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24 February, 2005

Citizenship vital at 14-19, says White Paper

The government yesterday set out its response to the Tomlinson report and its vision for the future of education at 14-19, retaining a strong commitment to citizenship education.

All current Foundation Subjects of the National Curriculum, including Citizenship, will remain in place.

In her first White Paper as Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly stresses the government's continued commitment to Citizenship:

"We need to be confident that everyone leaving education is equipped to be an informed, responsible, active citizen", the Paper states.

"In an ever more complex, interdependent world, where an engaged population is crucial to the health of our society, we continue to put citizenship at its heart too."

Although developing basic skills in English and Maths is seen as the priority, Citizenship takes its place alongside ICT and the Sciences as necessary to learning at Key Stage Four: "Together", says the Paper, "these will remain compulsory for 14-16 year-olds".

Also highlighted is the importance to employers of the key citizenship skills of thinking and learning: "These skills and attitudes...are fundamental to improving young people's employability as well as their learning", the Paper says.

Presenting the White Paper to Parliament yesterday, Ruth Kelly set out her vision of an education system "focused on high standards and much more tailored to the talents and aspirations of individual young people, with greater flexibility about what and where to study and when to take qualifications".

While some have suggested that the approach advocated by Kelly will re-inforce (rather than challenge) the academic-vocational divide in the curriculum, the partial adoption of a diploma model may lead to additional citizenship education opportunities for some learners, especially in the 16-19 phase.

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