Crisis in teaching citizenship

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:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2016.

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.

Advertisements

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Crisis in teaching citizenship

  1. Dean B says:

    “The select committee recommended that the Government establish a target of having enough trained citizenship teachers to have a citizenship specialist in every school.”

    Did the committee make recommendations as to how this could be achieved? The two most obvious routes to me are a) get more qualified teachers to gain relevant citizenship qualifications, or b) make it easier for those who already have relevant qualifications but are not teachers to become so. The latter option seems an easier route to me (as there is a clear incentive for the individual, as well as the school). I once briefly looked at the option of becoming a teacher, and immediately saw that the time and cost involved made it absolutely out of the question for someone like me, who can earn a much better living in the private sector (I am in IT, where there is a similar shortage in teachers with relevent qualifications and/or experience). I would suggest that this would be the best area to concentrate on – making it simpler, quicker and cheaper for experienced and qualified individuals in society to become teachers. Every few years one reads about proposals for “fast track” teacher training schemes, but clearly they either never get to implementation stage or still do not work effectively enough.

    • Croft says:

      “making it simpler, quicker and cheaper for experienced and qualified individuals in society to become teachers. Every few years one reads about proposals for “fast track” teacher training schemes, but clearly they either never get to implementation stage or still do not work effectively enough.”

      Sadly Dean much of the teaching establishment/DfE/unions and 2 of the 3 main parties would die in the last ditch to prevent this. The Closed Shop in new clothes.

      Looking at that list, it was much as I expected, though the engineering was especially depressing. Given the massive oversupply of media studies degree students the fact that it has few qualified teachers was slightly amusing.

      @LN”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.”

      I have mixed feeling on this. I can see the point you make although I have met excellent ‘unqualified’ teachers (an indeed unis are full of Guest lecturers and Visiting Professors – many of whom have no degree qualification) who are are good as any

  2. maude elwes says:

    LN this is one of the top threads you have added to your blog that I have seen. I have for a very long time been exasperated by undisciplined and ludicrously low levels the British state educational system has dropped to.

    However, this situation is not something that just happened, it is multi faceted, systemic and deliberate over many decades and all those in our parliament know it. If it was only connected to this particular part of our educational output, the seriousness would not be so chilling, but it isn’t. I could write a thesis on it, starting with the imperative need for those in power to be ruthless in their search for truth and exposure as to why this drop in educational standard was allowed to fester as it has. Is that likely? I doubt it.

  3. maud elwes says:

    Will our newly trained teachers also be familiar with the EU requirement for all children to receive not only an honourable education in citizenship but the additional higher level of human biology as listed in the link here taken from the Debating Europe website?

    https://redice.tv/news/germany-and-eu-to-legalize-pedophilia-and-with-it-child-pornography-as-well

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s