Following the success of his critically acclaimed bestseller - The Citizenship Teacher’s Handbook, which was co-authored by Kate Brown; Senior Lecturer, Stephen Fairbrass has embarked on his next project - ‘Communicating European Citizenship’, which has been backed by the European Union, in partnership with Dr. Jenny Fairbrass, an expert in EU politics.
Senior Lecturer Stephen is a Course Leader on Citizenship Education at the University Centre, Bradford College. He has conducted extensive research into Citizenship Education and is an external examiner for PGCE Citizenship at the Institute of Education in London, and the University of Exeter. Stephen has contributed to many publications, including magazine and journal articles and has worked with Channel 4 and Oxfam on the subject of Citizenship.
Stephen hopes the European project he and Jenny are spearheading, will promote the development of Citizenship Education further.
The project has seen a number of stages, beginning with a launch event held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London in November 2009, attended by the Minister for Europe, Chris Bryant, and leading academics and practitioners. This was followed by a CPD conference in January, which featured a series of workshops that were led by six of Bradford College’s former PGCE students, all of whom are now enjoying successful teaching careers.
More recently in March 2010, a hundred 13-15 year old pupils from across the region were invited to participate in a young people’s Conference on EU Citizenship. The event was planned, organised and delivered by 14 Bradford College University Centre students, who are training to become teachers on Stephens PGCE Citizenship course.
Stephen explained: “We began planning the event nearly a year ago, through an organisation called UACES (University Association for Contemporary European Studies) of which Jenny is treasurer and managed to secure the funding for the project from the European Union."
Speaking about his PGCE students’ involvement in the project, Stephen said: “Each year I wonder if my new group of PGCE students will be as good as the ones from previous years, and each year they surprise me by being better. When I suggested the idea of the Conference to them they simply said: ‘Trust us Steve, we’ll make it happen’.” In small groups of 4/5 the students designed the day and the workshops that would form the key learning activities. The day was a resounding success.”
Sarah McGinty, Head of Citizenship at St. Bede’s School Bradford, arrived at the event with a group of pupils. Reflecting on the positive impact the event had on her pupils, she said: “They loved it! They said they particularly enjoyed finding out about how the EU works, debating, working with kids from other schools and making new friends. One boy said he's now decided he wants a career in politics!”
Congratulating Stephen’s PGCE students involved in the project, Head of Citizenship, Sarah McGinty continued: “They obviously worked very hard on today. They had some brilliant sessions prepared and made quite an impression on the kids!”
Barry Bennett, one of the trainee teachers who helped to run the workshops said “I thought it was an excellent event. The workshops were lively and creative and I felt that the kids were genuinely interested. They came up with some fantastic ideas! I think events like today remind us why we chose this as a career.”
Trainee teacher, Corinne Hannah, helped to run the event and said “I had a really good day today. It was so much fun working with lots of different kids and teachers. I'm really glad everyone had a great time and I think we got as much (if not more) out of it as the pupils involved.”
Stephen Fairbrass reflecting on the success of the event said: “My trainee teachers made me really proud today. They are all highly committed individuals, with a wealth of talent who are going to progress to highly successful careers in the teaching profession”.
The ‘Communicating European Citizenship’ project concluded recently with an academic conference hosted in London. Anna Neale and Andy Thorpe, Citizenship teachers who graduated from the Bradford PGCE course, were keynote speakers at the event. The project will stimulate further research and practical outcomes, including the development of new teaching resources that Stephen and his former and current PGCE students will be involved in writing.