Letters extra: Give Citizenship a chance

25th July 2003 at 01:00

In recent years, the TES has done much to support the development of Citizenship education.nbsp; However, the tone of Karen Gold's articles - "Beware firms bearing gifts" and "Do some see new subject as a joke?" ( TES , 4 July) - is a disappointment.

It is absolutely correct to say that the success of Citizenship in secondary schools will depend on how seriously senior management teams treat it, how good the quality of initial and on-going teacher training is and how strong the supporting resources are.nbsp; However, the introduction of a new subject into the curriculum, especially one that draws on the social, legal, political and economic aspects of learning, is bound to be a challenging and difficult exercise -nbsp;a marathon rather than a sprint.

Contrary to press reports, the recent Ofsted report, the initial findings of the NFER eight-year evaluation study, and QCA's own monitoring, all identify excellent practice in a range of schools, support amongst the profession (Ofsted found only one teacher who opposed the introduction of Citizenship) and pointers towards the most effective strategies.nbsp; But, of course, each of the reports also suggests that there is still much to do.nbsp;That is what we should expect, barely one academic year after its introduction. Too often, we condemn the apparent early failings of reforms and cry "all change" before they have had any chance to mature and become embedded in schools' and teachers' practice.nbsp; Let us not fall into that trap with Citizenship.nbsp;

The Government's commitment to this long-term evaluation exercise confirms that Citizenship is no passing fad. The crisis of political and community engagement in this country which first prompted Sir Bernard Crick's landmark 1998 report, Education for Citizenship and the Teaching of Democracy in Schools , demands that we do not let it become one.nbsp;Constructively critical early reports must be used to refine and promote the teaching and learning of citizenship rather than to write it off.

Tony Breslin
Chief Executive, Citizenship Foundation

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