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24 January, 2012

The government should safeguard citizenship teaching, not dilute it, research indicates

The government is set to drop citizenship as a National Curriculum subject, as a result of its Curriculum Review.

However, new research from NFER seriously challenges the Review’s conclusions.

The research indicates that the Review has got one vital thing wrong: it doesn’t safeguard the knowledge that underpins civic life. Such a mistake will affect the life chances of successive generations. 

This goes to the heart of the education system itself. Schools are owned and paid for collectively. What they teach can redress the imbalances of birth, by offering each member of the next generation a fair chance to prosper. Education needs to offer our children both the knowledge to make sense of the world and the tools to transform it.

When young people recognise their rights and responsibilities they move into adulthood more readily and more capably. Keeping this route open is vital to social participation: for individuals to flourish and the country to cohere. 

But this opportunity will now be hit-and-miss, because schools will be left to decide how to deliver education for citizenship with no central guidance. History shows that many schools will let it drop and young people will miss out. 

No responsible government can fail to prescribe the central knowledge that upholds citizenship. And particularly not one that believes in localism, transparency and an engaged electorate.

The NFER research is being launched at the Houses of Parliament this afternoon. 


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