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23 December, 2005

Bell encourages citizenship development

David Bell, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools reflected on the success and validity of citizenship teaching, and identified areas in need of development, in a speech at the Barclays New Futures Conference. The speech was given on 15 November and focused on ‘citizenship through participation and reasonable action’.

Bell commended the committed schools who have confirmed that, when given the time and resources citizenship is both feasible and beneficial.

“Citizenship can provide pupils with the knowledge and skills that will help them make informed choices, and develop an awareness of the attitudes and values that they need to consider as they come to terms with a changing world.” David Bell

However, Bell’s Annual Report showed that one fifth of schools have an unsatisfactory citizenship programme and that many others only fulfil a few elements of the curriculum. Furthermore, citizenship is less well taught than other subjects and is less well established in the curriculum.

Bell concluded by identifying methods which will improve the provision of citizenship teaching. He urged the Department for Education and Skills to develop their in-service training programme for citizenship teachers, and for the Training and Development Agency for Schools to evaluate if there are enough new citizenship teachers entering the profession each year. He called on teachers to ‘sharpen their expertise’ by making use of resources produced by the voluntary sector, and for complacent schools to develop their citizenship agenda. Finally, Bell made a plea to individuals:

“I urge those pupils who feel that their school is providing an inadequate level of citizenship education to point out that the opportunity to learn citizenship is not only their statutory entitlement but a vital part of the education that they deserve.” David Bell.

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