Landmark House of Lords Committee report calls for statutory Citizenship and a trained teacher in every school
In a landmark report published today (18 April) The Ties that Bind: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in the 21st Century, the House of Lords Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee has called on Government to take urgent action to reprioritise the subject of Citizenship and ensure every school has a trained Citizenship teacher.
The Chair of the Committee, the Conservative Peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, said,
'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.'
ACT President Lord Blunkett of Brightside and a member of the committee said,
'I am extremely pleased that the cross party Select Comittee has recognised the critical role of citizenship education in reinforcing and facilitating an active vibrant democracy.'
The report sets out a clear and compelling case for the role of high quality Citizenship in all schools along with wider recommendations including to revise fundamental British Values as Shared Values of British Citizenship to encourage positive citizenship.
'The creation of a country in which every one of its citizens feels secure, engaged and fulfilled must be a primary objective of a successful modern democratic nation. This should be a country in which everyone feels that they belong, and to which everyone feels they can contribute.'
'Government must re-prioritise the subject, creating a statutory entitlement to citizenship education from primary to the end of secondary education, and set a target which will allow every secondary school to have at least one trained teacher'.
The report continues,
'Education should help young people become active citizens once they understand their role within society and how they can go about improving it. Too often individuals are prevented from engaging because they lack the skills or knowlege required.'
The report recommends:
- Government should create a statutory entitlement to citizenship education from primary to the end of secondary education. This should be inspected by Ofsted to ensure the quantity and quality of provision. Ofsted should give consideration to this in deciding whether a school should be rated as Outstanding.
- Government should establish a target of having enough trained citizenship teachers to have a citizenship specialist in every secondary school.
- Government should establish citizenship education as a priority subject for teacher training, and provide bursaries for applicants. Urgent action should be taken to step up programmes of Continuing Professional Development for those willing to take on and lead citizenship education in their school.
- Government should ensure that the National College for Teaching and Leadership allows citizenship teachers to apply to be specialist leaders of education.
- Government should work with exam boards to ensure that citizenship qualifications feature active citizenship projects as a substantial part of the qualification.
- Government should conduct a review of the citizenship curriculum and formulate a new curriculum that includes the Shared Values of British Citizenship, the NCS and active citizenship projects. Piecemeal changes made without reference to the existing curriculum should be avoided.
- Ofsted should undertake a review of the current provision and quality of citizenship education in schools and highlight best practice. This should be followed up with long term monitoring of whether citizenship education achieves the set of criteria or goals that the Government sets out for it.
- The Government has allowed citizenship education in England to degrade to a parlous state. The decline of the subject must be addressed in its totality as a matter of urgency.
The wide range of recommendations reflect ACT's evidence, which drew on a survey with teachers, both members and non-members, and a series of focus groups with pupils in schools. ACT Chief Executive Liz Moorse said,
'We are very pleased that the Committee has taken the views of teachers and pupils across the country seriously and agrees with us that Government must act urgently to prioritise Citizenship education as a requirement in all schools, as well as address the lack of trained specialist Citizenship teachers and CPD provision. Citizenship and democracy education is too precious to leave to chance. We know it works best in schools which give the subject status, curriculum time and where teaching is led by a specialist trained teacher. We welcome these recommendations and look forward to the Government's response'.
ACT's evidence is available online. Liz gave oral evidence along with ACT teacher member Ryan Mason from Addey and Stanhope School in Lewisham and ACT Chair, Scott Harrison. ACT members and other teachers across the country responded to a survey on the status of Citizenship education in schools to inform this evidence.
ACT also holds the Chair of the Expert Subject Advisory Group for Citizenship, founded in 2013 to provide the DFE with strategic advice on Citizenship.
ACT is a member of the Political Literacy Oversight Group which advises the APPG on Democratic Participation.