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10th Nov 2021 12:59pm News

Reflecting on the Sustainable Citizenship Conference 2021

Over the course of three days we had rich debate, bags of ideas and have been left inspired by facilitators and by attendee contributions.

It was fantastic to be joined by so many partners, champions and teachers over the course of the three day Sustainable Citizenship Conference with UK Parliament in November. It was also great to launch ACT’s 20th anniversary of supporting Citizenship education in schools nationwide and be part of Parliament Week.

Over a hundred participants registered for each of the themed days – with many attending all three sessions. The event appealed to colleagues from Malaysia, Canada and Brazil as well as those right across the UK. The responses have been equally impressive, with 100% of attendees rating the event either Good (21%) or Excellent (79%). The wider impact of embedding the skills and knowledge developed from the conference will directly impact over 2,500 pupils and 600 teachers.

The lineup of speakers was excellent and included a good mix of personal subject knowledge and teacher focussed sessions. Overall I was massively impressed with this free CPD on such an important issue at the moment.

Sustainable Citizenship Conference

Superbly organised with a variety of inspiring teachers who believe in putting active citizenship at the heart of education.

Sustainable Citizenship Conference

We were delighted to be joined by Lord Knight who shared his ambitions for building a new kind of Citizenship with programmes of study that will:

“Encourage learning to protect and restore the natural environment for present and future generations, including but not limited to climate change considerations. That’s that’s what the bill seeks do…a no brainer why wouldn’t we want to do that!”

On Friday it was a great pleasure to hear former Education Secretary Lord Blunkett speak of his pride in being ACT’s President. He spoke passionately about Headteachers needing to place greater emphasis on Citizenship education.

“Citizenship education into the heart of their schools because, citizenship education, that an understanding of how the world works of how power is exercised how people can have influence, both as citizens and as consumers, is crucial to the lifeblood of education itself”

He also spoke about the role of politicians in leading change in society on matters of climate change.

“How crucial it is that we protect democratic fabric and the things that really are crucial to our survival as a planet in terms of our climate, but the survival of our way of doing things in terms of a participated, open, transparent democracy where we can rebuild trust in those who have the privilege and it is a privilege of representing the public, both in the House of Commons directly and in my case in the House of Lords.”

The Rt Hon. Lord Blunkett

We were fortunate to have partnered with our friends at the UK Parliament Education and Engagement team, opening up access to experts across the parliamentary processes; we were joined by speakers who were able to develop our knowledge of private member bills, committees, and give guidance on how to effectively engage pupils with Parliament.

Finally, our Ambassadors delivered teaching sessions around embedding the themes of sustainability and law making in the classroom, highlighting the key citizenship concepts, sharing ideas on how to engage pupils in these areas, whilst also introducing lessons they have developed to support the teaching of sustainability issues; which are now available for download.

It’s a really exciting time for Citizenship with a greater number of connections being made to the subject’s role, value and relevance in addressing the challenges we face in society now, as well as how we can better prepare future generations as informed and active citizens.

In addition to our conference, there were other notable wins with the inaugural Political Literacy Day, and the Education Secretary’s announcement to create a world leading Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy over the forthcoming months. Having supported Lord Knight’s Environment and Sustainable Citizenship Education Bill, it was particularly pleasing to hear that these ideas seem to have influenced national policy decisions, which were announced on the global stage at COP26. Furthermore, the Secretary of State, Nadhim Zahawi highlighted the special role of Citizenship education.

ACT is working with the DFE and the other subject associations for Geography and Science to take forward this agenda and we look forward to supporting schools with resources and CPD to help ensure every child receives high-quality climate and sustainability education through Citizenship.