Teachers disdain to put their snouts in MPs' trough

15th May 2009 at 01:00

It has made headlines. It has caused widespread outrage. It has shaken both the Labour and Conservative parties. And now the scandal over MPs' expenses claims is threatening to cause a constitutional crisis in the classroom.

Citizenship teachers are struggling to teach pupils the value of democracy and good governance while MPs repeatedly demonstrate their own tenuous grasp of the topics.

In a letter to The TES, Philippa Wadsworth, a citizenship teacher in Cornwall, said: "We are expected to engender a sense of morality and honesty ... It is so difficult when those in charge of our country set such an appalling example."

Tony Breslin, chief executive of the Citizenship Foundation, agrees. "Often, in the citizenship classroom, one is already dealing with scepticism about political practices," he said. "And that's not made easier by the current debate.

"We have to turn this around, so pupils see that how we fund, support and remunerate our politicians is rightly a subject for public debate."

Contributors to The TES online staffroom argue the scandal has relevance beyond citizenship classes. One offered a lesson in metaphor: "Every time I took a Biro from the stock cupboards, I wondered if I should take a boxful. My conscience only allowed me to take what I needed. Anything else would have been stealing. We've allowed MPs the keys to the stock cupboard."

Letters, page 34-35.

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