The Big Question: Why are teachers shunning citizenship training?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world.

This week’s question: Why are teachers shunning citizenship training?

There is a low take-up of citizenship training by teachers, says a new report by Ofsted.

More than half of training providers struggle to find teachers to attend citizenship courses and three institutions had to stop running courses because of lack of subscription.
Citizenship training covers areas such as critical thinking, global education, political literacy and controversial topics.

Up to two-thirds of training providers are insufficiently funded and cannot cover the cost of a supply teacher to replace teachers attending the course. The Department for Children, Schools and Families provides funding for citizenship training.

Additionally, there has been no increase in the number of PGCE applicants for citizenship courses since last year, despite an overall 14% increase in ITT applications, says Professor John Howson of Education Data Surveys. There are fewer jobs around for those who do sign up to the course, although the situation is better in London and the South East, he adds.

Why are teachers shunning citizenship training? Here are some views from the education community:

“Personally, I feel that citizenship is a ” hot potato “, a subject invented by politicians to “rein” us all in and ,although I am delighted to see that it contains critical thinking, I wonder how many of us free thinkers could really deliver political literacy with conviction ! There is so much corruption in politics and in the global education situation ( look at the banking crisis and ensuing mess ) that I could not follow the script ! How can we make children responsible citizens when they see the role models that 21st century political life offers?”
Susan M Coles, arts, creativity and educational consultant, secondary, from Washington Tyne and Wear

“While most teachers might accept that the areas covered in citizenship may be important, for many who find it on their timetable, it is not the subject that they were trained to teach and they may be required to teach only a few lessons a week as they are not specialists. Therefore, the training is not seen as important for their professional development. The subject will be taught effectively when there are teachers who have chosen to teach it and have been trained as specialists and can see the worth of continuing professional development in the subject.”
Carol Hall, coordinator for MFL and AST, secondary phase

“I feel that teachers shun what is potentially an important plank of pupils’ education because there isn’t a target for it and the targets take priority. Why would you do citizenship training? It is not going to raise your 5 A to Cs up to floor targets.”
Alan Watkins-Groves, English intervention teacher, secondary.

Please share your views below.


Previous big questions:
Should trainee teachers spend more time with special needs children?
Is £10,000 the answer to teacher retention?
Does teacher training need to change?
Do the recommendations in the Rose report go far enough?