The Future of My Teaching Specialism

Despite the apparent set backs from austerity funding cuts and a negative attitude from Government, the present situation is far from the end of Citizenship Education.

Since the 1960’s Governments have wished to encourage people to take an interest in their communities and become active as volunteers.  The Community Development Projects of that decade, for instance, were specifically to address how such activism could assist in the regeneration of neighbourhoods that had declined.  Ledwith (2011) highlights the needed soultion to this predicament was presented by the likes of the Gulbenkian Foundation which advocated devolving needed resources and power to these communities so they could make decisions on how best to improve themselves.  This, however, was flatly rejected by the Labour Government as it regarded such talk as too “political” and thus created a false divide between “community  politics” on the one hand and “community development” on the other that largely hampered efforts for a long time afterwards.

This theme was picked up again during the 1980’s by the Conservative Government as part of further regeneration work such as the Urban Programme, City Challenge and the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB).  All of these initiatives accepted the need to focus on a specific geographical area and to involve residents in the shaping of programmes of work.  By the time the SRB programme was launched, resident-led programmes were being tested and so both funding and some degree of authority was beginning to be devolved to the affected communities.  An example in Bradford would be the Royds Community Association which was a not-for-profit company with a majority of its board elected by local residents in the area of the programme.  The Royds managed an SRB round one programme covering the Buttershaw, Delph Hill and Woodside area and was regarded for a long time as an exemplar SRB venture.

The Labour administrations from 1997 through until 2010 also carried on with this theme of resident-led regeneration through programmes such as the New Deal for Communities (NDfC), Neighbourhood Renewal and the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative.  Thus, the idea of engendering active communities as part of regenerating deprived areas had become mainstream thinking.

Alongside this, the Local Government and Rating act 1997 introduced a new right for communities to demand the setting up of parish councils in order to devolve some further power to the grass-roots level.  This process was streamlined and extended into Greater London with the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health act 2007 which also allowed parish councils to be called “village councils”, “neighbourhood councils” and “community councils”.  Parish councils began to be accepted as legacy bodies after a programme regeneration work was completed so there was a resident-led and accountable body remaining in the area to continue to organise and deliver improvements.  In Bradford, the NDfC programme Bradford Trident was succeeded with the Bradford Trident Community Council as an example of this approach.

There are no more area-based regeneration programmes under the Coalition Government.  However, their Localism Act 2011 has introduced a number of community rights that to some extent devolve more power down to the neighbourhood level and can even be exercised by a recognised community organisation instead of a parish council.  These include over the planning process, registering assets of community value so the neighbourhood can have an opportunity to buy them out if they are sold or changed, and neighbourhoods taking over the running of local authority services.  The age of the active citizen and community-led initiatives therefore seems to be here to stay.

And whilst Government funding for Citizenship and Community Education may be on the down there will continue to be other opportunities.  Non-charitable trusts such as the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust and the Edge Fund all exist to promote radical, grass-roots action.  Even apparently mainstream funders such as the Big Lottery Fund have been prepared to some extent to fund community ventures which encourage people to campaign and affect change, even if this is sometimes regarded as political, so long as it is not extreme or party political.

Neighbourhood Ventures particularly has an opportunity to build on its pilot scheme which to date has proved to be successful.  It has already developed some good relatons with the small grant providers that have given funding this time and it may be able to convince those and others to continue to fund its work and possibly increase the level of grant aid so as to employ at least one member of staff to build its capacity.  Attached to this posting is a copy of an Action Plan considering a way forward from the SWOT analysis and other issues in this blog.

Thus, the landscape may be changing, the Government may be hostile and there may be fewer funding opportunities out there, but Citizenship Education will survive and continue into the future.  As such, my teaching specialism will have opportunities to be put into practice beyond by graduating from the PG Dip PCET.

Reference List:

Advisory Group On Citizenship (1998) Education for Citizenship and the Teaching of Democracy in Schools.  HMSO: London.

BBC (2007) E-Voters Not Boosting Turnout [Online]. Available: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6268734.stm [11th May 2013].

Benton, T., Cleaver, E., Featherstone, G., Kerr, D., Lopes, J. and Whitby, K. (2008) Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study – Sixth Annual Report. National Foundation for Educational Research: Slough.

Brown, K. and Fairbrass, S. (2009) The Citizenship Teacher’s Handbook. Continuum: London.

Citizenship Foundation (2013) Citizenship to Stay in the National Curriculum, Michael Gove Confirms [Online]. Available: http://www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk/main/news.php?n1048 [11th May 2013].

CivilSociety.co.uk (2011) Almost Half of Sector Thinks Big Society is Just a “Rebrand”, Poll Finds [Online]. Available: http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/8005/almost_half_of_sector_thinks_big_society_is_just_a_rebrand_survey_finds [11th May 2013]

Conservative Party (2013) Big Society [Online]. Available: http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Where_we_stand/Big_Society.aspx [11th May 2013].

Eldred, J. (2002) Managing Community Projects for Change. National Institute for Adult and Community Education: Leicester.

Fleming, N. (2001) Teaching and Learning Styles: VARK Strategies. Honolulu Community College: Honolulu, HI.

Garratt, D. (2000) Citizenship and the Curriculum – Some Problems and Possibilities in Pedagogy, Culture and Society Vol 8, No 3.  Routledge: London.

Hothi, M. (2012) Local 2.0: How Digital Technology Empowers Local Communities. The Young Foundation: London.

Keltner, D. (2009) Born To Be Good – The Science Of A Meaningful Life. WWD Norton and Company: New York, NY.

Ledwith, M. (2011) Community Development – A Critical Approach. The Policy Press: Bristol.

Rallings, C. and Thrasher, R. (1997) Local Elections in Britain. Routledge: London.

Redcliffe-Maud, J. (1969) Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government in England.  HMSO: London.

Sasso, A. (2008) The Advantages of Face to Face Meetings for Virtual Teams [Online]. Available: http://www.leadingvirtually.com/the-advantages-of-face-to-face-meetings-for-virtual-teams/ [11th May 2013]

Taylor, R. (1988) Human Territorial Functioning: An Empirical, Evolutionary Perspective on Individual and Small Group Cognitions, Behaviours and Consequences. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

The Guardian (2010) Adult Learning Budgets to be Slashed, Further Education Colleges Warned [Online]. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/mar/22/further-education-colleges-adult-learning-cuts [11th May 2013].

The Guardian (2011) Applications Soar, But The Pot Is Shrinking [Online]. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/voluntary-sector-network/2011/mar/30/foundations-shrinking-pot-grants [11th May 2013]

The Publican’s Morning Advertiser (2010) £4.3m Community Pubs Fund Axed [Online]. Available: http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/General-News/4.3m-community-pubs-fund-axed [11th May 2013]

Thompson, J. (2002) Community Education and Neighbourhood Renewal. National Institute for Adult and Community Education: Leicester.

TSRC (2012) Charity Workforce Shrinks [Online]. Available: http://www.tsrc.ac.uk/NewsandEvents/Charityworkforceshrinks/tabid/872/Default.aspx [11th May 2013]

UK Government (2013) The Red Tape Challenge [Online]. Available: http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/home/index/ [11th May 2013].

YouGov.co.uk (2013) Brits Baffled by “Big Society” [Online]. Available: http://yougov.co.uk/news/2011/01/31/Brits-baffled-by-Big-Society/ [11th May 2013]

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One Response to The Future of My Teaching Specialism

  1. Richard Nelson Online says:

    An interesting post on the issues around your subject specialism. Make sure you support your discussion with references and check your spellings in the title 🙂

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