Dr Hugh Starkey discusses two pilot CPD courses, part of a new DfES initiative on citizenship.

The training gap

How many trained teachers of citizenship do we need? One in each of the 3,500 or so maintained secondary schools in England might be a good start. How many do we have? No one is counting, but since 2001-02 the existence of secondary PGCE courses with citizenship means that there may be something over 1,000 trained teachers from this route. Judging by my former PGCE citizenship students, perhaps two-thirds of them are actually teaching citizenship in maintained schools in England. There could well be 2,500 secondary schools where citizenship teaching is undertaken by competent, hard-working volunteers who have picked it up as they go along.

The DfES response

Is this a problem? The DfES identifies it as an issue that needs addressing. Rather than increase the number of PGCE students, the department is looking to a CPD strategy, as announced in the April 2005 issue of PSHE & Citizenship Update. The approach is cautious. First the DfES commissioned a research study (Warwick et al, 2004). This recommended a programme building on the certification scheme for PSHE teachers. In stage two the DfES commissioned four pilot programmes to test different CPD models. These took place in 2005 and are currently being evaluated. Three of the programmes were taught at regional centres: Manchester, Birmingham or London. The fourth, for which I was responsible, provided a distance learning course, accessible to teachers anywhere in the country.


The Certificate of Teaching Citizenship will be awarded to teachers who demonstrate achievement of newly formulated standards for teachers of citizenship, drawn up by the DfES. Following the recommendation of the research report, this is based on providing a portfolio of evidence. The Institute of Education, University of London provided two pilot programmes. Both offer teachers a short taught course at Master’s level, followed by support in compiling and presenting a portfolio of evidence.

The taught course

The taught course, Learning, Teaching and Assessment in Citizenship, is a module of our MA Citizenship Education, tutored in the taught version by Jeremy Hayward and developed and tutored as an online distance-learning version by myself. The pilot included about 25 teachers on the two courses, which ran in the spring term (taught) and summer term (distance) 2005. Following completion of the module, we provided additional support, including personal and group tuition by Don Rowe of the Citizenship Foundation, to enable candidates to demonstrate that they had met the DfES standards.

By the end of the taught module we expected participants to have:

  • a clear and critical appreciation of the goals of citizenship education
  • an understanding of the main theories of teaching and learning and models of assessment in citizenship education
  • knowledge of key research findings, academic writing and policies in the field
  • reflected critically on the implications of theory, research and policy for citizenship education
  • acquired a conceptual basis for further work, an acquaintance with recent research in the field, and competence and confidence in academic study.

Participants clearly valued this taught course. One wrote: ‘Extremely illuminating. I have learned a lot and just wish I had completed the course last year before becoming a citizenship coordinator.’ For another: ‘One of the joys of this course is the way that it has forced me to analyse exactly what I am doing with my students and why.’ The purpose of the course must be to influence classroom practice and this occurred: ‘A lot of what I have read… will permeate into the lessons I teach pupils. The readings have given me the comprehension that is necessary to be able to teach these lessons confidently.’ Advanced teachers too acknowledged the benefits. An AST wrote: ‘I have found the course really beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it has given me the opportunity to consider more closely why I believe citizenship education is so important.’

Learning at a distance

In the distance version, students were part of an online community using a web-based virtual learning environment (VLE). Participants discussed course tasks, provided concrete examples of their own work and in assignments applied the learning to their classroom situation. Distance learning participants received a module handbook, a study guide, the module reader and two course texts, Teacher Education and Human Rights and Changing Citizenship: Democracy and Inclusion in Education. Course materials and other resources were also available electronically on the VLE.

What we learned

The main lesson is that the taught course is indispensable, but that it needs to be tied in more closely to the portfolio building. In future we will run the two dimensions simultaneously. In the distance learning mode, teachers need more time so we will spread the course over a full academic year.

What next?

A second face-to-face pilot ran in London from January 2006. The distance learning version was available again in September. Details of Institute of Education courses in Citizenship Education can be found at www.ioe.ac.uk by entering ‘citizenship’ in the search box.

Recommended reading

Osler, A and Starkey, H (1996) Teacher Education and Human Rights. London: David Fulton Publishers.

Osler, A and Starkey, H (2005) Changing Citizenship: Democracy and Inclusion in Education. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Warwick, I, Rivers, K and Aggleton, P (2004) Developing a Programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Citizenship. London: Department for Education and Skills www.dfes.gov.uk/research.

Dr Hugh Starkey is senior lecturer at the Institute of Education and programme leader for the MA Citizenship Education by distance learning. He is author of Education for Democratic Citizenship: A Review of Research, Policy and Practice 1995-2005, available at: www.bera.ac.uk/publications/academicreviews.php