Our goal is to empower young people to become next generation of active citizens, equipped to thrive in society and deal with the complexity of the world around them.
As political issues are at the heart of understanding modern citizenship and society, we think it is important to respond to Nadhim Zawahi’s new guidance on impartiality in the classroom.
We welcomed the attention to the teaching of political issues and know this was meant to support teachers. But we also know our network wants to see more direct support.
Citizenship is key
We would urge the Government to recognise that schools and educational groups are calling out for support through training, funded services and schemes of work that support great citizenship education. We hope they recognise through the many responses and reactions to the guidance that it may unnecessarily affect educators’ confidence in delivering this education.
This could be catastrophic, with teachers being scared to engage with issues head on, if at all. Young people would be denied the necessary safe space to explore their own viewpoints, build analytical skills and awareness of the full complexity that comes with understanding political issues.
Teachers already take the issue of impartiality very seriously. But if we want to improve the way political issues are taught in classrooms, the government needs to invest in support and training, not re-stated DfE advice. Unfortunately, this sends a message of “don’t dare misstep”.
Many educators will park these conversations or simplify them, undermining opportunities for learning, safe discussion space and exposure to critical thinking. These conversations are fundamental to citizenship and every young person’s education, so we are here to help make sure those can happen for every young person.
– Ashley Hodges, CEO, Young Citizens
How can Young Citizens help teachers?
Our network will know we are a non-partisan charity that is here to help educators of all types, from the classroom to youth clubs, introduce inspiring, topical and balanced citizenship education. We provide educators with reliable classroom resources, specialised training and programmes that provide immersive experiences of citizenship – from social action projects to our Mock Trials competition.
We believe the essence of citizenship teaching is to provide a framework for balanced discussions on the biggest issues. Our services have been created with this balance in mind, and to equip even new teachers with a ready-made, tested framework that brings political, legal, social and democratic issues to life as a part of a strong citizenship education at all levels.
- Primary Schools. We aim to help all types of educators have good starting points with their youngest pupils for important conversations on our society, shared values and our role in our community. You can sign up for our completely free library of resources here, even if you are not a school teacher: Primary Classroom Resources or, for youth-led learning see the Make a Difference Challenge and social action programmes.
- Secondary Schools. We know students are bringing tough questions on real issues to teachers today. Our resources for older students help create constructive and proactive frameworks to bring topical debates into the classrooms. Whether discussing what the law has to do with the climate crisis, or the ethics of social media and tech, our workshops and lesson plans are freely available and adaptable for different education systems.
These programmes help teachers more easily incorporate key concepts such as democracy, British values, the rule of law and cultural awareness in a way that is relevant to learning outcomes.
They also provide a structured learning approach that equips teachers to broach complex issues that can come up when discussing topics like the climate crisis and cultural identities in the UK.
In other words, our work brings the outside world into the laps of our young citizens so they can hear other viewpoints and form their own by thinking critically.
We want to hear from you
How can we help you and your teachers better deliver strong conversations and teaching on political issues? Get in touch by responding to these questions.
Citizenship, and political literacy within it, is a skill that must be built through practice and action; like a muscle, it will atrophy without the chance to flex and use it. We hope you will let us know how we can continue to support you in this.