Too few teachers enrolling on citizenship courses, despite the overall good quality, says Ofsted
A new study published today by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) shows that over half the institutions offering citizenship courses for teachers are struggling to fill places, with three courses failing to get the numbers to run the course altogether.
The report, Professional development for citizenship teachers and leaders, finds the impact of citizenship courses on schools is good or outstanding, with a positive overall effect on a school’s ethos and pupils’ understanding.
Previous Ofsted reports have identified the need for more courses in how to teach citizenship, a national curriculum subject. Citizenship training may include work on topics such as political literacy, critical thinking, global education, partnerships with non-government organisations and how to teach controversial topics.
The survey shows five out of six teachers significantly improved their professional knowledge and understanding as a result of participation in citizenship courses.
Despite this in 2006/07, while 17 higher education institutions offered to run accredited courses for up to 540 course places, only 284 participants were recruited. Figures in 2007/08 were similarly low.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said:
'I am pleased that more courses are now available in how to teach citizenship and that their overall quality is good or outstanding. Schools should consider how to make use of these courses to further support the improvement of teaching in this national curriculum subject.'
The report finds four-fifths of citizenship courses focus on ways of teaching the subject in schools. The best courses were those that gave participants a good balance between taught sessions and self-study, and ample time for discussion and debate.
Good courses also had useful systems for analysing participants’ learning needs, with learners asked to assess their subject knowledge against the national curriculum on the citizenship programme. Participants used these assessments as a way of guiding their independent work as well as their discussions in tutorials.
The demands of the course outside the taught lessons were sometimes greater than participants were able to meet. As a result of this, some learners gave up, even though they were very positive about the opportunity to learn.
Ofsted recommends that:
The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Training and Development Agency for Schools should consider how to develop courses and routes that are attractive to and reach a far greater number of teachers and schools while maintaining the strengths of the citizenship CPD Certificate.
Local authorities should strengthen their involvement in CPD provision.
Course providers should provide schools and potential participants with clear information on course components, assessment and accreditation arrangements, so that they know the implications of these.
Schools should maximise the benefits of teachers’ attendance by discussing and supporting the action plans resulting from the training undertaken. They should also seek to recruit teachers with an initial teacher education qualification in citizenship, and develop the expertise of existing teachers through the citizenship CPD Certificate or Masters level accreditation.
Notes for Editors
1. The report Professional development for citizenship teachers and leaders can be found on the Ofsted website www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/070253.
2. A team of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) evaluated 15 courses provided by 14 providers of higher education institutions. Of these, 13 were taught courses and two used distance learning.
3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects registered childcare and children's social care, including adoption and fostering agencies, residential schools, family centres and homes for children. It also inspects all state maintained schools, non-association independent schools, pupil referral units, further education, initial teacher education, and publicly funded adult skills and employment-based training, the Children and Family Courts Advisory Service (Cafcass), and the overall level of services for children in local authority areas (through annual performance assessments and joint area reviews).
4. The Ofsted Press Office can be contacted on 08456 404040 between 8am – 6pm Monday – Friday. During evenings and weekends we can be reached on 07919 057359.