to avoid when seeking to provide impartial and non-partisan education;
● sets out responses to frequently asked questions from practitioners.
As the subject association, we are always happy to support teachers and schools regarding the delivery of politics within the Citizenship curriculum, and would encourage all school leaders to ensure they have a trained member of staff to lead this subject.
In yesterday’s Houses of Lords enquiry into Civil Engagement and Citizenship Education, ACT’s Chief Executive, Liz Moorse, asked for more investment from central government, to ensure that there are high-skilled, trained teachers dedicated to politics and citizenship in every school if we want to ensure all students develop as informed, engaged citizens.