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Citizenship: Curriculum

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Stafford on 23 October 2007, Official Report, column 213W, on the curriculum: citizenship, (1) how many one day regional training events (a) have taken place and (b) are planned to take place in 2008 in order to support the addition of the new strand to citizenship teaching; and how many citizenship teachers he estimates will attend these events; (197554)

(2) who has been appointed national subject lead for citizenship; and how this person plans to promote citizenship.

Nine regional events (one per Government office region) have been delivered in 2008 in order to support citizenship teaching. 617 local authority representatives and subject leaders for citizenship attended these events. A follow up event is planned for June 2008, when around 50 subject leaders for citizenship are expected to attend.

A further 234 support opportunities will be delivered by regional subject advisors for citizenship to individual schools or groups of schools, according to local need. We estimate that a minimum of 700 citizenship teachers and subject leaders will benefit from this support. Finally, on-line support materials are available to all citizenship teachers across the country.

The national subject lead for citizenship is Mr. Pete Pattisson. In order to promote citizenship, Mr. Pattisson has led on the development of the on-line support materials (including video case studies) and on the delivery of the nine regional events for citizenship teachers. Mr. Pattisson acts as the coordinator of the network of regional subject advisors for citizenship and provides a point of contact for all parties interested in the place of citizenship in the new curriculum.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what plans he has to improve the coverage of citizenship in schools, with particular reference to the coverage of political literacy, as referred to in the National Foundation for Educational Research report Vision versus pragmatism; (197559)

(2) how many teachers teach citizenship in secondary schools; and how many of these are specialists in the subject;

(3) with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney) on 23 October 2007, Official Report, column 213W, on the curriculum: citizenship, what steps he plans to take to raise the status of citizenship with head teachers;

(4) how many schools deliver citizenship courses through discrete classes.

We are committed to improving the coverage of citizenship education and the quality of citizenship teaching within the school curriculum. Citizenship has been a statutory national curriculum subject since 2002. The recent review of secondary education provided an opportunity to look at the clarity of teaching requirements for this subject alongside all the other subjects in the national curriculum. The new secondary curriculum for citizenship was published in August 2007 for first teaching from September 2008. We are developing a new, full GCSE and A-level in citizenship studies, in response to demand.

The 2002 Secondary School Curriculum and Staffing Survey (SSCSS) estimated that there were around 9,000 teachers of citizenship in maintained secondary schools, with 6 per cent. of them holding a post A-level qualification in the subject.

Over 200 new specialist citizenship teachers are trained every year through initial teacher training courses (PGCEs) to teach in secondary schools. A programme of continuing professional development (CPD) was launched in 2006, in collaboration with higher education institutions across the country. The five-day course is free for teachers to access. It requires teachers to meet high standards for teaching citizenship in schools, with a particular focus on imparting knowledge and understanding of the subject area. We have made available 600 places a year in 2007-08. We have also funded the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT), established in 2003, which provides a focus for professional development among teachers and advice, training and support for schools.

Citizenship education makes an important contribution to developing young people’s political literacy. It enables them to improve their understanding and develop skills of democratic participation while helping them to appreciate that they have a stake in society. Young people are taught about democratic institutions, processes and the importance of voting. We are keen to encourage active learning so that young people start early to experience democracy in action. We are also working with the Royal Geographical Society and the Historical Association to develop resources and support for schools for a new ‘Who Do We Think We Are?’ week in schools, which will provide a focus for activity around diversity and identify and offer schools the chance to explore these issues collectively.

DCSF guidance to schools on their new duty to promote to community cohesion (July 2007) highlights the importance of citizenship education and we have reinforced this message to heads through nine regional conferences and a resource pack for schools being produced in association with the Institute of Community Cohesion, due for publication in April. We will continue to look for ways to emphasise the importance of citizenship to school leaders.

Schools have developed various ways of delivering citizenship in the curriculum: as a discrete subject; within personal, social and health education (PSHE); as citizenship across the curriculum; and through days when the normal timetable is suspended. We do not collect data on how many schools deliver citizenship through discrete classes.