An award-winning political literacy platform has revealed that only 1% of teachers feel prepared to teach politics, despite 72% of parents agreeing it’s important for children to be politically literate, in the largest study of its kind since 2010. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Literacy surveyed more than 3,000 secondary school teachers and 1,500 parents of secondary school-aged children. The report discovered that 60% of teachers in England feel responsible for the development of young people’s political literacy and the majority (79%) felt as though their training did not adequately prepare them for teaching politics. Further findings revealed that independent schools are more likely to deliver political education than its maintained school counterparts.
An award-winning political literacy platform has revealed that only 1% of teachers feel prepared to teach politics, despite 72% of parents agreeing it’s important for children to be politically literate, in the largest study of its kind since 2010.
The report on the state of political literacy in secondary schools in England has been created by the political youth platform Shout Out UK (SOUK), the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Literacy and the University of Sheffield. It has been released in time for Political Literacy Day on 4th November.
The findings revealed that six in ten (60%) teachers feel responsible for the development of young people’s political literacy and the majority (79%) felt as though their teacher training did not adequately prepare them for teaching politics.
The study also revealed that independent schools were more likely to deliver political education than its maintained school counterparts. It found that independent schools offer more of an enhanced programme of political provision outside the curriculum – such as school trips to political institutions, political contact and active citizenship projects. The differences are starkest when compared to maintained schools in the most deprived communities.
The report surveyed more than 3,000 secondary school teachers from a range of ages, experience, seniority levels and subjects, from 2,000 schools, as well as parents of more than 1,500 children of secondary school age.
The full report and findings from the study can be found here, below the APPG meeting minutes: https://www.shoutoutuk.org/appg-on-political-literacy/
Of the three quarters (72%) of parents that agreed that it’s important for children to be taught about politics, further findings revealed that this figure has no correlation to whether the schools are independent or state. Though, the report did find a correlation between social class and earnings, and the confidence that parents have talking to their children about politics; it was discovered that parents earning more than £70,000 are twice as likely to speak to their children about political issues than those earning less than £10,000.
Additional findings include:
- Less than a third of secondary schools are offering weekly lessons in politics or curricular citizenship education, and a fifth of schools offer no provision at all.
- Teachers scored higher than the wider English population in a basic test of political knowledge, but less than half self-report regularly using an open classroom climate in their teaching.
- Less than a fifth of teachers feel ‘very’ confident when teaching sensitive or controversial issues.
- Although supportive of democratic education, half of parents retain concerns about ideological bias in the classroom. These concerns were noticeably stronger among right-wing parents.
- When asked whether teachers impose their own political opinions on students, a significant minority of parents (39%) agreed, with 74% of those parents also believing that too many teachers are left-wing.
- Parents are overwhelmingly supportive of democratic education as a feature of English secondary schooling. They attribute equal importance to it alongside subjects like chemistry, history and geography as preparation for adult life in modern Britain.
- 79% of teachers feel that their initial teacher training (ITT) and continuing professional development (CPD) have ‘not prepared them at all’ for teaching political literacy.
- Only 31% of parents believe that the secondary curriculum, where taught, fully develops political literacy (i.e. democratic skills, knowledge and values).
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Literacy is holding its fourth meeting of the year on 4th November, which is also National Political Literacy Day. The group aims to ensure that all young people are politically literate by the time that they finish their secondary education.* People interested in attending the APPG on Political Literacy can register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/political-literacy-a-subject-worth-teaching-tickets-190361174397
Shout Out UK (SOUK) is a multi-award-winning education platform and creative social enterprise. Fusing education and tech with film production and animation ensures they create world-class programmes on Media & Political Literacy and high impact Democratic Engagement campaigns.
Matteo Bergamini, founder of Shout Out UK, said,
“Building an engaged electorate starts with comprehensive Political Literacy education. To achieve this, we need to recognise that trained confident teachers are a key part of this process. To safeguard and amplify our democracy, we must recognize the gap in our education system now. This is not only about equipping young people with the tools to be active citizens, this is about safeguarding the very fabric of our democracy”