Crick Centre Leads Debate on Citizenship

Posted on October 24th, 2017 by Carl Jackson

On the 18th of October, Crick Centre research associate James Weinberg appeared before the House of Lords ad hoc Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement to give oral evidence on the topic of citizenship education.

 

Weinberg spoke to the full committee alongside fellow witnesses Avril Keating (Senior Lecturer in Comparative Social Science, UCL Institute of Education), Liz Moorse (Senior Manager, Association for Citizenship Teaching), and Mr Tom Franklin (CEO, Citizenship Foundation).

Drawing upon research he conducted with teachers from more than 60 schools in England last year, Weinberg argued that a) non-specialists with teaching responsibility for citizenship education do not have a shared understanding of citizenship and the purpose of citizenship education; b) there is a distinct gap between academic work on good pedagogy for citizenship education and classroom practice due to an absence of initial teacher training (ITT) and/or continued professional development (CPD) opportunities; c) citizenship education continues to be sorely neglected and/or ignored in state secondary schools and national education policy; and d) where citizenship is taught, it is delivered with individualistic and inward looking political conceptions of ‘good’ rather than ‘active’ citizenship. On the final point, Weinberg was heavily critical of the Government’s focus on character education through whole school projects like ‘Fundamental British Values’ and extra-curricular investments such as the National Citizens Service. Similar sentiments were echoed by the rest of the panel.

The evidence session was fast-paced and questions from the committee pushed the witnesses to comment on topics as wide-ranging as international best practice and lifelong learning. Commenting after the session, Weinberg hoped ‘that the committee will take seriously the issue of citizenship education as the cornerstone of a ‘civic journey’ in their final report. In particular, I would like to see this committee make explicit recommendations to the Government that will prioritise citizenship education as a policy commitment that is resourced effectively, including formal programmes of assessment, Ofsted inspections of school delivery, and expanded teaching training initiatives.’ A recording of the session will remain temporarily available on ParliamentLive.

Crick Centre associate researcher Indra Mangule has also been involved in setting up a workshop for the Orwell Youth Prize. The Orwell Youth Prize aims to increase young people’s confidence in writing and encourage their engagement with politics and current affairs, as well as to widen participation in higher education. The workshop will work towards these aims, bringing together students with inspirational and well acclaimed writers to encourage them to thinking critically and express their views in creative ways.

The Youth Event will be led by the acclaimed novelist Marina Lewycka. Her works have been translated in 35 languages and received many literary awards and her novel Two Caravans was short-listed for the 2008 Orwell Prize for political writing.

More on the Orwell Lecture in the North

After nearly 20 years, Orwell lecture in the North will return to Sheffield this November with Grayson Perry delivering a lecture titled ‘I’ve read all the academic texts on empathy’. In the lecture he will talk about an artist’s take on our emotions about politics. For more information on the event, follow this link.

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