House of Lords Debate on Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee Report
Members of the House of Lords debated the government's response to the Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee report yesterday (19 November 2018). Transcript available on Hansard.
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts introduced the debate and referred to the government's response to recommendation 16 (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.) as disappointing - "First, the Government have used a commitment not to make any changes to the curriculum during the current Parliament as a reason for not pushing forward on this issue, and secondly, they pointed out that the Department for Education “does not specify how schools teach citizenship as a subject”. This approach has resulted in the uneven and unsatisfactory approach to this critical subject, about which our committee was very unhappy."
Lord Blunkett of Brightside, ACT's honorary President, highlighted the government's agreement to introduce Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE) for Citizenship and asked why this commitment has not yet been taken forward and why the DFE website continues to omit Citizenship from the list of subjects eligible for SLE. This point was also raised by Baroness Lister of Burtersett. SLEs for Citizenship gives existing, experienced teachers recognition and status for the work they do and encourages the sharing of practice among other schools.
Lord Norton of Louth focused on the part of the report that deals with Citizenship education and reaffirmed that, for Citizenship education to be taught effectively, it has to be taught by qualified teachers, it needs to be distinctive and taught as a discrete subject, and that it needs to be taken seriously by schools. He asked:
- Can my noble friend Lord Bourne tell us what steps the Government are taking to bolster the number of trained citizenship teachers? By what date does he think it will be possible to meet the committee’s recommendation of having a citizenship specialist in every secondary school?
- What steps are the Government taking to ensure that it is taught as a discrete subject?
- Can my noble friend tell us what incentives the Government plan to introduce to ensure that schools take seriously their responsibility for delivering citizenship education?