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28 September, 2006

Citizenship improving, but still inadequate says Ofsted

The Citizenship Foundation welcomes the renewed focus today’s Ofsted report “Towards consensus? Citizenship in secondary schools” brings to citizenship education. We need now to go further and launch a fully funded and adequately resourced National Strategy for Teaching and Learning in Citizenship

The report states, “The teaching of citizenship is improving and there are now better opportunities for training, but in around 25% of schools inspected in 2005/6 the provision was found to be inadequate.” It highlights the importance, but present lack of, specialist teachers in the classroom and reiterates the need for citizenship to be taught as a subject as well as permeating the whole school ethos.

The report goes on to point out the successes of citizenship education and examples of best practice. Ofsted’s Director of Education, Miriam Rosen said: “We have seen enough good practice to know that citizenship education can be successful. This good practice needs to be replicated more widely. It is important that lessons learned over the last four years lead to improvement.”

But she went on to warn that “Citizenship is still seen as the poor relation of more established subjects but it requires teachers to be highly skilled and able to deal with contentious and sometimes difficult issues.

“Urgent attention is needed to make sure it is a central part of the school curriculum and ethos.”

Chief executive, Tony Breslin said “This report echoes a number of the key recommendations outlined in our submission to the Education and Skills Select Committee earlier this year: the need to raise the status of citizenship education, both nationally and within schools, the need for better training and resources for teachers, and the need for more specialist teachers in schools. The need is to go further and launch a National Strategy in Teaching and Learning in Citizenship in order to make these recommendations a reality.”

He added “Citizenship isn’t just a new subject, it’s a new type of subject and one that requires an expertise as well honed as that for anything else in the curriculum. The report highlights that where citizenship has been given a chance to thrive it has been an overwhelming success in schools and for the students.”

“The message is clearly one of improving practice in the majority of schools and excellent practice in some: where schools visibly identify citizenship in the timetable AND in the life of the school, where they manage and resource provision adequately and where they support teachers through appropriate CPD, the outcomes benefit not just schools and students but the society we all live in."

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