In an earlier post, I drew attention to the problems faced in secondary schools in teaching citizenship. I quoted from the report of the Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement, The Ties that Bind: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in the 21st Century, in which it concluded: ‘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.’
Given the seriousness of the issue, I tabled a question asking how many teachers of citizenship in secondary school were qualified to teach the subject. The minister, Lord Agnew of Oulton, provided a very full answer, and credit to him for doing so. It is chilling:
Lord Agnew of Oulton:
In November 2016 there were 4,800 teachers in state funded secondary schools teaching citizenship. Of these we estimate that 8.7% had a relevant post A level qualification in the subject. A relevant post A level qualification is defined as a first degree or higher, BEd degree, PGCE, Certificate of Education or any other qualification at National Qualifications Framework level 4 or above in either citizenship, international relations, international, EU or UK politics or political theory.
There are also 10.6% of citizenship teachers with post A level qualification in history that prepare teachers well for teaching British citizenship.
The source of this information is the annual school workforce census. The census collects the post A level qualifications of teachers and the curriculum taught by teachers for around 75% of secondary schools. As the return is incomplete and the number of citizenship teachers is fairly small there is some uncertainty around the proportion provided and therefore we estimate there may be a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2%.
Information on post A level qualifications held by teachers, in the subject they teach, is published in Table 12 of the school workforce in England statistical publication. This is attached and available at the following link:
The data for November 2017 is expected to be published in June 2018.
Table_12_Highest_post_A_Level_qualifications (PDF Document, 47.5 KB)
Even if one includes those with post A level qualifications in history, there are still approximately eight out of every ten citizenship teachers who are not deemed to have relevant post A-level qualifications. The select committee recommended that the Government establish a target of having enough trained citizenship teachers to have a citizenship specialist in every school. These data show we are nowhere near achieving that.
As I argued in my previous post, citizenship education matters. It can contribute significantly to the health of our political system. Yet there are no strong incentives for schools to take it seriously. Utilising teachers who have no relevant qualifications to take citizenship classes has the potential to be worse than not having any classes at all. The situation is far worse than I expected. Until schools have reason to take it seriously, it is not likely to get better any time soon.