Journal article

Student teachers' perceptions of their role as civic educators: evidence from a large higher education institution in England

Teachers Learning and teaching Education research Higher education Universities United Kingdom

This paper presents the findings of a study concerned with student teachers' perceptions of their role as civic educators. Focusing on student teachers undertaking one-year, pre-service programmes within the secondary age range (11- to 18-years-old) at a large higher education institution in the south of England, the study adopted a mixed methods approach involving a cross-sectional, whole cohort questionnaire and follow-up individual interviews with a small sample of the original cohort. Here we explore the expectations and perceptions of students regarding both preparing pupils for responsible and active citizenship as a general curricular aim, and teaching pupils citizenship education as a statutory subject within the English National Curriculum for secondary schools. The research is presented in the context of a mixed picture (in terms of both policy and practice) in English secondary schools, with evidence suggesting that education for citizenship is often taught by non-specialists and that practice is inconsistent across schools. The findings of our research show that the student teachers perceived their role as civic educators to be important, believed that this was a key part of their role as teachers, and that the strength of both perceptions increased over the course of their programmes. The findings also suggest, however, that the student teachers conceptualised education for citizenship in varied and contrasting ways.

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